How to Breath While Running

Posted on 10.16.2018 | Updated on 01.24.2020 | Added in Training Tips

As a new runner, you probably haven’t given much thought to how to improve breathing while running. After all, who needs to be taught how to breathe? But soon into your journey into the world of running nearly you begin to think of concerns on improving performance and want to gain a better understanding of proper technique and start to wonder how to improve breathing while running.

In fact, most runners could benefit from learning a few breathing techniques. Understanding how to improve your breathing while running will not only boost your performance, but also reduce common injuries that often plague runners.

Here are a few tips on how to improve breathing while running so you can get your breathing under control and ensure you have a great run every time:

In fact, most runners could benefit from learning a few breathing techniques. Understanding how to breathe properly while you run will not only boosts your performance, but also reduce common injuries that often plague runners.

Become a Belly Breather

Do you tend to take shallow breaths when you’re feeling tired? Most people breathe through their chest, which isn’t the best way to maximize their oxygen intake.

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is a technique which allows you to maximize your oxygen intake while you run. It works by engaging the diaphragm to create more space in your chest cavity, allowing your lungs to expand fully to take in more oxygen.

Deep belly breathing increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your muscles and will stave off fatigue for longer. It has another benefit as well; a growing number of studies show that belly breathing has a calming effect, which can improve your focus and mental fortitude.

An easy way to practice deep belly breathing is by lying down on the floor and placing one hand on your belly and another on your chest. Take a normal breath and see which area rises first. Practice breathing deep into your belly first, then moving the breath up into your chest as you exhale.

Inhale and Exhale Through Both Your Nose and Mouth

Breathing in and out through only your mouth can have a hyperventilating effect, while breathing in and out only through only your nose won’t provide you with enough oxygen on your run. The best way to breathe while running is to inhale and exhale using both your nose and mouth combined.

Breathing through both the mouth and the nose will keep your breathing steady and engage your diaphragm for maximum oxygen intake. It also allows you to expel carbon dioxide quickly.

Practice breathing through both your nose and mouth during the day. This might be difficult because we’re hardwired to breathe in and out through just our noses. Once you’ve got this down, you can move on to our next tip: learning the best breathing patterns to run faster and prevent injury.

Related: Running With Asthma: It’s Easy, Not Wheezy

Time Your Breathing with Your Cadence

Do you always seem to get injured on one side of your body? Learning the right breathing pattern to match your cadence may help prevent those nagging injuries and boost your running performance.

Rhythmic breathing, also called cadence breathing, describes the number of steps you take on inhale and on exhale. If you’re like most runners, you have a natural tendency to have an even number of foot strikes for each inhale and exhale.

For example, if you have a 2:2 breathing pattern, you inhale every two steps and exhale every two steps. This even breathing pattern can lead to injuries because the exhale is always on the same foot.

Instead, try focusing on a breathing pattern that alternates from one side to the other. For instance, a 2:1 breathing pattern in which you inhale for two steps and exhale for one. This alternating pattern will increase your core stability and help you remain injury-free.

Warm Up Your Respiratory System

If you frequently get side stitches on your runs, you aren’t alone. According to a study, 70 percent of runners report experiencing this stabbing side pain.

Although the exact cause of side stitches is still uncertain, we do know that it happens when the diaphragm muscle starts cramping. Considering how the diaphragm muscle plays a significant role in our breathing, it stands to reason that improper breathing may a likely cause of side stitches. Side stitches seem to occur more often in new runners, further supporting this theory.

Warming up your diaphragm before taking off at your usual pace can reduce the chances of developing this annoying side stitch. First, start by practicing your deep belly breathing technique to relax your diaphragm muscle.

Next, start slowly and focus on maintain your breathing technique. Gradually increase your speed to give your diaphragm time to adjust to harder breathing. This will warm up the entire body and allow you to run stitch-free. Make sure to store your gear with a secure running belt on your next run.

Posted by FlipBelt

Distance Running Tips: Proper Breathing Techniques For Running

For most new runners, controlling your breathing will be one of the first big obstacles to tackle. In this post, Coach Nate shares his favorite tips on breathing techniques for running.

Breathing Techniques For Running: Why Is Breathing So Challenging At First?

Just out of curiosity, what sort of position is your body in right now, as you read this?

Are you seated, standing?

Slouched over, slumped back in the couch?

Well, believe it or not, the way in which you breathe (whether you’re running or not) is affected by the positions you spend most of your day in.

Slouching over can cause our breathing to get shallow.

Instead of using our diaphragm for deeper, more valuable breaths, everything stays up in our chest, creating little to no value for our overall aerobic capacity.

When it comes time to run, you’ve programmed yourself to take short shallow breaths, which often makes you feel panicky and like you can’t get enough air as you run.

Breathing for runners comes down to regularly expanding the lungs (training at mid-high heart rate zones regularly) and thus, constantly improving the body’s ability to utilize oxygen.

Let’s take a look at a few ways we can improve our breathing mechanics.

Breathing Techniques For Running: Belly Breathing Drill

This one’s simple.

1) Lie down on your back.

2) Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly.

3) Take a few breaths, noticing under which hand most of your breaths are happening.

Here’s the drill:

1) Take a big inhale through your nose.

2) Start by filling the chest, then the mid-chest, then the belly.

3) Now reverse the cycle on the exhale.

4) Exhale deep out of the belly, then the mid-chest, then the chest.

5) The exhale will be through the mouth, rather than the nose.

6) Repeat these deep long breaths (hands still on belly and chest) for 10 repetitions.

Now we’ve got that diaphragm working for us 🙂

Breathing Techniques For Running: Nose Breathing Drill

Time to put that new breathing strategy into practice.

1) Before you go out for that next run, spend a few moments practicing breathing ONLY through your nose.

2) Close your mouth and take 8-10 breaths using just your nose.

You’ll notice the belly (versus the shallow chest/shoulder) breathing kicks in right away.

Here’s the drill:

1) For the first 5 minutes of your next run, you’ll breathe ONLY through your nose.

2) After 5 minutes, return to your normal breathing.

3) For the last 5 minutes of your run, again breathe ONLY through your nose.

If you’re not used to breathing this way (especially during exercise), there’s a good chance that the nose breathing will make you feel panicky and like you can’t get enough air.

This is TOTALLY normal.

To help calm you down, adjust your pace and effort level to accommodate the nose breathing. Slow down and take control.

On the other hand, here are a few ways to make this drill more challenging:

1) As you get more comfortable, increase to 7-10 mins at the beginning and 7-10 mins at the end.

2) Once that feels doable, try running the first 30-40 mins of your run using just your nose to breathe.

3) One last challenge would be speeding up the nose breathing. Try running 1 mile at a faster pace, breathing only through your nose.

Breathing Techniques For Running: Connect Your Breathing With Your Cadence

The last piece of this puzzle is simply matching your new breathing to your running, specifically your cadence.

1) Start running in place, at a moderate pace.

2) Now start counting how many steps it takes to inhale, and how many steps it takes you to exhale.

3) There’s no right # here, just make note for yourself.

4) Now consider this your home base.

5) From here, start playing with changing these #’s on command.

6) For example: if you were inhaling for 4 steps and exhaling for 4 steps, try inhaling for 4 steps and exhaling for 6.

7) Play with this for a few minutes in place.

Consider this a new “gear shift system” for your running.

Depending on the speed and intensity of your run, race, whatever, you should be able to match your breathing to your movement.

Breathing for runners can make or break you.

You’ll notice that at a quicker pace, the # of steps per inhale/exhale may go down, where as at a slower “long run pace”, it increases.

There is no right number of steps per inhale/exhale.

This drill is for you to figure out what you need at various speeds and intensities so that come the last 5 minutes of your 5K, Marathon, or whatever it is, you’re comfortable enough to pick a “mode” to finish and beat those last few runners in!

