The biggest dilemma in running is, you try to run faster but your lungs always let you down. Running is a cardiovascular exercise, if you can improve on your breathing and how to get more oxygen into your lungs you are guaranteed to run faster.
Runners World January 2009 Issue had a great article on how you can improve on how you get more oxygen into your lungs by doing a couple of simple exercises.
To quote from the article “Just as we strength-train our hamstrings and calves to improve our ability to power over hills, we can tone the muscles used for breathing. “Exercise improves the conditioning of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, and the intercostal muscles, which lie between the ribs and enable you to inhale and exhale,” says Everett Murphy, M.D., a runner and pulmonologist at Olathe Medical Center in Olathe, Kansas. “When you take a breath, 80 percent of the work is done by the diaphragm. If you strengthen your diaphragm, you may improve your endurance and be less likely to become fatigued.”
Any exercise that works on your core area such as sit ups will improve the muscles around the diaphragm.
Best breathing method : The mouth or the nose?
The experts interviewed for the article swore by the mouth, the wider is your mouth open while running the better your breathing. I once tried running with my mouth shut and I swear it was horrible.
The chest breathing or the belly breathing.
I was a little bit surprised to learn belly breathing is the recommended method of breathing for runners. When you chest breathe, your shoulders get tense and move up and down. That’s wasted energy-energy you should conserve for running.