How to Breathe While Running (this might surprise you)

Running is a beautiful sport because of it’s simplicity. Just lace up your shoes and run (after a dynamic warm-up, of course).

Breathe While Running

You don’t need a team.

You don’t need a court, field, or arena.

Besides a good pair of running shoes, there’s no special equipment.

And you can run anywhere, in virtually any climate.

When I fell in love with running in 1998, its this simplicity that captured my heart.

You mean all I have to do is get to the finish line faster than the next guy? I’M IN! 

And the first eight years of my running career – in high school and at the college level – were marked by this simplicity. I had more than ten coaches over this time (including an Olympian) and we focused on the fundamentals.

Consider this: after eight years and 10+ coaches, there was never any discussion of:

  • Minimalism, heel-toe drop, or maximalism
  • Arbitrary heart rate zones or “limits” (Maffetone, anyone?)
  • How to breathe while running

While some of these are worthwhile topics, they’re the final 1% of training. Topics like these barely help your running – it’s much more important to focus on fundamentals.

Vern Gambetta (elite level coach and athletics consultant) eloquently answered a question about breathing in two simple sentences:

Vern has a way with words…

Today, I’m going to add nuance to his answer and discuss the best way to breathe while running.

There’s a whole slew of misinformation and misunderstanding about this topic so I’m ecstatic to set the record straight once and for all.

Should I breathe through my nose or mouth?

Your mouth. Always. It’s that simple.

While you’re running, you need as much oxygen as possible. The nose can’t get in nearly as much oxygen as the mouth so its less preferred.

The nose isn’t that efficient as the mouth because it’s smaller. It can help out, of course, but it shouldn’t be the primary way of breathing while you’re running.

There’s a very good reason why the best runners don’t nose-breathe – it slows them down.

We would be wise to model our behavior after the best runners. They’re good for a reason.

What’s the best ratio of breaths to steps?

There is none!

Sure, you can go find all kinds of wacky stuff on the internet. There are folks hocking breathing ratios, odd patterns, and citing “atmospheric pressure” and “injury prevention” as reasons for fiddling with your breathing pattern.


At SR, you know that I focus on what really matters. If you follow my training philosophy – worrying about what’s important and forgetting about minutaie – you’ll be a successful runner.

Strength Running presents one unified training theory rather than a collection of articles that are influenced by competing training ideologies. There is no conflicting information here.

You don’t have to hop back and forth and get confused by a collection of articles that disagree with each other.

And when it comes to breathing, just breathe naturally when needed mostly through your mouth.

If you’re just starting out as a runner, your body will figure out the optimal ratio through experience, trial and error, and a variety of workouts that challenge your breathing patterns in different ways.

The reason why I dislike specific ratios is that it’s distracting and difficult to implement.

Want to lose your enthusiasm for running? Try forcing yourself into a certain breathing ratio…

But I heard that even breathing patterns (like 2:2 or 3:3) increase your injury risk!

No, they don’t. 

There was a study done in 2013 at the University in Utah by Bramble and Carrier that studied the relationship between steps and breathing.

Unfortunately, it was used by Budd Coates (author of Running on Air) to prove that an even breathing pattern leads to runners always breathing out when the same foot hits the ground. This leads to always stressing the same side of the body, resulting in a higher injury risk.

But study author Dennis Bramble denies this. He found no evidence of this in his research and he was simply theorizing in the paper. Now he says, “I now think the idea rather improbable.”

This is yet another example of an entire “movement” being born out of misinterpreted science.

I can’t catch my breath when running. How do I breathe better?

Many beginner runners will find that every breathing pattern is impossible because they’re always out of breath.

If breathing is difficult – no matter what pace you’re running – this is just a signal that you’re out of shape. You need to gradually run more over time, build your endurance, and making running a consistent habit.

Once running is a regular part of your life, that constantly-out-of-breath feeling will subside.

A few years ago I was coaching a runner just like this. She had only been running for a few months after being a smoker for years. When we first started working together, her heart rate and breathing were higher than they should be on every run.