There is ALWAYS room for improvement in breathing for runners. So whether you are preparing for a marathon, 5k or any other race, for best results, try incorporating at least one of these drills into your running training each week!

Did you know??? We already have come up with the best running, strength and mobility workouts we could think of…all covered in our super-popular series of various running training programs. Check them out & don’t miss a chance of leveraging yourself!

Breathing Tips for New Runners

Are you a new runner? Are your legs just fine, but you just can’t seem to control your breathing? Are you frustrated by more experienced runners who appear to run with little effort and with unlabored breathing that seems as normal as if they were standing still? You’re not alone. Most new runners experience the same frustration. Just know that many experienced runners also struggled with the same breathing issues when they first started.

More: How to Avoid Runner Burnout

Your body needs a good deep inhalation in order to get oxygen deep into the lungs where it can be transpired from the alveoli into the bloodstream. Better oxygenated blood means more oxygen getting to the muscle where it’s used to make energy. More energy means more endurance. Breathing rapidly doesn’t mean you’re getting in the needed oxygen, because rapid breathing often means shallow breathing.

So how do you get in control and unlock your lungs so your breathing doesn’t seem so labored? It takes practice. Breathing is such a natural thing that it feels quite unnatural to think about your breathing. But, spending a few runs focused on your breathing can ensure more enjoyable and relaxing runs.

A good breathing training technique for beginners to try starts with a walk.

More: 27 Ways to Run Better Everyday

  1. Go for a one-minute walk. During the walk, focus on slow deep breathing. Concentrate on expanding your belly as you breathe. Keep an even breathing pattern during the walk. Pay attention to your stride. More than likely you’re taking multiple strides during each inhale as well as each exhale. Remember that a good exhale will clear the lungs of CO2 making room for more oxygen. Also focus on good posture. Walk with a “tall spine.” Keep your head up, but relax your shoulders. Slumped posture can actually decrease your lung capacity.
  2. Now, pick up the pace for a one-minute brisk walk while maintaining the same deep even breathing pattern. It may take a little concentration to keep your breathing rate from increasing as you pick up the pace, but you’ll be surprised how easily you can actually control it by just paying a little attention to it.
  3. Now, pick up the pace for a one-minute slow jog. Focus on keeping the same even breathing pattern. This may be a little more challenging, but you can do it. Pay attention to the number of strides your taking with each inhale and exhale. (To count a stride, just count each time your right foot hits the ground.)
  4. Finally, pick up the pace to a one-minute run. Focus on keeping the same even breathing pattern you’ve been keeping since the walk. Take note of the number of strides your taking for each inhale and exhale. They may not be the same.

More: 3 Reasons Strength-Training Will Boost Your Running

Nose Breathing in Running: How to Breathe Properly While Running

Should I breathe through my nose or mouth?

It’s a question so basic, many runners forget to even ask.

Of all the details runners may consider when evaluating how to improve performance, how to breathe while running usually isn’t one of them. Is there even a best way to breathe while running, or is it just something our bodies will figure out naturally?

While form, pace, stride length and other variables might all be subject to adjustment in a single run, it’s common for breathing to occur naturally, and without any second thought.

Unfortunately for those runners who don’t consider how to breathe properly when running to be something they need to pay attention to, they’re overlooking a key performance factor.

Patrick McKeown claims that you can even replicate altitude training by doing some breathing exercises that take just a few minutes a day!

Believe it or not:

Breathing is the process of taking in oxygen to fuel your activity, and there are right and wrong ways to do it.

If you’re currently breathing inefficiently during your runs, you could be holding yourself back. Even if you do not feel like it is hard to breathe when running

There are several misconceptions about breathing that have long been circulated within running circles. In this article, we’ll dispel these common myths and teach how you should be breathing to run faster.

Is There a Correct Way to Breathe While Running?

Opinions on proper breathing can vary from one runner to the next.

Some say nose breathing helps regulate your breathing and warms the air before it hits your lungs.

Others insist that mouth breathing is a more natural style and increases your ability to maximize oxygen intake.

Some people may also struggle with breathing in a natural way.

If you’ve developed a sense of comfort with one way to breathe, it might be tempting to continue on in that fashion.

This is important:

When it comes to running, what’s natural isn’t always what’s most efficient.

It might be a rough transition, but if you determine that your current running habits — be them breathing or otherwise — aren’t in the best efforts of your performance, you should always try to change them.

Of course, sometimes it’s knowing what’s best that is the greatest challenge of all.

What’s the bottom line?

Whether you feel like you can’t breathe when running or you feel fine, but know that there is a better way to breathe when you run, it is definitely time to make this change.

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Nose vs. Mouth Breathing: Which is Better?

Fortunately for runners, there is a general consensus among running experts regarding how you should breath while exercising.

Mouth breathing is by far the best way to breath while running, largely because it brings in more oxygen than breathing through the nose.

It get’s better:

Forcing air through the nostrils can tighten your jaw and other facial muscles, and tension is never good for running.

Mouth breathing, meanwhile, relaxes the jaw and can have a similar effect on the rest of the body.

That being said, breathing expert Patrick McKeown believes all runners should do some breathing exercises with your mouth completely closed to be able to breathe better when running.

Some runners do prefer to breathe through both the mouth and nose, maximizing air intake.

But whatever you do, don’t be afraid to let your mouth hang open: You’ll be a better runner for it.

If There is a Best Way to Breathe While Running, This is it

Proper breathing isn’t entirely determined to the face.

How you force air in and out of your lungs can affect how well you take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.

Whether you breathe through your nose or mouth does not make too much of a difference, but something that does affect your running more than you realize is the way you breathe once the oxygen goes into your body.

There is a best way to breathe while running, and if you feel like you can’t breathe while running, this is something you need to pay attention to and change as soon as you can.

What is the correct way to breathe?

Stomach breathing.

To make the most of your breathing, make sure you avoid the nasty habit of chest breathing in favor of what’s called diaphragmatic breathing.

Here’s the deal:

Chest breathing is a weak form of breathing.

It’s too shallow to bring in maximal oxygen and doesn’t fully expel your lungs when you exhale.

Instead, your breathing should be diaphragmatic, meaning the action of inhaling and exhaling extends down into your stomach.

As you breathe, your stomach should expand and contract as your diaphragm forces air into and out of your lungs.

Your chest, meanwhile, should remain mostly still, but you’ll take in more oxygen with every breath.


Don’t worry, we explained this in further detail in our article on the best breathing rhythm to run to and we also show you how to train your lungs to become stronger, which will also help your running.

The next time you go running, be aware of your breathing and your natural inclination to breathe through your nose or mouth.

If necessary, focus on making the necessary corrections and taking in breath through your mouth.

It may be a struggle at first, but you should eventually be able to transition to a better breathing technique, and do so without thinking.

With any luck, you’ll notice an improvement in your running efficiency and performance.

Learn how to breathe while running to reduce shortness of breath and pain

Spoiler alert. I don’t actually run every day. Sometimes travel, illness, kids, or everyday life gets in the way. But I know how good running is for health, so even on the most hectic of days, I will try my hardest to squeeze a run in.

Even if it’s only 10 minutes or a quick sprint across the supermarket car park! Let me share with you how this non-runner fell in love with pounding the pavement and discovered along the way that running really can change your life.

Why I love to run

It all started when my little boy Baxter was 9 months old. The whole motherhood thing had me feeling tired, fatigued and pretty yuck most days. My body didn’t feel like my own and I was struggling to carve out time for me. Life was full at the time. I was a first-time mum, I was running my own business and had a husband who was struggling with depression.

I knew that if I didn’t somehow find time to do something good for myself, things were going to get worse, not better. So I took up running. And it soon became my sanctuary, something that gave me back my mind and my body. I had discovered the incredible health benefits of running.

