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A Simple Breathing Trick to Run or Ruck Better

It can help anyone run better, safer, and more relaxed.

A Simple Breathing Trick to Run or Ruck Better


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We’ve been on a kick of covering athletic footwear. The kick is done—I promise no more shoe content for a while.

Injury was the thread woven throughout all those shoe pieces. We care about shoes mainly because we want to avoid injury.

But remember, only 20 percent of injuries are associated with our shoes.

Eighty percent of running injuries are due to training. It’s usually a problem of too much too soon and improper technique.

The pandemic was a great case study of what happens when people run too much too soon. The Washington Post reported that running injuries boomed in March, April, and May of 2020 as people took up daily running to get out of the house during quarantine.

Yet pandemic aside, running’s injury rate has always been rather high. One study found “27% to 70% of recreational and competitive distance runners sustain an overuse running injury during any 1-year period.”

Some people see stats like that and treat running like they might a loaded gun.

I’m not one of them. Running is a beautiful exercise, at once meditative and exhausting, making it uniquely good for our minds and bodies. You just have to take certain steps to make sure you can run safely.

An easy one I’ve found is called “rhythmic breathing.”

A bunch of years ago, I wrote a story for Women’s Health about the benefits of getting rid of tech (GPS and fitness trackers) and running by feel.

The simplest, most impactful advice I took from that story came from the running savant Alec Blenis. He told me the easiest way to pace yourself, help prevent injury, and be more aware and relaxed on your runs is to use rhythmic breathing.

He was building off the work of Budd Coates, a famed running coach who coached Olympic distance runners.

If you’re not a runner, rhythmic breathing can still help you. It can be applied to any exercise where you’re doing a repetitive motion: walking, rucking, cycling, paddling, etc.

What rhythmic breathing is and how to do it

In short

You alter how you breathe based on your strides.

The details

To understand why rhythmic breathing is useful, you have to understand how people typically breathe when they run.