Running Tips: Don’t Forget to Breathe

Running Tips - Don't Forget to Breathe

Just because I’m personally lying low when it comes to running at the moment because of my injury, I can still share a few tips that can help you become a better runner.

It can be frustrating to be on a run where your legs want to go faster, but your lungs just can’t keep up. It could simply be because you’re out of shape, or maybe you need to practice breathing.

If at this point you have realized you don’t know how to breathe at all you should probably seek medical attention immediately.

Why you breathe more when you run

First, some background knowledge.

When you start in any kind of exercise, your muscles need more oxygen, because they need it to make energy. Best way to do this? Breathe more. But it’s not only about the number of in- and exhalations, it’s also about the quality. To get a lot of oxygen deep into the lungs, you need a deep inhalation. When you breathe rapidly and uncontrollably, like on a tough run, you’re not getting the oxygen your muscles need. The fast inhalations are too shallow and lots of the oxygen doesn’t reach the bloodstream. It means you’re pushing your body to it’s limits.

You might never have thought of it this way, but you can actually train your lungs. More specifically the diaphragm, a muscle at the bottom of your rib cage. One of the differences between trained and untrained people, is that untrained people need to more air to get the same amount of oxygen to the muscles.

When you take a breath, 80 percent of the work is done by the diaphragm. If you strengthen your diaphragm, you may improve your endurance and be less likely to become fatigued.

– Everett Murphy, M.D., a runner and pulmonologist at Olathe Medical Center in Olathe, Kansas.

Are you a belly-breather?

Or a belly talker? It’s not relevant, I just think it’s super cool.

You can test if you’re breathing properly the next time you’re out running at a pace that is challenging. Stop and place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest. If you’re breathing correctly, your belly should go up and down like a balloon being inflated and then deflated, while your chest should move less.

Breathing with your belly is something you should practice in everyday life as well. You can try yoga, where focusing on your breathing is part of the practice (and it’s good for your body in many other ways as well). Doing deep breathing exercises will strengthen your diaphragm.

Get your posture in check

Running is not just about your lower body. If your shoulders and chest are tense, it’s harder for you to breathe deeply. Loosen your upper body before you go running by doing some dynamic stretching like arm circles and arm crossovers.

Make sure you don’t hunch over, and keep your core engaged.

Breathe with your mouth

Another quite simple change is to start breathing through your mouth. Your mouth is larger than your nostrils, and can therefore take in more air. I think most people do this naturally.

However, beware of insects. If you like me sometimes run in the evening near a lake , you might get a bonus snack 😉

A cute breathing technique

I think this way of keeping your breathing under control is very sweet. What you have to do is sing the alphabet (in your head, out loud would take too much of an effort – unless you’re really badass).

  • When the song goes up (A – B – C – D), you inhale
  • When the song goes down (E – F – G), you exhale.
Running tips - Don't forget to breathe

Another way of doing it is paying attention to your feet. For every 3-4 steps you either inhale or exhale, and find a rhythm that way.

Consult a doctor when in doubt

Having a little bit of trouble breathing is not uncommon, but if you have actual problems breathing or start wheezing, it’s best to consult your doctor. Exercise-induced asthma or just asthma and allergies can make it very hard for you to breathe, and you should never exercise if it makes you feel downright uncomfortable. Always be safe!

Do you pay attention to how you breathe when you run? Let me know in the comments!

Gif that says lots of love, Anne xx

Since you made it to the end, you may as well follow me on Instagram – but their algorithm is a bit of a mystery, so you can sign up to the newsletter to not miss out on the best posts! ✨

Running Tips: Don\'t Forget to BreatheRunning Tips: Don\'t Forget to Breathe
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  1. says: Dj

    Its nice to know that I am breathing correctly through my mouth. I think I have corrected my posture somehow by practicing yoga.

  2. says: Nathan

    I haven’t been running for very long (I’m 50 now) but I have always had issues getting better than a certain point (never can quite make the 5Km run in less than 30 mins but CAN run further slower). My legs wanted to go further but I am so out of breath and that has ALWAYS been because I “forget” to breathe. I am injured at the moment but have started the belly breathing exercises and pattern breathing even when walking around – it seems to be making a difference already – so, thanks for your advice on this – I can’t wait to get going again.

  3. says: Anonymous

    I’m asthmatic and this breathing technique is what makes it possible for me to run. I felt like giving up running once when I had yet another asthma attack, but luckily another runner in the park came over to check if I was okay and she was also an asthmatic. She told me about this breathing technique, i tried it in my next run and now i do this all the time, it has actually really helped 🙂

  4. says: Ariel

    Another great way to breathe, its when you place your left feet on the ground. During low intensity runs, inhale when you place it, and exhale after two-three steps. During high intensity tuns, inhale when you place it, and exhale when you place it the next step with that feet.

  5. says: Kate

    Oh Anne I loved this post so much! You had me giggling to myself the whole way through, and it was so informative as well! I’m definitely going to check if I’m breathing properly next time I go for a run! I hope your injury clears up super quick as well 🙂 xx

  6. says: Krystal

    I get really stuffed up when I run which make’s it near impossible to breathe, someone told me to drink some cough syrup before hand and that actually helped.

  7. says: Lexes

    I was a state 4×100 and 4×200 runner and I held my breath for the entire duration of my runs and would collapse and get light-headed. My coaches tried getting me to breathe, but then I wouldn’t run as fast haha! But breathing is definitely important when running… and for life in general 😉 Ha!

  8. says: Mira

    Thank you for sharing these tips, I always pay attention to my breathing when running but I sometimes struggle with it – I’ll definitely use your advice for my next morning jog! xx

  9. says: Cah

    What a fitness instructor once told me was: when running, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Besides, you should always breathe in a calm manner.
    I really like your tips, I’ll give them a shot 🙂

    1. says: Anne

      I think up until a point it’s good to breathe through your nose (people are usually better at taking deep breaths). But at some point (a high % VO2max) it gets impossible to get enough oxygen that way.
      Thank you! 🙂

  10. says: Sana

    I struggle with ALL OF those things! Also, I heard that it’s awful to double up on sports bras. They totally mess up your breathing. I used to run with 2 bras for years before I splurged on a supportive one!

    1. says: Anne

      Yeah, like I know it’s 100% no go to workout with “waist trainer” or corsettes because they can restrict your breathing – I can imagine doubling up on sports bras can have the same effect!

  11. says: Madara

    Great post, thank you! 🙂 You really good explained why we start to lack breath when doing excercises, loved that. 🙂 (even though I had tp know that already, aka Biology Bsc. :D, anyway… )
    Ok, time for workout! hehe! (not running though. Yet. 😉 )