While we are not all designed to run we are all designed to move. Find the activity that brings you joy and do it every day.
#move #exercisejoy

How to learn to run every day

I know not everybody gets excited about running, let alone the prospect of starting a daily running habit. But like anything in life, little habits add up and soon create a practice or routine. If you have never been a runner, it’s best to work your way into it slowly, don’t expect to be running marathons in a few weeks.

My approach was to set myself a goal. For some reason, I thought that running a mountain marathon seemed like a good idea. (I now look back and question my sanity). I knew I had to put my goal out there if I wanted it to happen, so I put the feelers out to see if anyone would join me. I knew that if I wanted to achieve my big hairy, scary goal, I would need a team around me.

Everything soon began to fall in to place. My business at the time supported women going through cancer treatment with an amazing program called, Pinc Pilates. I decided to set up a Pinc Pilates team so that we could fundraise for a special cause and have something to be accountable to.

Find a coach and a make a plan

Our running coach, John Gordon (the dashing man above lying across his CanRun team), was soon whipping our group of beginner runners into shape. Our muscles, respiratory system (more about that later) and brain all needed time to recover and respond to the new load that our body was placed under. When working towards running goals, it is crucial to build up slowly and create a varied running schedule each week.

The schedule should include a technique/strength session, longer endurance sessions, and short sprints. This will help you feel good when you run and avoid injury. Over a 9-month period of hard slog, our team did it. And I had just completed my first mountain marathon, New Zealand’s Motatapu, in a time of 5 hours and 20minutes. Stoked.

The Benefits of Running

Sometimes the thought of lacing up the shoes, getting out of bed early, or braving the cold sounds about as appealing as a root canal. But I am here to tell you that the benefits of running (even just a little bit) are epic and well worth the effort. When I was part of the Pinc Pilates team, I saw that everyone in the group experienced improvements in their wellbeing in different ways.

Let’s take a look at the muscles to start with. For muscles to develop or grow or even to maintain muscle mass, we need to load and stimulate them. Running causes micro-tears in the muscle fibres (which is why you can feel sore when you first start running). The body then repairs the muscle fibres and at the same time adds more muscle fibre in preparation for the next time it is loaded. As we age, we lose muscle fibres (called sarcopenia), so if you don’t keep loading your muscles you can lose 3-5% of muscle mass every decade from the age of 30!

Even more benefits of running

Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise for those who are looking to lose weight or keep weight off. We love running because it burns calories! But make sure you keep your runs short and don’t plod along if you are looking to lose weight through running.

Then there’s my favourite reason for running – stress relief. One of our main stress hormones, cortisol, is released when we run. But this isn’t a bad thing if you’re running the right way. The release of cortisol is okay for short periods of time as it stimulates the body to grow and develop. Research has shown that endurance running can increase the amount of cortisol produced.

So if you already have high levels of stress in other parts of your life or are trying to lose weight I recommend you keep your running times short, below 45 minutes. It won’t be long before you start to see how running can help with stress relief.

Can you run every day?

Our body loves movement but it doesn’t like to be overworked. I try to ensure that my running practice is regular, even if my daily run is a short sprint to the car. It is when you sit on either end of the extremes that you can have a negative impact on your body. In other words, you need to find a happy medium between being a sloth or being a coyote.

When you run beyond your capacity, you run the risk of lowering your body’s ability to repair, immune function and decreasing bone density. When the body’s repair system for muscles and tendons is not able to keep up with the demand fatigue, pain, injury and exhaustion can set in. Learning to detrain and build a periodization stage into your training can help reduce the impact of over-training. Females particularly need to be aware of this because of hormones fluctuations throughout the month.

The reality is there is no magic distance or duration for running. Moving the body in a way that feels right for you is what counts. #move #running

The Benefits of Long Distance Running

Long distance running is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. As long as you build up slowly!There are loads of benefits of long distance running, including:

  • The ability to increase diaphragm strength (your main breathing muscle)
  • The ability to strengthen the heart
  • Increasing bone density, especially important for women
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing stress
  • Increases mental resilience.

These are just some of the ways that running can change your body – for the better. It’s great to set goals when it comes to building up a long distance running practice, but it’s hugely important that you have the right support team around you, as well as an experienced coach.

Top endurance coach, Merryn Johnson says you should tackle any long-distance event in the same way you would tackle eating an elephant, “One bite at a time”.

What muscles does running work?

Not all running techniques are equal and because of that your body can cheat and take the path of least resistance when you first start running. The main muscles that are activated when running are the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings and gluteal muscles.

However, if you are new to running or your technique is poor then your body may cheat and try to use weaker muscles. Instead of using the main hip flexor muscle, iliacus, you may end up working the tensor fascia lata or pectineus instead, which can cause a change in the biomechanics of the hip, knee and ankle.

Faulty movement patterns due to weak or short muscles can contribute to injury and pain. Improving your running technique, your breathing technique and strengthening major breathing muscles is crucial to preventing injury.

Running Breathing Techniques

My personal favourite running style and one that I often recommend to patients is called Chi Running. It takes time to build up a Chi Running practice so it is preferable to work with a trainer or coach. It’s important that you work with someone who will make sure you have the flexibility, strength and coordination to take it on.

Chi Running uses your natural spring action in your leg and the force of gravity to maximise energy used during running. Chi Running focuses on forefoot running, but this is only part of the running puzzle. Good form and efficient technique only come when you have also mastered the right breathing technique.

As legendary Physiotherapist, Gray Cook says, “You can’t own a position unless you can breathe in it.” When it comes to running, the same applies. Good breathing pattern and diaphragm strength allow for stable and efficient running technique. Chi running allows for good form through the upper body and pelvis allowing the diaphragm to work in a stability function.

Is your body designed for running?

Our body is designed for movement. It craves it. As a physiotherapist, I have treated and helped many runners to reach their personal bests and goals. Not every runner I see has found the right level of training for his or her body type and fitness level.

There are several biomechanical issues that can affect how much you should run including retroverted hips, weak and tight gluteal and calf muscles and tight and weak hip flexors.

This is why it’s always better to work with a therapist and coach to develop a strengthening and stretching program that addresses your own individual body biomechanics. Getting it right from the start will prevent a lot of pain down the track.

How To Breathe When Running

The ideal way to breathe is in and out through the nose (check out day 7 of The Big Exhale online breathing coursefor more info on nasal breathing). But when you start running your body needs more oxygen to fuel muscles and expel carbon dioxide generated during exercise.

This often causes us to switch to mouth breathing. As your fitness increases, you will be able to stay breathing through the nose before feeling the need to switch to mouth.

My top tip for runners is to deflate and exhale. When we start to run we can expand our chest using our accessory breathing muscles to get more air in.

While this is okay for short periods of time, overuse can cause muscle fatigue. When your breathing muscles fatigue you lose form and technique, which flows on to strain and injuries in the lower extremities.

It might seem far-fetched that your breathing can affect your running biomechanics, but it does happen. The diaphragm is a stability muscle for the core, so if it fatigues then the body will beg, borrow and steal from other muscles for respiration which ends up changing your biomechanics.

Form needs to win over length of training. So, if you feel you have reached your breathing limit then stop and recover with long exhales before returning to training.

How to control your breathing while running

It takes time to build up running fitness and breathing endurance. But it is a lot easier if you know how to breathe right when running. Breathing control in sport is important. When I trained for my first mountain marathon in 2012, it took me 9 months to go from a non-runner to someone who could complete a 42km run through stunning mountains in New Zealand.

When I first started running, my biggest challenge was shortness of breath. As I analysed my running technique, I found that I was breathing as if I was sprinting instead of beautiful belly breathing. Belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing takes time to master and is the ultimate breathing goal for any runner.

To really master the best breathing techniques for running, you need to master breathing in your day to day life.It’s only once you can breathe properly when lying down, sitting at your desk or standing that you will be able to master breathing well when running. And it’s all about retraining your breathing pattern.