What did we do to fix the problem? Well, not much. We focused on running by effort, making sure that even if her breathe rate was high, the relative effort was where it needed to be.

After running consistently with a focus on buliding endurance, her breathing and heart rate normalized. She just needed to get through that initial transition period first.

My mouth gets dry when I breathe through it while running. Any advice?

If this is your problem, dehydration might be an issue. When you’re running in the heat of summer, it’s important to start every run well-hydrated (make sure your pee is pale yellow in color) and drink fluids for runs longer than about 75-90 minutes.

Anne Mauney MPH, RD and I cover fueling and hydration more thoroughly in this audio seminar.

There are also a few things you can do to make your mouth less dry while running:

  • Chew gum to stimulate the salivary glands into producing more saliva
  • Have a piece of hard candy or gummy bears if you don’t like gum
  • Stop periodically for water at the local water fountains

If you strongly dislike eating or chewing something while running, a compromise is to breathe through your nose during easy runs when oxygen demands are low.

But during faster workouts, races, or challenging long runs you’ll need that precious oxygen in your lungs!

Final Thoughts on How to Breathe While Running

I know that I’m suggesting you become a primitive mouth-breather when you run. But it’s more effective than nose breathing, hands-down.

There’s no need to worry about breathing through your nose, alternating between nose and mouth, or a specific ratio of breaths to steps.

Just breathe as much as needed, through your mouth, and worry about your performance – not this nonsense.

Of course, if breathing through your nose is a meditative or calming exercise while running then that’s fine. Enjoy yourself!

But the way I approach this topic – and indeed, how I approach everything with running – is how it relates to helping you run faster.

Now, a quick question for you:

Do you focus on breathing while running? What strategies do you have for helping new runners with this topic? Leave your answer below.

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  1. Some words of caution…I always kept thinking that me being out of breath during running is due to me being out of shape, but after 2 years I finally got myself to see a doc & was diagnosed with exercise induced Asthma. So if it really doesn’t get better, it is something to consider. 🙂

  2. Lesley Mizer says:

    Word! Thanks for confirming I have one less thing to worry about. 😉

  3. Laurie Haibach says:

    You were asking fellow runners for their thoughts on breathing while running. I am a very slow, and older female runner, not looking to take a podium (I hear it’s crowded up there!). I just want to stay in shape, and finish the races I start. as to breathing…I run without thinking about it, until I begin to feel winded. Then I begin the 2 steps-breathe in, 2 steps-breathe out. I actually say it in my head – “In-In, Out-Out”, until my breathing becomes regular again. I may even need to slow my running just a bit until it normalizes. Then I go back to NOT thinking about breathing again, and enjoy the race. During a 5k, I may check myself this way, about once a mile, so I have energy left for the end, energy left to smile at the finish!
    I might add, that the first 3/10ths of a mile, I am always having trouble getting the breathing under control, because I tend to look at all those fast folks ahead of me, getting farther away! Once I get my mind back to MY race, it settles down. Hope this might be helpful to those at my age and level of running (58years old, 5k time 35mins)

  4. Deavertex says:

    I’m still trying to be ABLE to breathe when I run. It usually only takes about a half minute before I’m breathing hard and if I’m going uphill, beginning to “feel funny” in my hands, feet, and lower legs. Not fatigued or burning, just “funny”, which is the only word for it. I’m always amazed to read that it should be your legs giving out long before breathing is a problem. Wow. It’s managed to make me quit trying to run more times than I can remember.

    • Don’t quit! It gets easier after a few months of consistency.

    • Corey Whaley says:

      When I started running (only a little over a year ago), it was always my breathing that was a problem first. When running intervals, I could always catch my breath in the walking intervals. But trying to transition from intervals to continuous running became a huge obstacle for me.

      I was trying to maintain a 160+ cadence, but that always left my breathing quite ragged. My solution was to focus on my breathing first, since that was the issue. This is really the only time I’ve worried about my breathing. When my breathing became ragged, I would concentrate on even, controlled breaths, and then let my pace slow down to allow my body to continue that breathing pattern without having to think about it.

