Best Way To Breathe When Running

Best Way To Breathe When Running


Running is a fantastic form of exercise that can help improve cardiovascular health, endurance, and overall fitness. However, many beginners struggle with finding the best way to breathe while running. Proper breathing technique can maximize oxygen intake and performance, prevent side stitches, and reduce fatigue. In this article, we will explore the best ways to breathe when running to ensure you get the most out of your workouts.

The Importance of Breathing

When we run, our body requires more oxygen to fuel our muscles. Oxygen is essential for the production of energy and the removal of waste products, such as carbon dioxide. Effective breathing techniques during running can improve oxygen uptake and help support optimal performance.

1. Nasal Breathing Vs. Mouth Breathing

There is often a debate about whether nasal breathing or mouth breathing is better while running. Nasal breathing involves inhaling and exhaling through the nose, while mouth breathing involves breathing through the mouth.

Nasal breathing has its benefits as it filters and warms the incoming air, which can help protect the lungs. However, during intense exercise, nasal breathing may not provide enough oxygen to meet the demand. Therefore, most runners naturally switch to mouth breathing to allow for increased airflow.

2. Breathe In Through Your Nose, Out Through Your Mouth

One effective breathing technique is to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This technique allows you to take in a fuller breath and expel more carbon dioxide, promoting better oxygen exchange in the lungs.

Start by taking a deep breath through your nose, filling your lungs to capacity. Then, exhale forcefully through your mouth, expelling all the air. Repeat this cycle of breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth to regulate your breathing and maintain a steady rhythm.

3. Control Your Breathing Rhythm

Controlling your breathing rhythm while running can help you maintain a steady pace and prevent the onset of fatigue. It’s important to find a rhythm that works for you, but a commonly recommended pattern is to use a 3:2 breathing ratio.

This means you take three steps while inhaling and two steps while exhaling. For example, inhale for three steps (left foot, right foot, left foot) and exhale for two steps (right foot, left foot). This technique helps coordinate your breathing with your running stride and can improve overall efficiency.

4. Focus on Belly Breathing

When running, it’s essential to breathe deeply into your diaphragm rather than shallowly into your chest. This is known as belly breathing and allows for maximum oxygen intake.

To practice belly breathing, place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. As you inhale, focus on expanding your belly and pushing your hand outward. This indicates that you are using your diaphragm to take in a deep breath. Exhale slowly, allowing your belly to deflate. This technique can help improve lung capacity and oxygen exchange.

5. Stay Relaxed and Avoid Tension

Tension in the body can hinder breathing efficiency. While running, it’s essential to stay relaxed and avoid unnecessary tension in your muscles, especially in the upper body.

Keep your shoulders relaxed and loose, allowing your arms to swing naturally. This will help prevent shoulder and neck tension, allowing for smoother and easier breathing. Relax your jaw and facial muscles as well.

6. Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises

In addition to belly breathing, you can also incorporate specific diaphragmatic breathing exercises into your training routine. These exercises help strengthen the diaphragm muscles and improve breathing capacity.

One exercise is to lie on your back with your knees bent. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe deeply into your belly, feeling your hand rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Focus on slow, controlled breaths and engage your diaphragm fully.

7. Utilize Breath Control Techniques

Breath control techniques can help you regulate your breathing patterns and reduce fatigue. One popular technique is the “4-7-8” method, also known as the relaxation breath.

This technique involves inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of 4, holding your breath for a count of 7, and exhaling slowly through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat this cycle several times to promote relaxation and calmness, which can aid in better breathing while running.

8. Warm-Up Properly

A proper warm-up routine can prepare your body for running and optimize your breathing. Start with a gentle aerobic warm-up to increase your heart rate gradually. This can be a brisk walk or a slow jog.

Incorporate dynamic stretches for the upper body, such as arm circles and shoulder rolls, to loosen up the chest and shoulders, promoting better breathing. Additionally, performing a few deep breathing exercises before starting your run can help oxygenate your muscles and prepare them for the upcoming activity.

9. Gradually Increase Intensity

As a beginner, it’s essential to gradually increase the intensity and duration of your runs. This allows your body to adapt and develop the necessary cardiovascular and respiratory endurance.

Starting with shorter distances at a slower pace and gradually increasing both speed and distance will help you avoid breathlessness and allow your breathing to naturally adjust to the demands of running.

10. Listen to Your Body

Everyone’s body is different, and individual breathing preferences may vary. It’s crucial to listen to your body and adjust your breathing technique accordingly. If a certain breathing pattern feels uncomfortable or leads to breathlessness, experiment with different techniques until you find the one that works best for you.


1. Should I breathe through my nose or mouth when running?

While there is a debate between nasal breathing and mouth breathing, most runners naturally switch to mouth breathing during intense exercise to allow for increased airflow. However, if nasal breathing feels more comfortable for you, it is also a viable option.

2. How can I increase my lung capacity for running?

You can increase your lung capacity for running by incorporating exercises that target your respiratory muscles, such as diaphragmatic breathing exercises and deep breathing techniques. Consistent cardiovascular exercise, such as running, will also naturally improve lung capacity over time.

3. What is the best breathing rhythm for running?

While individual preferences may vary, a commonly recommended breathing rhythm is a 3:2 pattern. Inhale for three steps and exhale for two steps. This helps coordinate your breathing with your running stride and promotes overall efficiency.

4. How can I prevent side stitches while running?

To prevent side stitches while running, it’s essential to warm up properly, avoid eating a large meal before running, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your runs. Additionally, focusing on diaphragmatic breathing and maintaining a relaxed posture can help prevent side stitches.

5. Should I breathe shallowly or deeply when running?

When running, it’s beneficial to breathe deeply into your diaphragm, also known as belly breathing. This allows for maximum oxygen intake and promotes better oxygen exchange in the lungs.

6. Can breathing exercises help improve my running performance?

Yes, breathing exercises can help improve your running performance by increasing lung capacity, promoting better oxygen exchange, and reducing fatigue. Incorporating diaphragmatic breathing exercises and breath control techniques into your training routine can support optimal breathing while running.

7. Can improper breathing technique lead to fatigue while running?

Yes, improper breathing technique can lead to fatigue while running. Shallow breathing or holding your breath can limit oxygen intake and lead to an accumulation of carbon dioxide, causing fatigue and breathlessness.

8. How should I breathe when running uphill?

When running uphill, it’s essential to adjust your breathing to accommodate the increased effort. Take shorter, quicker breaths to match the increased pace of your strides. Focus on maintaining a steady rhythm and engage in deep belly breaths to promote optimal oxygen intake.

9. Should I breathe in time with my footsteps?

Breathing in time with your footsteps can help maintain a steady rhythm and promote a sense of flow while running. Experiment with different breathing patterns to find the one that feels most natural and allows you to maintain a consistent pace.

10. Can proper breathing technique help prevent runner’s cramps?

Proper breathing technique can help prevent runner’s cramps, also known as side stitches. Focusing on diaphragmatic breathing, maintaining a relaxed posture, and warming up properly can help minimize the occurrence of cramps during running.


Proper breathing technique is crucial for maximizing your running performance and ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Experiment with different breathing patterns, such as nasal breathing and mouth breathing, and find a rhythm that works best for you. Incorporate diaphragmatic breathing exercises and breath control techniques into your training routine to improve lung capacity and reduce fatigue. Remember to listen to your body and adjust your breathing technique as needed. With the right breathing technique, you can enhance your running abilities and take your fitness to new heights.

Rate article
( No ratings yet )