The Benefits of Belly Breathing for Runners

Your big breathing muscle, the diaphragm, has three roles.

  • The first is respiration where we exchange gas in our body (oxygen in and carbon dioxide out),
  • The second is speech, which you will notice becomes more difficult the harder you exercise,
  • The third role of the diaphragm is stability through your abdomen and torso, helping your body transfer load through your limbs.

What I realised from my own journey and many of my patients’ journeys was that breathing right while running has resulted in less injury, increased performance and a more enjoyable experience.

And as an extra bonus, running helps reduce stress levels. Changing those small daily breathing habits can add up to enhance or hinder your running.

You can learn more about how changes to your daily breathing habits cannot only dramatically change your running but also your life in my 30-day online breathing course. On Day 21 of the course, I take a detailed look at breathing exercises for runners.

How to strengthen breathing muscles for running.

Once you have your base breathing pattern retrained, then you can start strengthening your diaphragm. Like any muscle it needs load. One of the best ways to do this is to use an Inspiratory Muscle Trainer (think of it as dumbbells for your diaphragm).

My preferred product on the market is called Power Breathe. This product was developed by physiologist Alison McConnell and n a period of just 4 – 8 weeks, the Power Breathe has been shown to:

  • Decrease the stress reaction in the body
  • Increase diaphragm thickness by 8-12%
  • Increase aerobic endurance
  • And most importantly help increase distance in less time for runners.

For more information on how to improve your running training with a Power Breathe I recommend completing the 30-day online breathing course The Big Exhale and then progressing to the recommended 30 breaths 2x a day over an 8-12 week training period.
For more information about using the Power Breathe or a one-on-one skype training call contact me at [email protected]

Proper breathing for jogging

I wish there was a formula that told us how much we would need to run to live longer, stop disease or avoid injury. The reality is there is no magic distance or magic duration for running. Moving the body in a way that feels right for you is what counts. To be honest running may not work for everyone as the most beneficial form of exercise.

It’s all about finding a movement practice that works for you and that you will want to jump out of bed to do. Whatever type of exercise works for you it’s important that you learn how to maximise your breathing, decrease stress and maximise function as you do it. My go-to way of moving happens to be running but yours may be dancing, swimming, walking, biking or yoga. Whatever it is you need to love it to get the body and brain benefit. Just get out and move.

Over to you

What exercise do you love and why? We would love to hear from you. Jump over to our Facebook page and tell us why you run, walk, dance or whatever brings you joy and inspire others to get moving.

Don’t forget if you want to try the 30-day Big Exhale program to help retrain your breathing for running use the coupon code RUN at check-out to get $30 off the full price.
Emma Ferris

Emma Ferris is known as a breathing guru and is the creator of The Big Exhale 30 day breathing course. She’s also called wellness nut, entrepreneur and a woman on a mission. Drawing on a 12-year career in physiotherapy, as well as expertise in pilates, acupuncture and stress management, Emma Ferris is teaching the world to find their calm and stress less at The Breath Effect.

More About Emma Ferris, Breathing Coach

In my early days as a runner, I, like most, didn’t give any thought to my breathing. But after dealing with several injuries, I went digging into physiology research to find a solution to my predicament.

Eventually I came across an article called “Breath Play,” by Ian Jackson, a coach and distance runner, which related breathing cycles with running cadence. Later I found a study by Dennis Bramble, Ph.D., and David Carrier, Ph.D., of the University of Utah, explaining that the greatest impact stress of running occurs when one’s footstrike coincides with the beginning of an exhalation. This means that if you begin to exhale every time your left foot hits the ground, the left side of your body will continually suffer the greatest running stress.

Hmm. My most frequent injury was to my left hip flexor. So I began to think: What if I could create a pattern that coordinated footstrike and breathing such that I would land alternately on my left foot and then right foot at the beginning of every exhale? Perhaps I could finally get healthy. It was worth a try.

I developed a pattern of rhythmic breathing and began using it between my junior and senior years of college. I also trained for and ran my first marathon the winter before graduating and finished in a respectable 2:52:45.

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I continued to work on a rhythmic breathing method of running while pursuing my master’s degree in physical education and exercise physiology, during which time I trained for my second marathon. I honed in on a the three-step method for faster running during that second marathon and ran an incredibly even 2:33:29. Now I knew I could manage my effort through rhythmic breathing with a great deal of success. Since then, I’ve taught this method to the many runners I’ve coached over the years. It can work for you, too.

What Is Rhythmic Breathing?

Rhythmic breathing can play a key role in keeping you injury-free, as it has for me. But to understand how that can happen, first consider some of the stresses of running. When your foot hits the ground, the force of impact equals two to three times your body weight, and as research by Utah’s Bramble and Carrier showed, the impact stress is greatest when your foot strikes the ground at the beginning of an exhalation.

This is because when you exhale, your diaphragm and the muscles associated with the diaphragm relax, creating less stability in your core. Less stability at the time of greatest impact makes a perfect storm for injury.

So always landing on the same foot at the beginning of exhalation compounds the problem: It causes one side of your body to continuously absorb the greatest impact force of running, which causes it to become increasingly worn down and vulnerable to injury. Rhythmic breathing, on the other hand, coordinates footstrike with inhalation and exhalation in an odd/even pattern so that you will land alternately on your right and left foot at the beginning of every exhalation. This way, the impact stress of running will be shared equally across both sides of your body.

Running on Air: The Revolutionary Way to Run Better by Breathing Smarter Rodale Press $16.33

An analogy would be if you loaded a backpack down with books and then slung it over your right shoulder. With all this weight on one side of your body, you’d be forced to compensate physically, placing more stress on one side. But if you were to slip that same heavy backpack over both shoulders, the load would be distributed evenly. You’d put your body in a position to better manage that stress, and your back would stay healthy.

It stands to reason that if one side of the body relentlessly endures the greater impact stress, that side will become worn down and vulnerable to injury. Rhythmic breathing allows a slight rest to both sides of the body from the greatest immediate impact stress of running. But there’s more to it than a pattern of footstrikes, exhales, and inhales that keeps you injury-free. Rhythmic breathing also focuses your attention on your breath patterns and opens the way for it to become the source of how you train and race.

The Benefits of Rhythmic Breathing

Attention to breathing has a long history in Eastern philosophy. Dennis Lewis, a longtime student of Taoism and other Eastern philosophies, teaches breathing and leads workshops at venues including the Esalen Institute and The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. In his book, The Tao of Natural Breathing, Lewis shares the following Taoist belief: “To breathe fully is to live fully, to manifest the full range of power of our inborn potential for vitality in everything that we sense, feel, think, and do.”

In Hinduism, yoga teaches pranayama—breath work. Prana means breath as a life-giving force: The work of breathing draws life-giving force into the body. And that work is accomplished through diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, which means that as you inhale, you contract the diaphragm fully to allow maximum volume in the thoracic (chest) cavity for maximum expansion of the lungs and maximum intake of air. Rhythmic breathing does the same thing, drawing the breath—the life force—into the body through controlled, focused diaphragmatic breathing. Through rhythmic running we breathe fully and, as the Taoist would say, realize our vitality.

Rhythmic breathing also creates a pathway to a deep centeredness. Practitioners of every style of yoga, martial arts, relaxation, and meditation use breath work to connect mind, body, and spirit. In the martial arts, this inner connection and centeredness allows more immediate and precise control of the physical body.

The same can be accomplished in running through rhythmic breathing. You achieve centeredness first by focusing your mind on fitting your breathing to an optimal footstrike pattern. Then your awareness of breathing links mind and body and creates a smooth pathway to gauging the effort of running. Rhythmic breathing helps you feel your running, and that ability to feel your running allows you immediate and precise control.

Yoga teaches that controlling your breathing can help you control your body and quiet your mind. When we allow ourselves to become distracted by trying to match our running effort to a pace we’ve defined with numbers on a watch, we break that mind/body connection. We open up a gap where stress and tension can enter. And we create a disturbance in the flow of running that hinders our success and enjoyment.