      That flipped a proverbial switch, and I was immediately able to run continuously. I let my pace develop naturally after that, without “forcing” myself to maintain a specific cadence if my breathing ever became ragged again.

  5. I breathe in a manner similar to why I don’t listen to music when I run…I am a very rhythmic person (and a little OCD) so I breathe in rhythm to my running pace. That means a breath in on two steps (or whatever pace I am running) and a breath out on two steps…it isn’t something I work at, it just comes natural. This is why I don’t run with music…I would run to the beat of the music and it would destroy any pace I am trying to achieve.

  6. Does “blowing out the candles” when exhaling help prevent and/or deal with side stitches?

    • Nobody knows. Side stitches are mostly a mystery, believe it or not.

      • Corey Whaley says:

        For me, side stitches have just meant that I wasn’t in quite good enough shape for whatever I just attempted. When I was a kid, I got them from any kind of prolonged physical activity, which reinforced my tendency toward a sedentary lifestyle (that and just being generally uncoordinated).

        As an adult who’s only become active in the last couple of years, I generally only experience them when I push a little too hard, especially if I’ve had to miss a run or two. I just kind of accept them as part of improving my overall fitness. But they’re so infrequent for me that it doesn’t cause much alarm.

        This is all subjective, anecdotal, and unscientific, I know.

    • When I took a running class for PE in college 30 years ago, the teacher offered some information on breathing that I had not heard during my high school cross country years. She suggested that when you breath in, you think about the air going all the way into your stomach (so to speak) and then when exhaling feeling like your chest and stomach cavities are completely deflating. Also she suggested breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. I can’t follow either of those suggestions naturally, but when I have a side stitch focusing on breathing fully in and out changes the muscle pattern enough that if gives the cramping side muscle a chance to “unstitch.”

      Also, I have always been a “hard breather” no matter what my shape. And my mouth gets very dry. I can’t run without a bottle of water or access to frequent drinking fountains.

  7. When I’m in the middle of training for a race and in better shape I don’t think about my breathing at all. Being able to run freely is super fun and totally worth all the toil!

  8. Steve Meyer says:

    Thank you. I often try these different breathing methods, thinking I must need to do that to get better. It never works for me. Thanks for just telling me to keep breathing.

  9. Most of the time I follow the pattern of inhaling for two steps, exhaling for two steps.

    Occasionally I’ll use this as a tool to measure my cadence: on a run I’ll set my watch’s countdown timer to one minute continuous (so it beeps every minute) and I’ll count my breaths. Since my feet are hitting the ground 4 times per breath cycle, my goal will be to complete 43 breath cycles in a minute; if I hit that number, I know that my steps per minute are 43 x 4 = 172, which is a pretty good cadence I believe.

    Is that weird? It involves a little bit of arithmetic, but hey, it keeps my mind busy for a while.

    • Honestly, yes that’s weird. Why use breaths as a substitute for steps when you can simply count steps? Isn’t that more direct?

      And yep, 170+ is desirable while running easy.

      • Yeah, counting steps would be more direct, but I find it far easier to focus on the breath.

    • I also take 4 steps per breath and measure my cadence the same way. Counting steps is hard because it’s difficult to count that fast. Counting at one fourth the rate is quite doable.
      I usually only need to do for 30 seconds and then (after multiplying by 4) just double it. Actually it’s easier in that. Since my goal is to be at a 180 steps/min, I just need to hit 45 breaths in one minute or 22-23 in 30 seconds.
      On my last marathon (PR and first Boston Qualifier for me!) I tried to check my cadence by counting breaths once/mile. It helped to keep my cadence closer to my 180 steps/min plan–and it help “kill some time” during the hard parts…:)
      If you breath on a regular cadence, I recommend you try the experiment of counting breaths to measure steps/min.

