Breathing Training For Running

Breathing Training For Running

Running is a fantastic form of exercise that can help improve cardiovascular fitness, boost mood, and promote overall health and well-being. However, many runners struggle with their breathing, leading to discomfort and decreased performance. In this article, we will explore the importance of proper breathing techniques for running and provide some helpful tips and exercises to improve your breathing efficiency.

The Importance of Breathing in Running

Breathing is a fundamental aspect of running that should not be overlooked. Oxygen is essential for our muscles to function properly, especially during exercise when they require increased amounts of energy. Proper breathing techniques can help deliver oxygen-rich blood to our muscles more efficiently, improving performance and reducing fatigue.

Additionally, breathing correctly while running can help reduce the risk of side stitches, improve postural stability, and enhance overall running efficiency.

Common Breathing Mistakes

Before we delve into the correct breathing techniques, let’s take a look at some common mistakes that runners often make when it comes to breathing:

  1. Shallow Breathing: Breathing too shallowly restricts the amount of oxygen that reaches the muscles, leading to increased fatigue.
  2. Hold Your Breath: Holding your breath while running can limit airflow and decrease oxygen availability to your muscles.
  3. Rapid Breathing: Rapid, shallow breathing can lead to hyperventilation and decrease performance.
  4. Inconsistent Breathing: Inconsistent breathing patterns can disrupt your running rhythm and make it harder to maintain a steady pace.

Proper Breathing Techniques

Now that we know some of the common breathing mistakes, let’s discuss the proper techniques for breathing while running:

  1. Deep Belly Breathing: To maximize oxygen intake, practice deep belly breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing the air to fill your belly before exhaling fully through your mouth.
  2. Exhale During Exertion: Exhaling during the most challenging part of your stride, such as when your foot strikes the ground, can help release tension and improve efficiency.
  3. Establish a Breathing Rhythm: Find a breathing pattern that works for you and sync it with your stride. For example, try inhaling for three strides and exhaling for two.
  4. Focus on Relaxation: While running, pay attention to your body and consciously release tension in your shoulders, neck, and jaw. Relaxing these areas can help improve breathing.

Breathing Exercises for Runners

In addition to practicing proper breathing techniques, incorporating specific exercises into your training routine can further enhance your breathing efficiency. Here are a few exercises to try:

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

This exercise helps strengthen the diaphragm and promotes efficient breathing.

  1. Find a comfortable seated position.
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose, feeling your abdomen rise as you fill your lungs with air.
  4. Exhale through your mouth, allowing your abdomen to fall.
  5. Repeat this exercise for several minutes, focusing on deep, slow breaths.

2. Box Breathing

Box breathing is a technique used by many athletes to promote relaxation and improve focus.

  1. Find a comfortable position and close your eyes.
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of four.
  4. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four.
  5. Hold your breath for a count of four before inhaling again.
  6. Repeat this cycle for several minutes.

3. Interval Breathing

This exercise helps build endurance and improves lung capacity.

  1. Start by running at a comfortable pace.
  2. Inhale for four steps, then exhale for four steps.
  3. Continue this pattern for several minutes.
  4. As your breathing improves, increase the number of steps per inhalation and exhalation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can proper breathing improve my running performance?

Proper breathing techniques can help deliver more oxygen to your muscles, reducing fatigue and improving overall performance.

2. How often should I practice breathing exercises for running?

It’s beneficial to incorporate breathing exercises into your regular training routine. Aim for at least a few minutes of focused breathing practice each day.

3. Can I use these breathing techniques for other forms of exercise?

Absolutely! The breathing techniques discussed in this article can be helpful for any form of physical activity that requires increased oxygen intake.

4. Can I train my lungs to take in more oxygen?

While you can’t physically increase your lung capacity, you can improve your breathing efficiency by practicing the techniques mentioned in this article.

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

It is generally recommended to breathe through both your nose and mouth while running to maximize oxygen intake.

6. What should I do if I experience side stitches while running?

If you experience side stitches, try adjusting your breathing pattern or slowing down your pace. Inhaling deeply and exhaling fully may help alleviate the discomfort.

7. Are there any breathing techniques that can help with running endurance?

Interval breathing, as mentioned earlier, can help build endurance and improve lung capacity when practiced consistently.

8. Will proper breathing techniques reduce the risk of injury?

While proper breathing techniques won’t directly prevent injuries, they can help improve overall running form and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal imbalances that may lead to injuries.

9. Can breathing exercises help with relaxation and stress relief?

Yes, breathing exercises such as box breathing can promote relaxation and help reduce stress levels.

10. Can I incorporate these breathing techniques into my pre-race routine?

Absolutely! Practicing proper breathing techniques before a race can help calm your nerves, improve focus, and prepare your body for the exertion ahead.


Breathing training is an essential component of running performance. By practicing proper breathing techniques and incorporating breathing exercises into your training routine, you can optimize your oxygen intake, improve running efficiency, and enhance overall performance. Remember to focus on deep belly breathing, establish a breathing rhythm, and find relaxation in your body as you run. With consistent practice, you’ll soon notice the benefits of improved breathing in your running journey.

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