Breathing Techniques For Running

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

Breathing Techniques For Running


One of the most important aspects that you must work on to improve your efficiency as a runner is to have a correct breathing technique.

If when running you breathe in a shallow way instead of using a deep breath, you will not get very far before problems such as flatus appear or even exhaust yourself before your time and have to finish your training earlier than expected. In this article we are going to see what is the best way to breathe when you go for a run , so take a breath!

Breathing is Much More than Inhaling and Exhaling Air

It is possible that if you do not find yourself comfortable in your workouts, if you feel at some point that you lack oxygen or you simply think that you are not breathing in the most correct way and you could do it differently, whether you are a beginner or a runner experienced, it is very important that you take your time to learn and practice the most correct breathing method for you. As I just told you, breathing is much more than taking in and expelling air. For a runner, having correct breathing technique can make the difference between running harder and better or not performing as well.

Remember that the oxygen you inhale not only reaches your lungs, but your muscles also need it when you are exercising. In the specific case of running, which is an aerobic activity , oxygen is basic for your muscles and to achieve greater performance, they will need it in large quantities.

The Eternal Dilemma: Breathing through the Nose or through the Mouth when Running?

Breathing Techniques For Running

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You may read and hear everything about this question, but you should be clear that to run, the ideal is that you breathe as you feel more comfortable . Of course, you should take into account certain aspects.

In the case in which you are going to make a great effort at a fast pace, the most efficient thing is to breathe through your mouth . You will understand why in a very simple way: by breathing through your mouth you are able to inhale more air. When running, your muscles and your body require a greater amount of oxygen, so breathing through your mouth is more efficient and faster.

So my advice is not to breathe in only through your nose, unless the effort you are going to make is really low. If you are going to make moderate or high efforts, the oxygen supply that nasal breathing can provide you will not be enough and it is possible that in a short time you will feel dizzy or with a headache. Therefore, try to inhale as much air as possible through your nose and mouth and the same to exhale, depending on how you feel most comfortable.

And does not the throat suffer if when running I breathe through the mouth? If you run in winter in high humidity and low temperatures, you may have asked yourself this question.

It is true that breathing through your nose warms and filters more the air that reaches your lungs, and if the air is dry, when you breathe through your mouth you can make your throat dry more quickly. In contrast, it is necessary to point out that when you breathe through your nose, your facial muscles will tighten more and it will be more uncomfortable.

Therefore, depending on each case, you will have to see what it is that compensates you the most, but if you are going to go at a high pace it will always be better to open your mouth to inhale as much air as possible and be warm and with the right clothes, protecting your throat from the cold.


Types of Breathing While Running

Is it difficult for you to keep up with your race pace without getting fatigued? Or, do you suffer from annoying side stitches when you go for a run? If the answer to one of these questions has been negative, and also, you do not know very well how you breathe when you run, it is possible that you are not breathing correctly.

So that your breathing does not become a drag on your evolution as a runner, we are going to see what are the types of breathing and the most appropriate tips.

1. Clavicular Breathing

This type of breathing is done by filling the upper part of the lungs with air, so little air penetrates and it is not very effective breathing. Even so, it is what we do on many occasions when we run, especially in moments of fatigue or greater effort, when we strain our shoulders and arms.

We must avoid it, since we are not receiving all the oxygen our body needs: the lungs are insufficiently ventilated, the synchrony between heart and respiratory rates is broken and it forces us to open our mouths, which can increase our dehydration.

2. Chest Breathing

In thoracic-type inspiration, the midregion fills with air, causing the chest to dilate. In this case, the lungs swell and it is the chest that rises. This type of breathing is what we use in our daily lives, even when doing sports.

However, it is not the ideal breathing for running, since there is greater resistance to the entry of a greater volume of air, in contrast to other types of breathing such as abdominal breathing.

3. Abdominal Breathing

This type of breathing consists of filling the lower part of the lungs with air, moving our diaphragm downwards and causing our abdomen to swell and the belly to rise.

Breathing in this way we make a gentle descent of the diaphragm causing a constant and effective massage in our abdominal mass and our lungs gradually fill with air. Inspiration, in this case, must be slow, silent and deep, thus lowering our heart rate.

4. Complete or Diaphragmatic Breathing

This is the ideal breath for the runner. It is the one that unifies all the breaths mentioned above and consists of breathing from the diaphragm and not from the chest. Combining these three types of breathing will completely fill our lungs with air and, in the same way, completely empty them.