  10. How much you focus on your breathing might depend on what you get out of it.

    This might be because I’m a musician (and one who uses the breath), but I find that breathing rhythmically feels good to me and it really helps my pace and endurance. The exact pattern and duration will vary depending on what I’m trying to accomplish.

    I rarely get side stitches, but I’ve had success once or twice with the trick where you take a big, sharp inward breath while the leg on the same side as the stitch is striding forward. I think I’m remembering that correctly… it’s a trick I’ve had to use only rarely.

    And breathing long, inward through the nose and out through the mouth also has a lot going for it – especially when you find yourself running through dark swarms of bugs, as we do around the lake in the evening. At the right pace it’s very relaxing.

  11. Jeff, a much easier and less time-consuming way of gauging the beats-per-minute rate of either your steps OR breaths is to memorize the feel of a song with the same musical tempo (or listen to it as you run), and synchronize your steps with that song as you run. Take your pick, there are tons of them. Hope that helps.

    • Hi Jean, thanks for the feedback. I feel that my cadence is mostly ok, and whenever I take a moment to focus on it, I use the song tempo technique you describe. I’m pretty familiar with the drum parts of some songs that fall right in that desirable range, so it’s easy to sync up to those. I only mention my weirdo cadence math in relation to the topic of breath…

  12. Karen Norvell says:

    I have always breathed through my mouth .. and for a long time suffered randomly with stitches. I could never really pin it down to any specific reason .. I’ve had them when I’ve eaten, when I’ve not eaten, when it’s been cold & warm, when I’ve been running short & quick and long & slow … however, when I changed my breathing pattern ( I have always kind of had a counting breaths to steps pattern anyway for rhythm and I occasionally listen to music so that affects the breathing & step pattern too! ) to 3:2 I noticed an almost immediate difference to no more stitches …. that’s been for over a year now! So, I have to say that in some instances, it’s a bit more than just breathing in & out that you need to do 🙂

  13. As a fledgling runner in have far more important things to worry about. Is my posture good? Am I running to hard to finish my run? How much farther? Where the hell am I? Breathing? I just breathe. Already knew how to do that before I run.

    • Corey Whaley says:

      Love it. And very much in the spirit of Jason’s post.

    • “Where the hell am I?” hahaha

    • Mike Auld says:

      Exactly. We all knew how to breath before we (re)started running! Run like a kid! Take a breath if u need it. I only concentrate on brewing when I’m pushing the pace and I start ‘sucking wind’. I just get my breathing back under control with a few DEEP inhales/exhales while maintaining pace. Just breath in the most efficient manner possible. Why try and draw air through a straw(nose) when your BIG MOUTH is right there? Run for your lives people!

  14. Frederico says:

    Lack of proper breathing has been a major obstacle for my running progress. I used to run. Ran a few marathons back in the late 70s and early 80s. Then I entered the world of business and except for weight lifting I never paid much attention to my love for running. The result of my decades as a world traveler and weekend weightlifting warrior was a massive heart attack and a triple bypass.
    It’s now about 18 months after my surgeries. I feel great. I’ve been doing yoga, meditation and cross fit. Back in June I realized that running was something I truly missed, so I gave it a go. Much to my surprise, after a few very difficult one mile sessions I was able to complete a 5k run. It was far from easy and in fact left me wiped for a few days. My biggest issues were proper pace and breathing. I think I worked out the pace issue. The breathing remains a mystery to me. I got through my 5k by employing a Run/walk methodology. I’ve continued my running once a week but continued breathing issues have marred my progress. I’m heading for a run tomorrow morning and am looking forward to casually giving the mouth breathing a chance. Nothing would make me happier than being able to run 10-20 miles per week.

  15. I don’t think much about begin with ! If I begin to feel short of breath, I mouth breathe till I feel in control again.

    A question : Is pursed lip breathing any better than normal exhalation while running ?

    Somebody mentioned “feeling funny in hands, legs and feet.”

    Legs and feet are understandable. But if you are “feeling funny” in the hands as well, shouldn’t it be attended to ?