Rhythmic breathing is calming, and awareness of breathing draws your focus toward calm. It allows you to remain as relaxed as possible, quieting any stress in the body that could inhibit performance. And if you should feel a twinge of tension or discomfort, you can mentally “push” it out of the body as you exhale.

During moderate or long runs, rhythmic breathing allows you to slide easily into an effort and pace at which everything glides on autopilot. Your breathing is comfortable, your cadence is smooth and even, and the rhythm of both combines for that “harmonious vibration with nature.”

How to Breathe While Running

Before learning the rhythmic patterns that will take your running to a new level, you must first become a belly breather, that is, learn to breathe from your diaphragm. When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts and moves downward, while muscles in your chest contract to expand your rib cage, which increases the volume in your chest cavity and draws air into your lungs.

Working your diaphragm to its fullest potential allows your lungs to expand to their greatest volume and fill with the largest amount of air, which of course you need for your running. The more air you inhale, the more oxygen is available to be transferred through your circulatory system to your working muscles.

Many people underuse their diaphragm, relying too much on their chest muscles and therefore taking in less oxygen, which is so important to energy production. The other downside of breathing from your chest is that these muscles (the intercostals) are smaller and will fatigue more quickly than your diaphragm will.

To rely less on your chest muscles to breathe, you’ll want to train yourself to breathe from your belly, that is, with your diaphragm. Practice belly breathing both lying down and sitting or standing, since you should be breathing diaphragmatically at all times—whether you’re running, sleeping, eating, or reading a book. Here’s how to learn the technique:

  • Lie down on your back.
  • Keep your upper chest and shoulders still.
  • Focus on raising your belly as you inhale.
  • Lower your belly as you exhale.
  • Inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth.

Establish a Pattern

Many runners develop a 2:2 pattern of breathing, meaning they inhale for two footstrikes and exhale for two footstrikes. Some breathe in for three steps and exhale for three steps. Both have the same result—your exhale is always on the same side. Breathing patterns that extend the inhale will shift the point of exhalation alternately from left to right or from right to left, from one side of the body to the other. The singular point of all rhythmic breathing patterns is this: Exhale on alternate footstrikes as you run. You never want to continually exhale on the same foot.

The rhythmic breathing patterns I recommend call for a longer inhale than exhale. Why the longer inhale? Your diaphragm and other breathing muscles contract during inhalation, which brings stability to your core. These same muscles relax during exhalation, decreasing stability. With the goal of injury prevention in mind, it’s best to hit the ground more often when your body is at its most stable—during inhalation.

Let’s start with a 5-count or 3:2 pattern of rhythmic breathing, which will apply to most of your running. Inhale for three steps and exhale for two. Practice first on the floor:

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2. Place a hand on your belly and make sure that you are belly breathing.
3. Breathe through your nose and your mouth.
4. Inhale to the count of 3 and exhale to the count of 2. You might count it this way: “in-2-3,” “out-2,” “in-2-3,” “out-2,” and so forth.
5. Concentrate on a continuous breath as you inhale over the 3 counts and a continuous breath as you exhale.
6. Once you become comfortable with the inhale/exhale pattern, add foot taps to mimic walking steps.

Exhale on alternate footstrikes as you run. You never want to continually exhale on the same foot.

When you feel confident that you have the 3:2 pattern down, take it for a walk. Inhale for three steps, exhale for two, inhale for three steps, exhale for two. Finally, of course, try out your rhythmic breathing on a run—inhaling for three footstrikes and exhaling for two.

A few key points: Inhale and exhale smoothly and continuously through both your nose and mouth at the same time. If it seems difficult to inhale over the full three strides, either inhale more gradually or pick up your pace. And lastly, do not listen to music while learning to breathe rhythmically. The beats of the music will confuse the heck out of you.

Now Go Faster

You will find that the 3:2 breathing pattern works well when you are running at an easy to moderate effort, which should make up the majority of your running.

Let’s say, however, you are out for a comfortable five-miler and about midway, you come upon a hill. Because your muscles are working harder, they need more oxygen. Your brain also signals to your respiratory system that you need to breathe faster and deeper. You reach a point running up the hill when you can no longer comfortably inhale for three steps and exhale for two.

It’s time to then switch to a 3-count, or 2:1, rhythmic breathing pattern: Inhale for two steps, exhale one, inhale two steps, exhale one. You’re breathing faster, taking more breaths per minute, and this odd-numbered breathing pattern will continue to alternate the exhale from left foot to right, dispersing the impact stress of running equally across both sides of your body. Once you’ve crested the hill and are running down the other side, you might continue in this 2:1 pattern until your effort and breathing have recovered and you slip back into your 3:2 cadence.

When you begin breathing rhythmically, it’s a good idea to consciously monitor your breathing patterns, although it’s not necessary to do so throughout your entire run. Focus on your breathing when you start out, evaluate your breathing as your effort changes—such as when you climb a hill—and then simply check in at random intervals to make sure that you haven’t fallen into a 2:2 pattern. Over time, the 3:2 and 2:1 rhythmic patterns will become automatic.

Not surprisingly, the 2:1 breathing pattern also comes into play during speed training and racing. I originally began to use rhythmic breathing as a way to run injury-free. When I realized it was working with easy and moderate runs, I was afraid to break away from it during hard training workouts, and through trial and error learned to follow a 5-count rhythmic breathing pattern during an easy run or a long run and a 3-count rhythm for interval training and racing.

Rhythmic breathing allowed me to complete my last year of competitive college running with moderate success. It would allow me to go on to qualify for four Olympic Marathon Trials and to set a PR of 2:13:02 in the marathon.

Finish Strong

On your next run, do some “breath play.” Start out in a 3:2 breathing pattern at a very easy effort—your warmup. This is a comfortable pace at which you could converse easily with a running partner.

How does it feel? Notice the depth and rate of your breathing. After 10 minutes, pick up your pace just a bit to an effort that requires you to breathe noticeably deeper while you continue to run within the 3:2 breathing pattern. You should still be able to talk with your running buddy, but you’ll be glad for those periods in the conversation when you get to just listen. Run at this pace for a few minutes and tune into your body, feel your breathing—your lungs expanding, your belly rising.

Now pick up your pace even further while holding the 3:2 breathing pattern. At this point, you’ll be breathing about as deeply as you can, which makes the effort uncomfortable. You are now experiencing a difficult rhythmic breathing effort. And you’d rather not. So you convert to a 3-count, or 2:1, breathing pattern—inhaling for two steps and exhaling for one.

You’re taking more breaths per minute, in a pattern that still distributes the impact stress equally across both sides of your body. Notice that the effort of breathing becomes comfortable again. You will be able to talk some. Running will feel comfortably fast again. Spend a few minutes at this pace and effort, focusing on your breathing and on your body.

Now increase your pace, forcing deeper breathing. You are running at a serious level that does not allow you to talk. Up the pace again. You are breathing about as deeply as you can, but the difference is that you are also breathing about as fast as you can. And, of course, your pace is much quicker.

You can’t hold this effort for very long. It might feel like you have no place else to go, but you do—to a pattern of 2-1-1-1, which allows you to breathe faster. You switch to the following: Inhale for two steps, exhale for one, inhale for one, exhale for one; inhale for two steps, exhale for one, inhale for one, exhale for one; and so forth. This is the effort you will put forth for your kick at the end of a race. Or you can use this to help you crest a steep hill during a race.

Once you’ve tested the 2-1-1-1 pattern, slow down, ease up, and allow your breathing to return gradually to a comfortable 3:2. The more you use rhythmic breathing in training and racing, the easier and more automatic it becomes.

As you use rhythmic breathing in your training and racing and tune in to your breathing efforts and paces, you will learn to run from within, in complete harmony with your body. You will discover the natural rhythms of your running, which will lead you to improved performances but also to experience the pure joy of running.