As air is exhaled and inhaled, the stomach expands and contracts, at the same time that the diaphragm is strengthened by air entering and leaving the lungs. In this way, we are making sure to take in more oxygen when inhaling and to completely empty our lungs, thus avoiding fatigue, hyperventilation or the dreaded and annoying side pang, known as ‘flatus’.

So why is taking a full breath more appropriate? Well, because its benefits when running are abundant, among which we can mention the following:

  • Increased elasticity in the lungs and chest
  • Greater physical and mental relaxation
  • Optimal oxygenation for the brain
  • Improvement of the state of the nervous system
  • Increase in the amount of blood, thanks to greater oxygenation
  • Rejuvenation of the skin and strengthening of the lungs

How Can I Identify the Type of Breathing I Do?

If you can’t figure out how you breathe, try doing the following test at home. Lie on your back and place the mobile on your chest and a book on your abdomen.

If nothing moves when you breathe, you are only doing shallow and clavicular breathing. If the mobile moves, you will be doing a thoracic breath, filling the lungs to half their capacity.

Finally, if it is the book that you manage to move while you breathe, you will be doing it well, since you will be filling your lungs completely using abdominal breathing.

By performing this exercise, you will be able to identify the type of breathing you do at rest, but then you will have to put it into practice when going out for a run, so you should internalize it well so that it comes out fluid once you start running. .

What is the Best Breathing Rate?

Here more variables come into play, such as the subjectivity of each runner to establish his own depending on how hard or soft his running rhythm is. If we define the breathing rhythm as the frequency of inhalations and exhalations according to the number of strides you make, for example, a 2: 2 frequency would be the one in which we would take two strides while inhaling the air and another two while exhaling.

In light training sessions, a 3: 3 frequency would suffice , three strides for each phase of breathing (about 30 breaths per minute, with a cadence of about 180 steps). Although if you are not comfortable with that frequency you can try a 2: 2. Both options are optimal for introducing and processing the sufficient amount of oxygen that your body will need.

If you run at moderate or high rates (but less intense than those of a race) your most suitable rate could be 2: 2 (about 45 breaths per minute). This rate should be enough to provide the necessary oxygen to all your muscles.

However, in very intense workouts or races , the pace is usually much higher so your breathing must also be different. The most common frequency, although it may vary, is 1: 2 (one step to breathe in and two to breathe out) or 2: 1 (just the opposite). In this way, it will be possible to increase the oxygen supply over 60 breaths per minute. With practice and experience, you may even end up adapting the 2: 2 frequency to these circumstances.

However, if you are starting to run, it is best not to get too obsessed with the rhythms of your breathing and go at a pace where you are comfortable enough.

3 Other Tips for Learning to Breathe Correctly

So that you can better control your breathing, keep in mind the following tips that will be very useful:

1. Strengthens the Respiratory and Core Muscles

Our ‘core’ is our center of gravity, made up of the abdominal muscles in the front, the glutes and the paraspinal muscles behind, the diaphragm in the upper part and the pelvic floor and the muscles that surround the hip (mainly the psoas) on the bottom. In total, about 29 muscles that stabilize our back and pelvis during the race.

Working and strengthening the respiratory muscles and the core is ideal for better breathing, and in this article we will tell you how you can do it. The best time to do this work is usually after each workout. Swimming is also an ideal cross training to work your breath, as well as Pilates or Yoga.

2. Coordinate Breathing with Strides

If you can run in a coordinated and elegant way, in addition to running faster and preventing injuries, you will be able to breathe more efficiently.

The secret is to try to coordinate your breathing with each stride you take, and so the rhythm will be dictated by your oxygen cadence. If you go at a moderate pace you will be able to breathe every three or four steps and if you work at a faster speed breathe every one or two, as I have mentioned before.

3. Maintain a Correct Posture While Running

Keep in mind that when running your torso must be completely erect and slightly inclined forward, the chest must be straight and the gaze should not be directed towards the feet but towards the horizon.

Also, to perform a correct stroke, you have to keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees and move your arms from the shoulders. Remember to throw your elbows back when running to propel yourself forward and breathe easier. If you maintain an upright and correct posture , you will be able to free the diaphragm and increase the volume of oxygen you inhale.

Take a Break and Take the Test!

The next time you go out for a run, I encourage you to do an analysis exercise on your breathing and try to identify what type of breathing you are doing. Try to see how you feel breathing only through your nose or through your mouth and see how your performance changes by varying the oxygen you contribute to your body according to the rhythm of your race.

Breathing seemed easy, right? If you are one of those who was not giving importance to the subject of breathing, you must be aware once and for all that the way you breathe while running will help you correct your technique or adapt your rhythm and improve it will help you be more efficient as a runner.

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