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Are you a mouth breather?

Being late to the game, I’m only now reading Scott Jurek’s “Eat and Run,” which I have really enjoyed. In the book he brings up breathing through your nose while running and its benefit. I had an immediate flashback to my high school cross country coach telling me that breathing through my nose was better – but I never tried it – finding it way harder to breathe exclusively from my nose. After being reminded of it from Mr. Jurek and reading about the potential benefits, I’ve been practicing nasal breathing more when running. Here’s what they’re saying:

  • Your nose filters the air and your mouth doesn’t.
    • Yeah, those nasal hairs serve a purpose and it is to filter the air you breath in. Why not get filtered, cleaner air when you’re working hard to breathe? Not only that, your nose warms and humidifies the air before it reaches your lungs, making it more palatable for the lungs to accept the air. 
  • Breathing from your mouth brings in too much carbon dioxide.
    • Your body’s balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide will be off if you are breathing heavily through your mouth while running, which will make your body work harder than it needs to.
  • Mouth breathing elevates blood pressure and heart rate.
    • Do you really need to increase HR and BP when you’re pushing your body for long distance? Not really.
  • Eating is easier when you breathe through your nose.
    • Do you ever stop to eat during a race and find it hard because you are also trying to breathe through your mouth? I’ve found I’m able to eat faster and with more ease when I can breathe through my nose.

Granted, a few of the studies that have been done were on smaller testing groups – In the end, breathing in a way that works for you best is what matters, but I’ve found incorporating some nasal breathing into my running and racing has allowed me to race calmer, easier, and more relaxed.

Are you a mouth breather? A nasal breather? Both? What benefits do you feel?