This article was adapted from Running on Air: The Revolutionary Way to Run Better by Breathing Smarter, by Budd Coates, M.S., and Claire Kowalchik (Rodale, 2013). The book teaches how to use the principles and methods of rhythmic breathing across all levels of effort and includes training plans for distances from 5K to the marathon, as well as strength-training programs and stretching workouts.

Budd Coates Budd Coates has been running for 40 years and coaching for 30.

How to Breathe When Running

Have you ever wondered this?

“what is the right way to breathe when running?”

Thought so.

Is there a best way to breathe while running? Or is it just a case of what comes naturally to you?

Surprisingly, you’re not alone for wondering about this, and at some point or another, we have all asked our running friends for help.

As a running coach, I’ve encountered this how to breathe running question on more than few occasions and I think it’s important for beginners to understand how they should approach the sport from the very basics.

I’ve heard people advocate breathing in through the mouth and out through the mouth, using slow breathing rhythms, and all sorts of nonsense.

Nothing irks me quite like the spread of misinformation, especially when it pertains to training topics. Therefore, I am happy to help set the record straight today, by showing you how to breathe easier while running, so you can get back to enjoying your training without feeling like your lungs are going to explode…yes, even if you have asthma!

Should I Breathe Through My Nose or Mouth While Running?

Here’s the deal:

You should always breathe in and out primarily through your mouth when running.

If your nose wants to join the party and help get air in and out, that’s great.

However, when you’re running, feeding your muscles the oxygen they need is of paramount importance, and breathing through the mouth is the most effective way to inhale and exhale oxygen.

To make the most of your breathing, make sure you avoid “chest breathing” in favor of what’s called diaphragmatic breathing or “belly breathing”.

Why is chest breathing bad?

Chest breathing is a weak form of breathing. It’s too shallow to bring in maximal oxygen and doesn’t fully expel your lungs when you exhale. This may be why you keep getting a side stitch when you run.

Instead, your breathing should be diaphragmatic, meaning the action of inhaling and exhaling extends down into your stomach.

As you breathe, your stomach should expand and contract as your diaphragm forces air into and out of your lungs.

Your chest, meanwhile, should remain mostly still, but you’ll take in more oxygen with every breath.

The next time you go running, be aware of your breathing and your natural inclination to breathe through your nose or mouth.

If necessary, focus on making the necessary corrections and taking in breath through your mouth. It may be a struggle at first, but you should eventually be able to transition to a better breathing technique, and do so without thinking.

With any luck, you’ll notice an improvement in your running efficiency and performance.

How Can I Train My Breathing Muscles To Run Better?

Just as we strength train our hips or hamstrings to improve our leg strength, we can strengthen the muscles used for breathing.

In fact, researchers at the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University in England demonstrated a direct link between the strength of your diaphragm and fatigue during the marathon. We also interviewed world expert, Patrick McKeown on our podcast in an episode dedicated to how to breathe while running and he recommended exercises to help.

The easiest way to start is by lying on the ground.

While lying on your back, breathe deeply so your belly rises with your chest as you inhale, and lowers while you exhale. Feel your abdominal muscles contract, and try to hold the tension as you breathe out as well as in.

Watch your chest, does it rise and fall also?

You want to get to the point where you do not see your chest moving, but your belly is expanding (think making yourself get fat).

Continue to practice this while lying down until you feel confident to move upright.

Once you have this trick down, you can move on to pilates exercises. Pilates help stretch your intercostal muscles and lengthen the spine, which helps improve breathing and running.

What Rhythm Should I Be Breathing to?

Your exact breathing rhythm will depend on how hard or easy you are running and/or the intended intensity of your workout.

What is breathing rhythm you ask?

Breathing rhythms refer to the number of foot steps you take with each foot while breathing in or out.

For example, a 2:2 rhythm would mean you take two steps (one with your right foot and one with the left) while breathing in and two steps (again, one with your right foot and one with your left) while breathing out.

This is part of the method we recommend to stop a side stitch if you are out running and get that familiar side stabbing feeling.

Easy runs

Typically, you’ll find that a 3:3 rhythm (three steps – one with your left, one with your right, one with your left – while breathing in) works best for warm-ups and most easy paced days.

This allows plenty of oxygen to be inhaled through the lungs, processed, and then exhaled with relative ease.

Don’t try to force yourself into a 3:3 breathing rhythm on an easy day if it isn’t feeling comfortable.

Remember, the purpose of an easy day is to keep your effort comfortable and to help the body recover. If a 2:2 rhythm (described below) is more comfortable, go with it.

Breathing slower than a 3:3 rhythm is not advised because you’re not giving your body enough time to clear carbon dioxide.

The average runner should take about 180 steps per minute (some a little less, others a little more), which means you take 90 steps with each foot in a one minute span.

A 3:3 rhythm enables you to take about 30 breaths per minute, ample time to process carbon dioxide while still getting in the oxygen you need.

Moderate paced runs

Runs harder than an easy run, but not all out race efforts, should typically be performed at a 2:2 ratio (two steps – one with your left, one with your right – while breathing in, two steps – one with your left, one with your right – while breathing out).

A 2:2 breathing rhythm enables you take about 45 breaths per minute, which is perfect for steady state, tempo runs, and marathon pace runs.

Hard workouts and Races

At the end of races or the end of a particularly hard interval session, a 2:2 breathing might not cut it. In this case, you can switch to a 1:2 (one step breathing in, two steps breathing out) or 2:1 (two steps breathing in and one step breathing out) breathing rhythm.

This will increase your oxygen uptake to 60 breaths per minute.

I don’t recommend a 1:1 breathing pattern.

At this rate, you’ll be taking shallow breaths and you won’t be able to inhale enough oxygen to maintain proper ventilation in the lungs.

On a personal note, I don’t pay much attention to breathing rhythms at the end of races. I prefer to run all out, focus on competing, and let my breathing take care of itself.

However, it can be helpful to those runners who become anxious as the final meters approach.

Why Will Fixing My Breathing Help Me?

While breathing rhythms can help you identify and monitor the intensity of your run, you can also use them to monitor and control other aspects of your training and racing.


Paying close attention to your breathing rhythm can help you monitor and “feel” your pace, especially on tempo runs or tempo intervals.

Once you lock onto your correct goal pace for the workout, you can monitor whether you begin to breathe faster or slower to identify when you accidentally speed up or slow down.

It requires close attention to detail, but it can help for runners who struggle maintaining a consistent pace.


Many runners wonder how to adjust their pace when taking on a hill during a race, even if you are using the correct running technique for hills.

Unless you know the exact grade and length of a hill, it’s very difficult to accurately measure how much you need to adjust your pace.

However, if you’re maintaining a 2:2 breathing rhythm through the race, then you should focus on maintaining that 2:2 rhythm as you tackle and crest the hill.

By maintaining the same breathing rhythm, you keep your effort even and prevent yourself from spending too much energy getting over the hill.

Side Stitches

If you encounter a side stitch while running, you can slow your breathing rhythm to take deeper, controlled breaths at a 3:3 rhythm.

Often, side stitches are caused by undue stress to the diaphragm, which is escalated by shallow breathing. If your side stitch persists after switching your breathing rhythm, you can try this trick for side stitches here.

As you can see, you have many ways that you can breathe and use rhythms to monitor your effort in workouts and races.

Try not to become too focused on your exact breathing rhythm every step you take. Do what feels comfortable and you’ll usually wind up falling into the proper rhythm by default.

Download your FREE breathing guide for Runners inside your Insider Members area.

It’s a PDF with images and descriptions of the most effective pilates exercises to strengthen your body while relaxing your mind.

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How you breathe while running can make the difference between an awesome workout and one that leaves you panting for air.

Though running is one of the most convenient of all sports, mastering the respiration element of this sport takes good timing, proper technique, and a lot of practice.

