1. Take long and deep breaths
As you run, there is a short supply of oxygen. This forces you to take fast and short breaths. With this you are never getting adequate oxygen in your lungs. The best practice to take long and deep breaths. This one allows your lungs to take as much oxygen as possible. You will establish a way to use all the oxygen at your disposal to breathe efficiently and for longer. It will not be easy to steady your breathing into long and deep patterns so you have to work on it with patience.
2. Establish a breathing tempo
This may sound pretty impossible when you have been running for miles. But believe it or not, you can achieve a workable breathing tempo if you want to achieve that long run. The tempo should not be too fast or too slow (it should be something that can keep your body fully supplied with the oxygen it needs). Find something that will not be straining you. As long as you will not be scrambling to catch your breath then that is the kind of tempo you can work with.
3. Breathe at the same rate as you take your steps
If you can find a rhythm between your steps and your breathing then nothing will stop you from running for a long distance. A workable formula would be inhaling after every 3 or 4 steps and then exhaling after the same steps. Keeping up with such a pattern ensures that your body is adjusted to the frequencies of oxygen getting in and out. This means you will not be fighting for air even at the highest intensity of your run.
4. Breathe from your belly
Your diaphragm has the potential to increase or decrease the amount of oxygen you are taking in with every breath. If you want to maximize on that you have to play the oldest running trick: breathing down from your diaphragm. Breathing from your belly ensures that your lungs expand to maximum volume. This means you can take more oxygen with every breathing chance. You have to practice this since achieving it is what lies between you and making it for the long run.
5. Always breathe through your nose
It is tempting to breathe with your mouth as the running gets into you. You will not only be taking impure air but you will also kill down your running speed. But believe me you have to fight against this temptation of breathing through your mouth. Breathing through your nose is the best shot you have. On top of reducing your heart rate it also brings down your brain activity. These two reduces your oxygen needs by a big margin and it means you will have less demand for oxygen. If you can master this technique then long distance runs will be yours for the taking.
6. Keeping the right posture
Your posture has a lot to do with your success with the long run and keeping your breath to the end of it. The best posture is to maintain a straight line among your feet, backbone and the head. You should look to the horizon, keep your back straight and allow your feet to be inclined to that zero gradients. Your body will be in a resting kind of posture thus requiring less oxygen. Your arms should also be in a position to allow for maximization of oxygen use. You should have them at 90 degrees from the elbow. With this posture, your lungs are in their maximum volume and your body is more relaxed hence less demand for breathing frequencies.
7. Find your own breathing pattern
Everyone is unique in their own way. There are those who will run with few breathing moments while others need more of it. You are unique in the way you breath and you need to find a balance that you can work with. If you can work with a ratio of 3:2 for inhaling versus exhaling then go for it. This is what many running professionals agree to be a working pattern but you do not have to work against yourself to achieve it. You can establish your own pattern as long as it lets you finish the run and still have your breathing in one piece. The secret to long distance running is finding your strengths and using that to bring the running beast in you.
8. Watch your foot landing
How you land your foot while running may not have much to with your breathing but overall counts to your success. The best way to do it is land on flat feet. This distributes all the body weight over your feet and minimizes chances of injuries. Without any injury, your running will be as smooth as it can get.
9. You have to practice
Nothing will be handed down to you on a silver platter. If you are out to run, and run long distances, you have to work for it. Practice, practice and practice is the triple word that can get you success.
You will not wake up today and find that you can run for miles and keep up with your breathing. It takes time to learn how to do it in order to win the big prize. As they say, practice makes perfect. You need to hit the running track more often and practice all that we have discussed here. The running greats you admire today did not get things handed down to them; they had to get up there and be the best you know of them today. Be on top of your breathing and you are assured of taking the long run by surprise.