how to improve breathing while running

How to Improve Breathing While Running? All You Need To Know

Naturally speaking, it is involuntary, let alone necessary, that we need to breathe in order to survive. We cannot ever stop doing so, as our body continually filters out oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals in the environment as means of keeping our heart pumping, our blood flowing, and our brain functioning. Breathing is essential, and with that we do it every day.

That said, you might think much about breathing in your normal day-to-day life, whether you are out doing errands or relaxing at home in front of the television. However, you might give it a second thought when you engage in sports, such as running, which require you to really be aware of it.

In other words, having a good breathing pattern can make or break your running performance, since more oxygen and other elements are needed in the body to pump more blood to the heart, as well as to the muscles to keep you going. Hence, you might be wondering just how to improve breathing while running, and with that, we are here to help! Read on to learn more on how to do so, by receiving tips and tricks to get you started. Soon enough, you will be breathing and running like a pro.

Without further ado, let’s get started!


Why is breathing important in running?

Besides being an essential part of keeping you alive, breathing also is important when it comes to exercises, especially aerobic ones like running or swimming.

Whenever you inhale, you are sending a mixture of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other elements in the environment into your lungs, which are there processed to filter out any unnecessary elements before sending the purified version to the rest of your body: the brain, the heart, the muscles, etc.

That said, you need a significant amount more of oxygen in your body when you are running, in order to allow the heart to pump harder and for the muscles to receive more oxygen to push yourself forward. You cannot afford to have little oxygen for this kind of training, so having a good breathing pattern is the best way to go.

How can I improve breathing while running?

Now that you know why breathing is important to produce the best running experience, it is time to go ahead and start training yourself to breathe better. You might be surprised to discover that having a good breathing pattern can help you go farther and faster while also being less tired. Here, we give you the essentials of what you need to do in order to benefit from a proper breathing pattern:

1. Determine the pace.

Your breathing pattern is not all set in one kind of manner, but rather it greatly varies depending on how fast you are or want to go. In other words, your breathing as demonstrated in warm-ups will be different from when you are performing a time trial on the track. We break down the different paces for you to know about:

  • a. Slow (warm up). Technically, this pace refers to both warm ups and cool downs, since it is a light jog around the block to get you ready for the run that is ahead of you. As a rule of thumb, you will be taking more steps per breath compared with other tempos, since you will be going slowly.
  • b. Moderate. Evidently faster than a slow pace, a moderate one usually refers to when you are currently doing the workout, going anywhere between 60 to 70 percent of your maximum speed. Of course, you will be breathing faster and harder, taking less steps per breath in order to compensate for the lack of oxygen in your body.
  • c. Fast (time-trial speed). Considered as part of using 80 percent or more of your maximum speed, the fast pace usually occurs when you are performing a time trial during track practice or participating in a race in which you would like to break your personal record. All the same, you will be taking significantly less steps per breath compared with the other paces to make up for the depletion in the oxygen reservoir.

2. Calculate the number of breaths per minute.

Now that you have an idea of when you would like to go slowly, moderately, or quickly on your run (i.e. beginning, middle, end), you will need to calculate the number of breaths per minute to maximize your running experience. For instance, a fast run would require you, on average, 60 breaths per minute.

If that is a bit too much pressure for you, then another alternative is to use a ratio of number of steps taken to one breath (aka inhale). It allows for you to establish a rhythm that is manageable while not having to worry about satisfying the quota for breaths per minute.

As a rule of thumb, a slow pace has a 3:3 rhythm (3 steps for inhale, 3 steps for exhale) while a moderate pace is 2:2 (2 steps for inhale, 2 steps for exhale). A fast pace would be 2:1 (2 steps for inhale, 1 for exhale) to make sure that you are optimizing oxygen intake and absorption into your system. Granted, everyone will have different rhythms, so take these ratios as a general guideline when planning your run.

3. Breathe out through the diaphragm.

Believe it or not, many athletes tend to breathe through the chest which is actually not the most optimal way to maximize oxygen intake. Instead, it is more beneficial to do so through the diaphragm, i.e. the area just right above the stomach, as means of letting more air into your body. Practice doing so, and it should be rewarding in the end.

Here is a video on how to breathe better while running: 


Overall, it is a matter of paying attention to yourself and knowing just how you breathe when you run. From that, you can take steps to control and improve your breathing pattern, which in the end will serve you well for becoming a better runner.

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