In fact, developing good breathing technique is likely the biggest challenge for beginner and intermediate runners.

In today’s article, we are going to take a look at rhythmic breathing. Specifically, what is it and how can you incorporate it into your training.

Does it sound like a good idea?

Then let’s get the ball rolling…

How to Master Rhythmic Breathing When Running

Also known as locomotor-respiratory coupling in science jargon, or cadence breathing, rhythmic breathing consists of creating a rhythm between breathing and your running gait—the way in which you run.

More specifically, it describes the number of foot strikes you during the inhale compared to how many steps you take on the exhale.

So, for instance, if you take two steps while breathing in, and then one step on while breathing out, your cadence breathing pattern is 2:1.

In general, your exact ratio will depend on many factors. These include training intensity, personal physiology, and personal preferences.

It Ain’t Easy

Since the method requires steady body coordination and breathing along with running movement, it’s a skill that’s hard to master.

That said, practice conquers all—and with it, you can master rhythmic breathing in just a few weeks of training.

The Benefits of Rhythmic Breathing

Rhythmic breathing can help in:

  • Getting more oxygen to your working muscles, resulting in better performance.
  • Improving your focus and mental game.
  • Calming the mind—that’s why it’s a big part of most yoga practices.
  • Reduce the workload placed on the respiratory system, improving respiratory efficiency.
  • Improving running economy.

In short, cadence breathing can help run faster, longer, and with more efficiency.

But most notably, some experts suggest that timing your breaths with your foot strikes can help prevent injury.

Here are the details

To understand the mechanism behind the reduced injury risk, let’s first look at what happens to your body when running.

When running, your feet strike the ground with a force of impact two to three times your body weight—depending, mainly, on your running speed and training surface.

And according to research that looked at the relationship between breathing and foot strikes, the impact forces are the highest when the foot strike coincidences with the onset of the exhalation.

Why is this bad?

When you breathe out, the diaphragm, and the surrounding muscles, especially your chest muscles, relax, resulting in less stability in the core.

So, if you’re always landing on the same foot on each exhale, you’re constantly stressing the same side of your body, resulting in a higher risk of injury on that side, in theory at least.

As a result, to prevent this, you’d want to alternate landing on the right and left foot at the beginning of each exhale.

That way you can diffuse the impact shock more evenly over both sides of your body.

This is achieved by using an odd-even cadence breathing ratio to match the foot strike with inhale-exhale.

Rhythmic Running Patterns To Play With

Here are the main breathing ratios.

The 3:3 Ratio

During the 3:3 pattern, you take three steps on the inhale, then another three on the exhale.

In general, you might take up to 30 breaths per minute with the 3:3 ratio.

For beginner runners whose sole goal is running at an easy and relaxed pace, the 3:3 ratio is the way to go. This pattern is also ideal for warm-ups, cool-downs, and recovery runs.

The 3:2 Ratio

For established runners, the 3:2 pattern is ideal, especially when running at moderate intensity effort, which should make up the majority of your training.

This ratio consists of taking three steps—right foot, left foot, right—on the inhale, then two steps—left foot, right foot—on the exhale.

And as I have already stated, opting for an odd-even breathing ratio may help prevent discomfort and injury since you’re alternating between landing on your right and left foot on the onset of the exhale.

This pattern may also help prevent painful side stitches and painful diaphragm cramps that plague many runners on the road.

The 2:2 Ratio

This translates to tow strides per inhale, two per exhale.

In general, you’ll be taking roughly 40 to 45 breaths per minute with this pattern.

The 2:2 is a good recipe for steady state cardio, such as tempo runs, and marathon pace training.

Just keep in mind that when using this ratio, you’ll be landing on the ground on the same foot at the beginning of each exhalation.

This, in theory, may cause one side of your body to withstand a greater stress load when running.

The 2:1

As you pick up the pace, switch to a 2:1 ratio.

With this ratio, you take two steps on the inhale, then one step on the exhale.

This is most suitable breathing pattern for tempo training—cruising at about 10K race pace, or slightly faster.

Fartlek and interval training should typically be performed within this ratio.

The 1:1 Ratio

Al-out-effort running and racing call for a 1:1 pattern.

You, basically, take one stride per inhale, one stride per exhale.

For most runners, this breathing ratio occurs during the final burst of middle or long distance races.

Note: Please keep in mind that the above breathing ratios should only be used as orienting guidelines. They’re not, by any means, universal rules that every runner out there should follow to the letter. So, you got to experiment with different patterns to find the best breathing rhythm for you.

Practicing Breathing Ratios In The comfort of Your home

Before you start tinkering with your cadence breathing, it’s always helpful to practice it a bit before you take it to the outside world.

Here is how

Start off by lying down on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground. Keep your face relaxed, with the mouth slightly open.

Next, while placing your hand on your chest and the other on your belly, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale out through the mouth.

Make sure your breathing is continuous and relaxed. Do not force it.

Once you’re set, inhale for the count of three, then exhale for the count of three—a 3:3 pattern.

Focus on keeping your breath smooth and continuous as you keep inhaling over the three counts and breathing out over the three counts.

Once you get used to this inhale/exhale pattern, add foot taps to mimic walking/running steps.

Walk it Off

Once you feel mastered rhythmic breathing while laying down, take it for a walk.

Take three steps on the inhale, then three on the exhale. Do this for a few minutes, then switch to a 3:2 ratio. So on and so forth.

Take it Out For A Run

Once you get the hang of walking cadence breathing, start matching your breaths with your foot strikes when running—typically, inhaling for three foot strikes and exhaling for two (3:2).

As a rule of thumb, practice cadence breathing on your slow, relaxed runs first. Be sure to set realistic starting points and goals.

Then, over time, slowly introduce cadence breathing into faster runs and speedwork training, making sure to opt for 2:2 or 2:1 ratios.

After a few months of practice, cadence breathing—whether it’s in a 3:2 or 1:1 ratio—will become automatic. You won’t even have to think about it.

Practice Belly Breathing

Before making the switch to rhythmic breathing, you first HAVE to become a “belly breather”. This is crucial as breathing this way allows for full lung expansion, which draws in more air.

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Here you have it!

I believe that I’ve just provided you with enough tools to learn and master rhythmic breathing while running.

The rest is up to you.

So, you gotta take action on what you’ve just learned ASAP. Otherwise, nothing will change.

How to Breathe When You Run: Trainer Tips and Techniques

What if we told you one of the most important parts of running had nothing to do with the shoes you wear, how far you run, or even how fast your pace is? You might not give a second thought to the way you breathe when going about your day, but when it comes time to hit the treadmill, those inhales and exhales can make or break your run.

Learning proper breathing technique is especially essential for those who are new to running. Understanding the ins and outs of breathing can help ease cramps, keep pace, and in some cases, prevent injury. Ultimately, regulating your breathing makes for a much more pleasant run. Follow our step-by-step guide below to master the simple art of breathing.

Aaptiv trainers can help you learn how to regulate your breathing with their classes in-app—and we’ve got classes for every level.

Step 1: Assess your breathing.

First, thing’s first: you need to understand where you’re going wrong with your breathing. Many new runners (mistakenly) think they can quickly get oxygen in and out of their lungs by breathing solely through their mouths, says Aaptiv trainer Rochelle Moncourtois. Instead, this quick staccato form can cause stitches or side cramps. “Breathing in through your nose and exhaling out your mouth is the most effective way of breathing to fill your lungs with air,” explains Moncourtois.

A second common rookie mistake is breathing with your chest instead of your belly. According to Moncourtois, belly breathing is actually the preferred technique for runners. Now, we know what you’re thinking, don’t you want to breathe through your chest? But here’s the reality of it: belly breathing, not chest breathing allows you to breathe with your diaphragm a.k.a. the powerhouse of the oxygen show.

Step 2: Focus on the belly.

