How To Breathe While Running Long Distance

How to Breathe Properly While Running Long Distance

The Importance of Proper Breathing Technique

When it comes to running long distances, it’s not just about having the right shoes and endurance. Your breathing technique plays a crucial role in your overall performance and stamina. Proper breathing helps deliver oxygen to your muscles and helps you maintain a steady rhythm, preventing fatigue and allowing you to run longer distances more comfortably.

The Basics of Breathing While Running

Before diving into specific breathing techniques, let’s start with the basics. When running, you want to focus on deep belly breaths rather than shallow chest breaths. Breathing deeply allows you to inhale more oxygen-rich air, which is essential for optimal performance.

Here are some key points to remember:

  • Relax your shoulders and maintain good posture to allow for optimal lung expansion.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs to capacity.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your breath to fully empty your lungs.
  • Focus on exhaling fully to ensure you’re expelling all the carbon dioxide from your system.
  • Avoid shallow, rapid breathing, as this can lead to hyperventilation and muscle tension.

Breathing Techniques for Long-Distance Running

While the basic principles of deep belly breathing apply to all runners, there are a few different breathing techniques you can try to find what works best for you. Here are some popular techniques:

1. 1:2 Breathing Ratio

In the 1:2 breathing ratio technique, you inhale for a count of one and exhale for a count of two. This technique helps regulate your breathing and can improve your endurance.

2. 2:2 Breathing Ratio

The 2:2 breathing ratio technique involves inhaling for a count of two and exhaling for a count of two. This technique is simple to follow and can help you maintain a steady rhythm.

3. 3:2 Breathing Ratio

With the 3:2 breathing ratio technique, you inhale for a count of three and exhale for a count of two. This technique requires a little more coordination but can help you take in more oxygen and maintain a steady pace.

4. Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing involves inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other. This technique helps balance the flow of oxygen and can aid in relaxation and focus during your run.

5. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing involves consciously engaging your diaphragm to take deep breaths. This technique helps expand lung capacity and can be beneficial for runners looking to increase their endurance.

6. Box Breathing

Box breathing involves inhaling for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding the breath again for a count of four. This technique can help regulate your breathing and calm your mind.

Tips for Incorporating Proper Breathing into Your Runs

Now that you’re familiar with some breathing techniques, here are a few tips to help you incorporate proper breathing into your long-distance runs:

1. Practice Deep Breathing Outside of Running

It can be helpful to practice deep breathing exercises outside of your running sessions. Try doing yoga or meditation exercises that focus on deep belly breaths. This will help you become more comfortable with the technique and make it easier to incorporate into your runs.

2. Start Slow and Gradually Increase Pace

When trying a new breathing technique, start by running at a comfortable pace. As you become more familiar with the technique, gradually increase your speed. This will give you a chance to find the right rhythm without feeling overwhelmed.

3. Listen to Your Body

Everyone’s body is different, so it’s important to listen to what feels right for you. If a particular breathing technique feels uncomfortable or causes dizziness, it may not be the right fit. Experiment with different techniques until you find one that works well for you.

4. Concentrate on Your Breath

During your runs, pay attention to your breathing and make any necessary adjustments. If you find yourself breathing shallowly or inconsistently, pause for a moment and take a few deep breaths to reset your rhythm.

5. Pace Yourself

Running long distances requires stamina and endurance. By pacing yourself and maintaining a steady rhythm, you can ensure that you’re not expending all your energy in the beginning and leaving yourself breathless later on.

6. Take Breaks if Needed

If you feel your breathing becoming too labored or you’re struggling to catch your breath, it’s okay to take a short break. Allow yourself a moment to recover before continuing your run.


1. Can I breathe through my mouth while running?

Yes, breathing through your mouth is perfectly fine while running, especially when you need to take in larger amounts of oxygen quickly.

2. How often should I breathe while running?

There is no universal rule for how often you should breathe while running. It largely depends on your pace and the intensity of your run. The key is to find a rhythm that feels comfortable and allows you to maintain a continuous flow of oxygen.

3. Should I focus on inhaling or exhaling?

Both inhaling and exhaling are equally important. However, many runners find it helpful to focus on exhaling fully to ensure they’re getting rid of all the carbon dioxide in their lungs.

4. Can singing or counting help regulate my breath?

Yes, singing or counting can help regulate your breath and maintain a steady rhythm. Some runners find it helpful to match their breaths with their footfalls or to count to a certain number of strides.

5. What should I do if I get a side stitch while running?

If you experience a side stitch while running, it’s important to slow down or stop and take deep breaths. Focus on exhaling fully and consider massaging the affected area to help alleviate the pain.

6. Can breathing techniques help improve my running speed?

Breathing techniques can help improve your running speed indirectly by aiding in better oxygen intake and reducing fatigue. By optimizing your breathing, you can increase your endurance and maintain a faster pace for longer periods.

7. How long does it take to see improvements in my breathing while running?

The time it takes to see improvements in your breathing while running will vary for each individual. Consistent practice of proper breathing techniques, combined with regular running and conditioning, can lead to noticeable improvements over time.

8. Is it normal to feel out of breath when running?

Feeling out of breath while running is normal, especially during intense or strenuous workouts. However, if you consistently struggle to catch your breath or experience extreme shortness of breath, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional.

9. Can I breathe through my nose only while running?

Breathing solely through your nose while running can be more challenging, especially during higher-intensity runs. Breathing through both your nose and mouth allows for a greater flow of oxygen to meet your body’s demands.

10. Are there any breathing exercises I can do to warm up before running?

Yes, there are several breathing exercises you can incorporate into your warm-up routine. These exercises can help expand your lung capacity and prepare your body for the upcoming run. Some popular warm-up exercises include diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing.


Proper breathing technique is essential for running long distances comfortably and efficiently. By focusing on deep belly breaths, practicing different breathing techniques, and listening to your body, you can optimize your breathing and improve your overall running performance. Remember, finding the right breathing technique may take some experimentation, so don’t be afraid to try different methods until you find what works best for you. Happy running!

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