    Great blog ! Inspiring!

  16. Jason, I did read Budd Coates’ book. I agree with you 95% that there’s no need to worry much about breathing. But for me, it helps me stay within a certain “effort zone”. For example, on long easy runs I breathe 3 steps in and 2 steps out. If I find myself needing more breath, I know I need to slow down. In races I start running with 2 steps in 2 steps out. Again, if that’s not enough breath I know by now I’d better slow down or I’ll have problems later in the race. Towards the end of a race I’ll breath however I need to in order to finish. But watching my breathing helps me stay at the effort I know I can sustain. That’s the usefulness for me, and I enjoy the meditative quality of paying attention to my breathing.

  17. I only started running recently so breathing is quite a problem for me. But I have some experience doing breathing exercises for singing classes, since singing is mostly about utilizing breath to its fullest extent in order to convert it into sound. I try to apply the technique of using the diaphragm while breathing when I run. It does not always work and it often slips my mind entirely but I’ve noticed it’s a great way of getting a second wind. It becomes very useful when I feel I can’t take another step.

  18. David Ladehoff says:

    Breathing is a terrific way for biofeedback while running. I’ve always focused on cross country and road racing that have varying terrains. I am a typical 5:4 ratio runner if I’m at 15 min 5K pace, 4:48 per mile.
    And circular breathing, like that used in Lamaze, controls pain threshold. This is the breathing in through the nose and exhale through the mouth. It helps with dry mouth, opening air ways from hay fever, and warms the air by 9F preventing athletically induced asthma from running in winter air below 20 F.
    I used these breathing methods when high altitude training in Colorado. It takes about four weeks to feel like you’re not suffocating but returning to Iowa, breathing easy on interval training is a 7:6 ratio.
    I rarely focus more than a few cycles on my breathing. It is now second nature. My running success is/was what I’ve been able to do with breathing biofeedback, miles of training, and staying uninjured.

  19. Thanks for demystifying this. I had it all backwards! And just yesterday I saw a coach training a few cross country kids at the trail by my house. One of them, after finishing a round and before the next one, stopped out of breath bending down with hands at his hips and coach told him “straighten up! You won’t recover like this”. I asked him what he meant, of course it made perfect sense but I never thought of it; he said, “when you bend down, your can’t get enough oxigen in, if you stand up your chest expands to let more oxygen in and you need all the oxygen you can get”.
    I also heard him shout something about arching eyebrows! That’s my question next time I see him!

    • Right, it’s better to stay upright. This also helps you keep moving – you shouldn’t (most of the time) come to a dead stop in between repetitions. Not sure about those arching eyebrows though!

      • The only thing I can think of is that arching the eyebrows may keep away the tension frowning may cause ????

  20. Corey Whaley says:

    Jason, I would have sworn that you had explicitly endorsed nose-only breathing via an article by Matt Frazier. But then I found I’d remembered it incorrectly. After a quick search, I found that you were only presenting a different point of view from your own, and even then his context was of extreme long-distance running or a meditative approach, not improving performance.

    I actually tried Matt’s approach just for fun, but never got into it. I had to slow way down to accommodate that breathing, and would rather focus on improving performance, which is already enjoyable to me anyway.

    Dry mouth:
    I was recently in a musical where I had a LOT of dialogue, and found myself getting dry mouth from so much continuous speaking and singing every night. I already drink a lot of water, so I like your recommendations for generating more saliva. My solution was keeping lemon drops off-stage, and I popped one every chance I got.

  21. I trained 10k and half marathon last year and I gained 8 lbs and struggled to lose weight again. I finished 10 milers race last spring. I stopped training and finally lost weight. I want to race half marathon but I am afraid to gain weight. How does this problem solved?

    I only run for cardio after weight training and I drink protein shake for muscle lean purpose but running?