Now, it’s one thing to talk about belly breathing and another thing to actually do it. For starters, understanding the physiology behind this method helps you to visualize what your body needs to do. By performing deep belly breaths, your lungs are able to expand to their greatest volume and fill up with the largest amount of air possible. The oxygen then flows through your system to all those muscles that are hard at work to keep you running.

You can practice your belly breathing while you’re running or while you’re at home watching TV. All you need to do is focus on keeping your chest and shoulders still and raising only your belly while inhaling and exhaling.

Step 3: Find your rhythm.

Another important way for a new runner to regulate their breathing is to concentrate on your rhythm, says Moncourtois. She says it’s best to time your breathing with the pace you are going. “You can always use music as a guide to help with a breathing pattern,” she adds.

(This is particularly easy when you’ve got some great playlists in every Aaptiv class that are designed to help keep you on beat!)

Rhythmically impaired? Many runners rely on the 2:2 method, which has you breathing in and out for equal counts. Your breathes might go something like this: “in-two, out-two, in-two, out-two.”

Step 4: Get back on beat.

Sometimes runs are unpredictable—you get a leg cramp, the weather doesn’t cooperate, you’re not in the zone—and your breathing pattern falls to the wayside. As soon as you notice that your breathing has become irregular, take it down a notch.

“The best way to get your breathing back is to slow down your pace and start to focus on your breathing pattern again,” says Moncourtois. “Keep the focus only on your breathing if you’re having trouble regulating it!” This means for the rest of the run, forget about pace, forget about what you’re eating after your run, and certainly forget about what happened during that big meeting today—focus on that in-through-the-nose, out-through-the-mouth method and visualize your belly rising and falling with each step!

Step 5: Prepare for the elements.

Alas, even the most masterful breather can get thrown for a loop when a little weather gets in the way. Moncourtois explains that the weather can absolutely affect your breathing. We all know that hot weather can make the air seem heavy and thick, but it can also make your breathes irregular and shallow, thus causing side stitches or dizziness.

But running when it’s icy cold, isn’t ideal either. With really cold climates, Moncourtois suggests taking quicker breaths filtered through your nose. “It doesn’t feel the best, but this lessens the shock value to your lungs!”

At the end of the day, running is so much more than your foot to the pavement. It’s a full body sport that takes some training even with something as simple as breathing.

Train with Aaptiv. We’ve got treadmill and outdoor running classes for all levels, ranging all different lengths.


Many beginner runners quickly find themselves out of breath while jogging. This usually means that their pace is too fast. But it can also be due to inefficient breathing. In today’s post, we show you how to breathe properly while running and thus improve your performance.

Deep belly breathing vs shallow chest breathing

While running you should use deep belly breathing (or diaphragmatic breathing) as it’s better for efficient and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) than shallow chest breathing. The air you breathe in only remains in the lungs a short time, thus preventing a complete exchange of air. This then reduces the amount of oxygen you take in. Poor breathing technique is often the reason why people get the dreaded side stitch while running.

Deep belly breathing, on the other hand, is much more efficient when running because it uses the entire capacity of the lungs. The air you breathe in also travels down to the lower portion of your lungs and stays there longer. This increases your oxygen uptake.


Exhaling deeply and consciously will automatically lead you to inhale deeply. This then helps improve your VO2 max.

How you can practice deep belly breathing

1. Lie down on the floor or on your sofa and place your hands or a light book on your stomach.

2. Breathe in and out deeply and consciously. You should be able to clearly see the book rise when you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.

3. Focus on trying to exhale all the air out of your lungs. With a little practice, belly breathing will become automatic and feel completely natural.

Nose breathing vs mouth breathing

In general, the goal should be to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide as efficiently as possible. Naturally, you can’t take in as much air through your nose as you can through your mouth. Thus, it makes sense to mainly breathe through your mouth when running. While it is true that the air is filtered and warmed when you breathe through your nose, it is not a good idea to deprive your body of a way of achieving maximum oxygen uptake when your body is under stress. As the intensity of your running increases, you will soon see that you cannot get enough oxygen by simply breathing through your nose.

Proper breathing rhythm while running

  • Easy runs at low intensity: 3:3 (three steps while breathing in and three steps while breathing out)
  • Medium-intensity runs: 2:2
  • Maximum and high-intensity runs: 1:1 (i.e. the final burst at the end of a race)

These rates should only be used as a rule of thumb, and they do not apply to every runner. The best way is to try out a few different breathing rhythms and find the one that feels most comfortable to you.

Some studies even reject the notion of setting recommendations on breathing rates. Regardless of your breathing rate and running intensity, the most important thing is to focus on deep, conscious belly breathing so you can increase the length of time you breathe in and breathe out.

Bottom line:

Avoid shallow chest breathing while running and focus on deep belly breathing. Breathe through both your nose and mouth, but primarily through the latter. Try out several different breathing rhythms and choose the one that feels most comfortable to you. Often your best breathing technique for running will develop by itself over time.


Running is a form of aerobic exercise. Quite literally, ‘aerobic’ means ‘with oxygen’. We need to breathe to get oxygen into the lungs. Although this sounds obvious, some runners have a shallow or laboured breathing style. However, there are some cases where this style of breathing results in severe muscle cramps, side stitches, poor performance or premature fatigue. Not only that, shallow breathing can also result in anxiety, which can be counter-productive if you run for relaxation. Anxiety also causes physical tension which can result in a loss of energy – resulting in less energy for your workout.

Deep Breathing

The majority of runners only use the upper two thirds of their lung capacity. However, diaphragmatic breathing, which fills the lower part of the lungs, can increase a runner’s aerobic capacity, reduce stress and even help to eliminate the dreaded runner’s cramps.

Deep breathing exercises can be performed prior to a run or during a run. However, depending on when they are performed, there is a slight variation in technique. Prior to a run, take a deep breath in through the nose and hold for five counts. Then, slowly release the breath through the mouth. Holding the breath during a run is not recommended. Simply breathe in for five counts, and then breathe out for five counts. Keep in mind that it is not always easy to breathe through the nose while running. If this is the case, go ahead and breathe through the mouth.

Many runners do not realise that while they run, they are holding tension in their shoulders, wrists, hands and jaws. The exhalation phase of the deep breathing exercise is a good time to release this tension. As you exhale, you can shake out your hands, roll your shoulders and open your mouth to relax your jaw.

Rhythmic Breathing
Although rhythmic breathing may be difficult to master, it can be an excellent way to coordinate your breathing patterns with your running movements. In fact, elite runners use this method as a means of ensuring an even rhythm to their running. Most elite athletes use a 2-to-2 breathing rhythm. This means that they take two steps per inhale, and two steps per exhale. At the end of the race, they might switch to a 2-to-1 rhythm, which involves a two-count inhalation followed by one-count exhalation.

The Cleansing Breath
When you wake up feeling congested, it may be difficult to motivate yourself for a run. Provided that you are not seriously ill, the cleansing breath can open your sinuses and clear out congestion, which might make it easier to go for a run.

The cleansing breath is borrowed from yoga. Use the two middle fingers of your left hand to close off your right nostril. Breathe in for four counts through your left nostril. Then, use your thumb to close the nostril. Hold the breath for four counts, and then release your fingers from your right nostril, and let the breath out for eight counts.

Repeat the process on the right nostril, using your right hand to close off the left nostril. After you’ve repeated the exercise a few times, you might want, and in fact be able to blow your nose.

Warming up your breathing muscles

These breathing techniques for running will help with your running performance, but don’t forget that you also need to warm-up your breathing muscles before a run, just as you warm –up your other muscles to help prevent injury. Warming up your breathing muscles can help to eliminate excessive breathlessness during the start of your run, and help you get into a natural breathing rhythm. Inspiratory muscle training targets your breathing muscles and is ideal for a pre-run warm-up and to help improve running performance.

Proper breathing for running

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