How to Breathe While Running

Updated: 06/24/24

With a pair of good running shoes and sunglasses to cut the sun's glare, runners can hit the streets and rack up the miles. However, beginner runners often get out of breath quickly, even at a jogging pace. This usually indicates inefficient breathing patterns, causing the body to struggle for oxygen during exertion.

By making a few adjustments to your breathing technique, you can improve your efficiency and run at a good pace without gasping for air. Follow these tips to enhance your breathing and enjoy a more comfortable, sustained run.


Running is an excellent way to strengthen the entire body, with the arms and legs working together to propel you at a sustained pace. Successful runners generally take the time for strength training of the upper body to keep a strong core. Over time and with continued running, the body will become conditioned to be able to run farther and faster. However, training takes time and patience. Paying attention to breathing techniques can help along the way.

Deep Belly Breathing vs. Shallow Chest Breathing

Runners need to get enough oxygen, and if they don't, they will begin breathing raggedly. Cramping and fatigue usually set in as a result. To get enough oxygen, belly or diaphragmatic breathing is a common technique. This deep breathing moves oxygen in and out of the lungs effectively. Shallow chest breathing is less effective because the air stays in the lungs for a shorter period of time.

Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing

Efficient breathing is the goal while running. It's generally more effective and efficient to breathe through the mouth instead of the nose. Mouth breathing enables you to take in more air at a time. The body naturally breathes through the nose most often when at rest. As you begin exercising and your body needs more oxygen, you'll naturally switch from nose breathing to mouth breathing to get sufficient oxygen.

The Intermediate Trick: Focus and Find Rhythm

Finding a breathing rhythm while running will help you maintain a comfortable pace. While getting acclimated to running, it's helpful to try different breathing rhythms to find one that fits you and feels comfortable. Always focus on deep belly breathing while you run, which will help you increase the length of breaths in and out. A low-intensity run might involve taking three steps while breathing in and three steps while breathing out. A moderate-intensity run might increase the breathing to a breath in for every two steps and a breath out for every two steps. For your fastest sprints, try a rhythm of one breath in with a step and one breath out with the next step.

Breathing Control for High-Intensity Workouts

When exercising at high intensity, breathing control is crucial. Effective inhalation and exhalation sustains energy, boosts blood circulation, and prevents excessive stress. Some runners like to purse their lips as they exhale so the breath comes out forcefully. Even and rhythmic breathing helps you maintain pace and minimize stress.

Breathing Control for Low-Intensity Workouts

Focusing on your breath while warming up and even when doing a low-intensity workout is important, too. This practice will help reinforce proper breathing during higher-intensity runs, which should help you build endurance and efficiency. Strive to equalize your inhalations and exhalations so they are the same depth and duration. With practice, focused breathing should become a habit.

Breathing Exercises for Athletes

Try breathing exercises to strengthen the diaphragm. Stand tall with your arms together and bent at the elbows and hands tucked under your chin. Inhale slowly through the nose while counting to six while also lifting your elbows to either side of your head and keeping your hands under your chin. Bring your elbows together in front of your face and drop your head to the back while exhaling through your mouth and counting to six slowly. Start over from the beginning and repeat the movements ten times.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.