How to Breathe While Running (By a Marathon Coach)

You might think that breathing is something we involuntary learn when we are born and that we are doing it right all the time, but the are some exceptions where you could benefit from learning more ways of breathing. One of these exceptions is breathing while running.

It is important to realize how important is breathing properly in our run because it could be the difference-maker between stopping and running a personal best.

Running is a beautiful sport due to its simplicity. Tie your laces and run. But there is so much more to it than just running. While running, you need as much oxygen as possible. The nose cannot inhale as much oxygen as it inhales in the mouth, so it is less preferred. The nose is not as effective as the mouth because it is smaller.

Breathing techniques for running
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Learn to Take a Deep Breath

Deep breathing is much more effective when running because it uses the full capacity of the lungs. Our lungs are only slightly smaller than the rib cage, but most people tend to use only a third (upper) of this organ.

When we take a deep breath, our lungs expand, pressing on the diaphragm, forcing our abdomen to expand as our lungs fill with air. Deep breathing while running eliminates dizziness and nausea. With a little training, you can learn to use your lungs to maximum capacity and increase your endurance.

Breathe in Rhythm!

For an easy run, inhale as you take 3-4 steps and exhale as you walk the same number of steps. Count the steps in your mind and it will be easier for you to adjust your breathing to the rhythm of running! If running is more intense, the breathing tempo should be increased to support energy production: inhale for 1-2 steps, exhale for 1-2 steps.

The rules above are general and don’t apply to everyone.

It is best to try more breathing techniques and rhythms and see which one you feel most comfortable with. Some studies completely reject the idea of imposing breathing rhythms. Regardless of your breathing rate and running intensity, the most important thing is to focus on deep breathing and relaxing.

Breath According to the Temperature!

During cold winters it is important to breathe through your nose. The air you breathe through your mouth is colder and drier than the air you breathe through your nostrils, not being beneficial to your lungs.

The nose works as a filter for impurities while heating the inspired air. The outcome? If you choose to breathe through your nose, the shock will be smaller for the lungs. In addition, breathing through the nose is deeper and more efficient than breathing through the mouth, and will help you have better resistance to exertion regardless of air temperature.

Do you remember one of the runs when you were breathing so fast that you couldn’t properly run? If that happens again remember to slow down, take a deep breath, and relax.

Breathe in your nose and out with your mouth, but especially in your mouth. In time, the best breathing technique will develop on its own! Our respiratory system is used to breathing a specific pattern, by voluntarily dictating what technique of breathing we’ll be using will make us more efficient and improve our running performance.

If you have a difficult time finding your rhythm or your calm breathing, start running slower and gradually increase the pace. If your mouth dries out when you breathe during the run, it might be due to dehydration. When running during hot days of summer, remember to start each run well hydrated (make sure your urine is light yellow) and drink plenty of fluids for runs longer than 75-90 minutes.

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