I made an interesting discovery. I’m a mouth breather.
No, not in the sense you’re thinking where I’m a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, ignorant trumpanzee. No. I mean when I exercise, I breathe through my mouth instead of my nose.
I only just realized that. Generally, I don’t think about how I’m breathing when I exercise, particularly running. I’m too focused on all the other mechanics to pay much attention to breathing. After all, I’m not suffocating. I’m not passing out from lack of oxygen. So, how I breath never entered the equation.
But I did notice that after runs in cold weather (like today, it’s 19 degrees F with a wind chill of 13), my throat and chest feel a little sore, like the cold, damp weather is freezing my insides.
To solve this, I went and purchased a face mask. I bought the Fitwhiz Unisex Ski Mask. It’s made of neoprene and looked like it would work well.
Looks cool, sure. And if you’re a nose breather, it probably works great. I’m only a nose breather for about a block or two, then I become a mouth breather, because I have small nostrils, or possibly a small sinus passage, and I can’t get an adequate amount of air into my lungs when I’m doing aerobics, so I revert to breathing through my mouth.
I’m not gasping for breath, mind you, just breathing through my mouth.
The issue with this mask? It’s neoprene. Neoprene isn’t very permeable. There’s a nice big hole for your nose, but for mouth breathing? Those little holes aren’t enough and that little circle thing that looks like a vent? I think it’s just for show. It doesn’t do anything, not when you inhale nor when you exhale.
And exhaling is the other thing. Those small holes again aren’t enough during exhalation. Your breath goes up and out the top of the mask. In my case, that means fogging my glasses so I can’t see.
I’ve used it twice now. Both times after a few blocks I had to rip it off my face because I wasn’t getting enough air. Which reminds me of a funny story from my Navy days.
We were taking shipboard fire fighting classes in Norfolk, Virginia. We’d put on our fire fighting gear, which included an Oxygen Breathing Apparatus (OBA) and we’d enter this large square brick building. Inside, there were catwalks and below us was some sort of inflammable liquid. They’d set it on fire and we’d enter and have to knock down the fire using different techniques.
Well, we were inside and I started having a panic attack that I couldn’t breath. My OBA unit wasn’t working, I wasn’t getting enough air. The damned thing must have been defective. Just my luck, right? In a blind panic, I ripped the mask off and took a deep breath …
… of extremely hot, noxious gases!
Yes, the OBA was working just fine, thank you very much. I quickly replaced it and went along my merry way trying not to think about how it was much more difficult to breath life-giving good air compared to deadly, burning fumes.
Anyway, that’s how I feel when I wear this mask. Like I’m suffocating. I’ve tried it twice and both times I had to remove it.
I’m sure it’ll be wonderful when it comes time to shovel snow or just walk to work when it reaches single digits, but run in? Hell no.
So that’s my story of how I learned I’m an exercising mouth-breather.
By the by, I never did apply for the scuba team while in the Navy either because of this need to breath air thing.
Oh, and I bought a new pair of running shoes, Brooks Ghost 10. I’ve run in them about five times now. Just wonderful cushioning on the cement. I don’t know why I bothered trying other brands. I love my Brooks. Run Happy.
Keep running, peeps.