Breathing Exercise Before Running

Breathing Exercise Before Running

Running is a great form of exercise that offers numerous health benefits. It helps to improve cardiovascular fitness, boost stamina, and promote overall well-being. However, before hitting the pavement or treadmill, it is important to properly prepare your body, including your breathing. By practicing specific breathing exercises before running, you can enhance your performance and reduce the risk of injury. In this article, we will explore some effective breathing exercises that you can incorporate into your pre-run routine.

The Importance of Proper Breathing

When you run, your muscles require more oxygen to function optimally. Your breathing rate increases to meet this demand, and if your breathing is not efficient, it can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and even stitches. Proper breathing techniques help to ensure that your muscles receive enough oxygen, improve your endurance, and enable you to perform at your best.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

One of the most effective breathing exercises for runners is diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing or deep breathing. This technique focuses on expanding your diaphragm to fully inflate your lungs, allowing for maximum oxygen intake.

Here’s how to practice diaphragmatic breathing:

  1. Find a comfortable sitting or lying position.
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to rise as you fill your lungs with air.
  4. Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your belly to fall as you release the air from your lungs.
  5. Repeat this cycle for a few minutes, focusing on the expansion and contraction of your belly.

By practicing diaphragmatic breathing regularly, you can increase your lung capacity, improve your breathing efficiency, and promote relaxation.

Box Breathing

Another beneficial breathing exercise for runners is box breathing, also known as four-square breathing. This technique helps to regulate your breath and maintain a steady rhythm during your run.

Here’s how to perform box breathing:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or stand.
  2. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose, counting to four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of four.
  4. Exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to four.
  5. Hold your breath for a count of four.
  6. Repeat this cycle for a few minutes, focusing on the four-count rhythm.

Box breathing helps to regulate your breathing pattern, reducing the likelihood of shallow or erratic breathing during your run. It can also enhance your mental focus and help you stay calm and composed.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is a breathing technique commonly used in yoga that can also be beneficial for runners. It helps to balance the flow of energy in your body and promote clear breathing.

Here’s how to practice alternate nostril breathing:

  1. Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit.
  2. Place your left hand on your left knee, palm facing upward.
  3. Raise your right hand to your face and use your thumb to close your right nostril.
  4. Inhale deeply through your left nostril.
  5. At the peak of your inhalation, use your ring finger to close your left nostril.
  6. Exhale slowly through your right nostril.
  7. Inhale through your right nostril.
  8. At the peak of your inhalation, close your right nostril with your thumb.
  9. Exhale through your left nostril.
  10. Continue this cycle for a few minutes, alternating nostrils with each breath.

Alternate nostril breathing can help to calm your mind, improve lung capacity, and enhance focus and concentration during your run.


1. Should I practice these breathing exercises every day?

It is beneficial to include these breathing exercises in your daily routine, even on days when you are not running. Consistent practice can help to strengthen your respiratory muscles and improve your overall breathing capacity.

2. How long should I perform the breathing exercises before running?

It is recommended to spend at least 5-10 minutes practicing breathing exercises before your run. This timeframe allows your body to relax and prepare for exercise.

3. Can these breathing exercises be done during running?

While it is best to practice these breathing exercises before running to fully focus on your breath, you can incorporate mindful breathing techniques during your run. You can experiment with shorter breath cycles or synchronize your breath with your strides to enhance your running performance.

4. Can these breathing exercises help improve my running pace?

By improving your breathing efficiency and lung capacity, these breathing exercises can indirectly contribute to improving your running pace. However, it is essential to incorporate proper training and other running techniques to specifically target pace improvements.

5. Is it normal to feel lightheaded or dizzy during the breathing exercises?

Feeling lightheaded or dizzy during the breathing exercises can sometimes occur if you are not used to deep breathing or if you are hyperventilating. If this happens, take a break, return to normal breathing, and resume the exercise when you feel ready.

6. Can these breathing exercises help with side stitches?

Breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing, can help prevent side stitches by regulating your breathing pattern and reducing the likelihood of shallow or erratic breathing. However, if you experience side stitches during your run, it is important to slow down, breathe deeply, and maintain proper posture.

7. Can these breathing exercises be beneficial for other forms of exercise?

Yes, these breathing exercises can be beneficial for various forms of exercise, such as cycling, swimming, or weightlifting. Proper breathing techniques help to optimize oxygen intake, increase endurance, and enhance overall performance.

8. Can I combine different breathing techniques during my pre-run routine?

Yes, you can combine different breathing techniques to tailor your pre-run routine to your specific needs. Experiment with different combinations and find what works best for you.

9. Can these breathing exercises help with stress or anxiety?

Yes, practicing breathing exercises regularly can help reduce stress and anxiety. Deep breathing activates the body’s relaxation response and helps to calm the mind.

10. How long does it take to see the benefits of these breathing exercises?

The benefits of breathing exercises can vary from person to person. Some individuals may start experiencing positive effects within a few weeks, while others may take longer. Consistency and regular practice are key to achieving long-term benefits.


Incorporating breathing exercises into your pre-run routine can significantly enhance your overall running experience. By practicing diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, and alternate nostril breathing, you can improve your breathing efficiency, increase lung capacity, and promote relaxation. Remember to practice these exercises regularly and listen to your body’s needs. Happy running!

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