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What Is the Right Way to Breathe While Running?

author image Deborah Dunham
Deborah Dunham is a freelance writer with 10 years of experience writing for the health and fitness industry. Her expertise and writing focuses on running, marathons, training, nutrition and healthy living. She is an ACE-certified personal trainer and certified RRCA running coach.
What Is the Right Way to Breathe While Running?
Proper breathing enhances aerobic endurance. Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Many runners, especially beginners, want to know how to breathe properly while running. Breathing too fast or too shallow can be very uncomfortable, which can lead to quicker fatigue. But learning how to breathe properly is fairly simple. Once you master this technique, your running can become much easier and much more enjoyable.

Warm Up Slowly

A proper warm-up is important to get your breathing regulated. Start with a three- to five-minute walk. This will gradually increase your respiration. When you begin your run, start slowly for the first 10 minutes. You're still in a warm-up phase, so the goal is to slowly raise your heart rate and breathing. If you're gasping for air, you started too fast.

Breathe Deeply

Deep breathing is how you're able to take in a full breath of oxygen. During your run, make sure you are fully relaxed. If you're tight or anxious, your body will not be able to take in deep breaths. Practice pulling in a deep breath and feel it go all the way to your belly. Exhale slowly and maintain this comfortable, relaxed breathing for the duration of your run. You should feel your belly rise and lower, not your chest. If your chest is rising, you are shallow breathing, which is not efficient.

Breathe Through Your Nose and Mouth

This will help you get more oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. Some people have been told to breathe in through their nose and out through their mouth, but this technique can substantially limit the amount of air taken in. It's better to use your nose and mouth to breathe in and out.

Use a 3:2 Ratio

Time your breathing with your steps. Using a 3:2 inhale to exhale ratio, take full breaths in for three steps and out for two steps. This means you will inhale on the left, right, left steps and exhale on the left, right steps. This pattern helps you concentrate on your breathing so you don’t breathe too shallow or too quickly. You'll also notice a lower heart rate because you are able to get more oxygen in.

Use the Talk Test

Most of your runs should be at a pace where you can talk while running. This means you are running at an aerobic level and getting enough oxygen for your pace. If you cannot speak more than a few words at a time, you're breathing too shallow or running too fast. This can be exhausting and make runs uncomfortable.

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