  22. Totally agree here. This is sort of a professional pet-peeve of mine. As a physiologist who’s done research in this area I know that our brainstems control ventilation with a great deal of precision. In fact, without delving into the boring details, the brainstem is able to for control ventilation with much greater precision than heart rate or blood pressure! It’s always annoyed me these pieces of advice for breathing and running. Yeah, just run, your brainstem will know exactly what to do.

    • Exactly. This is an subconcious activity, just like heart rate like you mentioned. How should you breathe when getting groceries? Or walking up the stairs? Trust your body. It knows what to do.

  23. I use nose breathing to help modulate my effort – a slow and steady run can be managed with nose breathing alone. Also, when I’m trying to breathe through the occasional diaphragm cramp, nose breathing helps with complete, slow inhalations and exhalations. In general, when I’m focusing on relaxation, nose breathing is a useful adjunct.

  24. Kevin J Smith says:

    I always tell my runners that they should focus on the exhale as opposed to the inhale. When running hard you’re always breathing hard and you want as much oxygen as you can get! I have found that sometimes when your focus is on getting air into your lungs the exhale is not the priority and it becomes shallower and shorter leaving air in the lungs that could have been exhaled. When the focus is on the exhale, there is less air left in the lungs and more room for new air and oxygen. Too much carbon dioxide can cause an increase in lactic acid which makes running even harder. So I always tell runners focus on getting rid of the carbon dioxide so there is more room for oxygen.

    Having a high cadence when running is a good thing. Many runners tend to hover around 70-80rpm when 90-100rpm is where they should be for efficiency and injury prevention. When trying to change that cadence it can be hard because thier breathing is in sync with the rhythm of thier legs and arms and I usually say to them, your arms are what controls the cadence of your legs and your breathing is not part of that so let it do its own thing.

  25. I totally agree with you that noise breathing is inefficient. I began running for the first time basic training in the Army, and bunch of drill instructors insisted on nose breathing. One old school instructor noticed I was struggling with breathing altogether and told me to ignore their advice and just breathe through my mouth. I didn’t struggle nearly as much after that. I did learn a few other tricks too: one of these was if you’re going to focus on breathing, just focus on the exhale. Make sure you exhale every time, as much volume as possible. Inhaling is automatic. Your body will make sure you get oxygen somehow. Not sure if it’s getting more CO2 out that helps, but I’ve found I struggle less and have fewer side cramps. Thanks Jason, for writing this article and for continuing to debunk running myths.

  26. I’m just getting back into running after a foot surgery, while I know my breathing is not right yet and it will come in time like you article said but I have a question.
    Should be taking my breaths from the lungs or the stomach? Does it even matter? Thanks!

  27. Barbara Hubbell says:

    I focus on trying not to die while trying to breathe while trying to run!

    I’m working on that endurance thing while I multi-task… 🙂

  28. This will be my second full year of running. For me, it’s more about effort level. I don’t think about breathing, until I’m pushing too hard. I then think more about easing up a little to recover…to do this I really think about my form and shortening my stride. I also use a heart rate monitor and track my runs on my phone so I can tell from my HR what my effort level is. So, I never think about breathing patterns. What if your effort level changes? Hills, temperature, and general effort level of run will dictate how hard you are breathing. I don’t understand how that can be done rythmycally anyway.

  29. Actually, when I started running, (in 1995 after 22 years of cigarette smoking) I used my breathing to determine how fast I should run. I ran no faster than my breathing would allow. If I was out of breath, I slowed down until I could keep my breathing going. My pattern has developed organically to 2 steps per inhalation, 2 steps per exhalation. As I gained fitness and endurance, I continued to breathe the same way. Now I know that if I can run 3 or more steps without inhaling I ain’t working hard enough.

  30. I think breathing is one of the most underrated element of running. Before I run, I take the time to breathe deep through the nose into my left and right ribcage as I stretch from each side. Big long exhales through the mouth and I stay mindful of inhaling shorter than I exhale until I get to my pace and don’t think about it until I hit a hill or change pace. What’s even more important is the breath work AFTER your run, to bring you back into a parasympathetic state and therefore reduce cortisol production. 🙂

  31. One thing i haven’t seen other than the question in the comments is breathing into your stomach. I like to do this especially on uphills, I prefer to make my stomach go out on the inhale (takes surprising amount of thought and practice for me). One coach told me that was the best way to pull your breath all the way through your lungs. To clarify the opposite would be to make your chest go out and your stomach in on the inhale which I try not to do.

