A blog by runners. For runners.

How to breathe properly when running

How to breathe when runningBreathing is one of those things we don’t think much about. Luckily, our bodies do it for us so we don’t have to worry about the mechanics of it.

Except when it comes to running. It’s not unusual for someone new to running to have difficulty controlling their breathing at first. You may feel like you’re gasping for air or suffocating. Or maybe you’re suffering from side stitches – that nuisance happens as the result of improper breathing.

But breathe easy. With some tips and practice, you can get your breathing under control which will make you run better.

  • Think deep breaths. Fill your diaphragm with air and slowly let it out. Be sure to breathe from your stomach, not your chest. Breathing from your diaphragm will deliver more oxygen to your lungs. From there, the oxygen will be able to move to your bloodstream. This will increase your lung capacity and endurance, which will translate to faster and more enjoyable runs. Deep breathing will also prevent those annoying side stitches. Be sure to open your mouth when you breathe in and out. Your mouth is a much bigger hole than your nostrils, so you’re able to take in more air through it. This will help fill up your lungs better.
  • Get into a rhythm. When we think of rhythm, we think of foot turnover. But your breathing should happen in a pattern, too. Everyone’s breathing rate will be different. Professional runners aim to breathe in a 2-2 or 3-3 pattern. They breathe in for 2 or 3 steps, and then out for 2 or 3 steps. Experts say this rhythm maximizes your oxygen intake. However, the specific pattern doesn’t matter as long as it’s consistent and you’re comfortable. Maybe you do a 2-3, 3-4, or 4-3. Just find the pattern that works for you.
  • Practice when you’re not running. When you’re not running, practice breathing deeply. The more you do it during the day, the more likely it will be to become a habit. And once breathing deeply becomes a habit, you’ll do it on a run without giving it much thought.
  • Regroup your breathing. When the going gets tough – maybe you just climbed a long hill or are doing speed repeats – check in with your breath. If you’re winded or feel like you’re breathing from your chest, slow down your pace and go back to taking deep breaths from your diaphragm.
  • Turn to yoga or Pilates. Yoga and Pilates enhance your strength, flexibility, and breathing. These activities help you to focus on and control your breathing rate. With enough practice, you’ll be better in tune with your breathing on – and off – the run.

Written by Jen Matz.