How to breathe while running

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Breathing while running - what are the best running breathing techniques for beginners? Pace, cadence, and form are all important factors in running, but without the right breathing strategy, your run may be much shorter than you want it to be. If you're new to endurance training, you may find that the way you breathe while running is one of the most difficult things to control. Let me give you some running breathing tips that worked for me.

Newer runners who lack cardiovascular fitness will breathe very erratically, often too shallow and ineffectively, especially when the intensity builds. As runners improve their fitness, hard breathing is easier to manage and patterns become more automatic. By the time a runner reaches elite status, they are more focused on the pace rather than their breathing. These patterns are just figured out.

Control your breath while running

You may not be at elite status, but remember that practice makes perfect. As you're running, work on controlling your breath. Try inhaling for 3-4 steps, and then exhaling for 3-4 steps. Breathing in for a longer duration may help you breathe deeper and thus take in more oxygen. It may take some time to figure out but keep at it. If you find yourself running out of breath or feeling winded all the time I recommend decreasing the duration or the intensity of the exercise. Find an appropriate starting point and progressively adjust the intensity or the volume of the runs as you adapt. This will yield cardiovascular adaptations to help build your endurance and stamina.

How to deal with side stitches

Often, side stitches are caused by undue stress to the diaphragm, which is escalated by shallow breathing. If breathing is too shallow, it doesn't provide adequate oxygen to working muscles, including the diaphragm. Inhaling and exhaling fully and deeply can help reduce the occurrence of side stitches. Especially beginners have to deal with this problem and a lot. But the more you run the more your body gets used to it and the side stitches will get less.

Breathing during intervals

If you're doing interval training, you may have to worry less about your breathing technique, because you get time to recover. Your breathing rate will just be higher during the interval. The high breathing rate should still deliver oxygen to the lungs and not be too shallow. Make sure to breathe deep into your lungs preferably through your mouth.

FAQ: Breathing while running

Why do I struggle to breathe when running?

Running is asking for high demands from your body. Especially running beginners struggle with breathing during running for a bit. The main reason this happens is due to the buildup of carbon dioxide in the body. As carbon dioxide levels accumulate in the body from exercise, it triggers us to breathe more rapidly via our respiratory system. The more you run, the easier it will feel for you to breathe during exercising. Just like everything else, your lungs need to adjust to the sports as well.

Is it better to breathe through your nose or mouth when running?

Personally, I'm convinced that breathing through your mouth is much better than breathing through your nose. It simply brings in more oxygen. But it is actually not a bad idea to practice the nose breathing as well. During your easy runs, you should be able to breathe through your nose without even thinking about mouth breathing. The harder the workout the more challenging it is to breathe through your nose. At some point, you'll need more oxygen and you will start to breathe through your mouth naturally.

Why do I breathe so heavy when I run?

Like I mentioned the harder the workout the higher is the demand for oxygen coming into your respiratory system. Once you start your run, your body increases the need for oxygen of your muscles. If you experience this feeling especially at the beginning of a run, it is due to the fact that the breathing muscles are beginning the warm-up phase which will give you the “heavy breathing” feeling.

Should runners take deep breaths?

Yes! I take deep breaths regularly while I'm running. It is actually the most efficient way to breathe while running. Fill your lungs with oxygen because you want to maximize your available oxygen supply. The best way to do so is through mouth breathing.
Why you can trust Sabrina Wieser
Runningbrina is committed to bringing you unbiased ratings and information. Her editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Sabrina uses data-driven methodologies to evaluate all products, so all brands are measured equally.
  • Most featured running blog, past 6 years
  • USATF certified running coach
  • Experienced endurance athlete
  • 7 marathons

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