  32. I try to run by effort. When I am in the “yellow” zone, then my breaths come easily. The “orange” zone is a bit harder & I can hear my breath going in & out; but I am not at the point of gasping for air. In the “red” zone, I can not only hear my breath gasping but I can feel my lungs bursting for air! This zone is hardest of all & I can’t maintain it for long but I do know by my breath when I am in the zone.

  33. Jason – this is great. I read a lot in Runners World from Bud Coates about breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, using a 3-2 pattern (inhale vs exhale) and felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen through my nose and wasn’t expelling enough in that ratio. So I just, um, breath. I don’t worry about it – but I do feel like I was not doing well enough.

    Now you made me feel better, and I won’t worry so much about it. Thanks!

  34. Pieter Wessel says:

    Thanks for this. It is confirming exactly how I approach. The beginners story is indeed popping up all the time:)

  35. I’m a mouth breather. I once sucked in a bug and had no choice but to swallow it as it got stuck in my throat…yuk….not the most pleasant way to get your protein.

  36. Jennifer Doud says:

    I have found that expanding your stomach instead of your chest when breathing during a run can keep you from getting side aches. Singers focus on this deeper breathing also.

  37. Laurie Dexter says:

    I have run over 80 marathons and many 100ks, 100 milers, 24 hour races and so on, and my breathing seems to fall into a natural rhythm with my stride – HOWEVER – varying greatly with speed, hills and other factors that affect the level of exertion. Sometimes this means gasping with every stride and at others cruising along holding a conversation with no awareness of breathing. BUT I do have a couple of “tricks” that I have found helpful. One is to take a few big breaths in which I try to fill the lower part of my lungs, pushing out my abdomen, which seems to help to stave off stitches. Similarly I occasionally try to fill the upper part of my lungs right up to the shoulders. In brief I try to make sure I am using the full capacity of my lungs. I don’t know if there is any medical evidence that this is even possible, but it feels beneficial to me.

  38. I’ve been running for over 40 years. I have never worried about how I breathe. I breathe through my mouth and take breaths as needed. Running is not a complicated sport and it should not be made out to be. Too many people are trying to make a $ out of it and it actually turns people away.

  39. Jason Novack says:

    After reading Scott Jurek’s book where he pushes nose breathing as something that must be slowly added in to the training I tried it. I do have to say that I feel like I get much deeper and fuller breaths when clamping my lips and breathing through my nose and it did take some trial and effort. Certainly aren’t doing it when cresting the top of a long climb at 8000 feet.

  40. Running—Mindfullness—Breathing

    For me, running is medicine. In that awareness, not manipulation is helpful for me. The simple act of noting sensations, bringing my attention to my breath, grounds me and allows a flow.

    Good medicine you!

  41. There are only two times I ever focus on breathing while running: 1. If I need to focus. There’s been some tough runs that just beg me to stop or slow down; but when this happens (and there’s no injury concern) I just focus on my breathing to stop the negative voices. or 2. if I’m experiencing a side stitch. To be honest, I haven’t experienced a side stitch since high school, so I don’t know if this trick is valid or if it’s all placebo. But my high school team all did this. When we got a side stitch we would focus on breathing in on one foot and breathing out on the same foot. It always got rid of the stitch but that could have been because we were breathing deeper/more evenly/etc. I still give this advice out to beginner runners since it helped me; but I don’t pretend like it’s founded in science (maybe it is maybe it isn’t! but if it isn’t I’d like to keep it working!)

  42. I try to focus on breathing deeply and avoid shallow air snapping. I am also trying to run upright and don’t fold over. Doesn’t work all the times, though 🙂

    The rest will come by itself.