How To Control Your Breathing While Running

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Almost every new runner experienced frustration when he or she first started. Breathing problems, side-aches and side-stitches are a common complaint among many runners. So the most often asked issues are why this happens and how to prevent such problems during and after running.  

In today’s post, you’ll find useful tips and advice on:

  • how important proper breathing while running is;
  • how to avoid health problems while running using regular breathing exercises for running;
  • how to control your breathing while running;

Proper Breathing While Running Improves Your Performance

If you want to get great results from your workouts you should learn how to breathe properly while running because efficient breathing can help you run faster and longer with less effort and thus improve your athletic performance. By the way, proper breathing while running can prevent from getting painful side stitches and aches during runs.

You’re wondering how breathing affects your running performance. That can be easily explained. The researchers of the Center for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunei University (England) studied the phenomenon of right breathing and its impact on the running performance and examined the fatigue levels of both the respiratory and leg muscles of runners. Therefore, they proved that better breathing – respiratory muscles – the runner have, the better results they get as better breathing equals more oxygen for the muscles, and that, in turn, equals more stamina.  

So proper breathing is the key thing of your successful running that’s why draw attention to a right breathing strategy that helps you support your running effort effectively.

Learn to Breathe Deeply

As we all know there are two breathing styles that we can use while running. That`s why one more common question that new runners often ask is what style of breathing should they use – belly (diaphragmatic) or chest. The answer is rather simple. Of course, while running you should use belly breathing because it absorbs oxygen more effectively than chest breathing, Belly way of breathing makes it possible to use the entire capacity of the lungs. The air you breathe goes down to the lower part of the lungs and stays there longer, thus increasing the oxygen uptake. Besides, breathing this way helps you prevent dizziness and nausea.  

Remember, inhaling deeply and knowingly will automatically lead you to exhale deeply. And don’t be afraid to breathe through your mouth, as naturally, you can`t take in as much air through your nose as you can through your mouth. That`s why you can mainly breathe through your mouth when you run. Of course, except chilly weather as when it`s getting cooler, the air is getting drier and breathing through your mouth increases the dryness. But lungs don’t like dry air and you can experience some symptoms like asthma ones (wheezing, coughing etc.).

Practice Belly Breathing

Among the most popular and useful breathing exercises for running are diaphragmatic breathing ones. You can practice belly breathing in such a way:

  • lie down on the floor with your knees bent;
  • place your hands (or a light book) on your belly;
  • breathe in and out deeply and knowingly;
  • you should see your hands (or the book) rise when you inhale deeply and fall when you exhale also deeply;
  • concentrate on trying to exhale all the air out your lungs.

Do 10 breaths for a pre-run warm-up. With a little practice, soon belly breathing will become automatic.

Make Deep Belly Breathing A Part of Your Life

You usually use chest breathing in your life. But when you start running, you start practicing belly breathing and, actually, controlling the way of breathing. That`s nice! If you want to make belly breathing as natural as chest one you don’t need so much effort. Just try to practice this breathing style when you do your routine activities until it feels natural and automatic.  

Control Your Breathing While Running

You should monitor your breathing every minute during a workout if you want to become a better runner and get great results. Don’t forget that it’s really important to concentrate on deep breathing when your running workout gets tougher. Make the breathing from your diaphragm an integral part of you to improve your performance.

Follow Proper Breathing Rhythm While Running

For easy runs and new runners, such breathing rhythm as 3:3 (it means three steps while you inhale and three steps while you exhale) is recommended by trainers. For more advanced level as medium-intensity runs, a breathing rhythm of 2:2 is preferred. For maximum and high-intensity runs, a breathing rhythm of 1:1 is the best choice.

These are just recommendations and these rates may not apply to every runner. So the best way to choose your ideal breathing rhythm is to try a few different breathing rhythms and find among them the one that fits you most of all.


While running try to avoid chest breathing and concentrate on deep belly (diaphragmatic) breathing.

While running you can breathe through both your nose and mouth. But try to breathe through the mouth when it isn`t cool outside.

While running match your breathing to your steps. Try several different breathing rhythms and find the most comfortable to you.

Follow our advice and soon you`ll see that with proper breathing you can run faster and longer without feeling tired.

Written by Helen Rogers




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