Looking to learn how to breathe better when running? Then you’re in the right place.
Breathing is unconscious and automatic, just like blinking your eyes—not something you usually think about.
That said, here is the little kicker.
Although breathing is a basic human function, not every runner breathes effectively, especially beginner trainees.
In fact, when it comes to running, the art of respiration is a bit more complicated than we think.
But fret no more. Today I got you covered. In this post, I’ll share with you the few essentials for improving your breathing when running.
So, are you excited?
Then here we go.
4 Essential Breathing Tips for New Runners
1. Slow Down
If you’re a beginner runner and find yourself getting out of breath, it’s usually a sign that you’re out of shape. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with your technique or lungs.
When it’s the case, all you need to do is to gradually run more over time, build your stamina, and make exercise a part of your lifestyle.
Over time, the constantly out-of-breath feeling will eventually subside.
That said, how fast you get there will depend on your training—specifically, your pace.
Enter The Right Pace
Early on, stick to the conversational pace—a pace in which you can hold a conversation, or recite the pledge of allegiance, without panting for air.
In fact, as a newcomer to running, most of your runs should be performed at this conversational and relaxed pace.
If you find it hard to talk, then you’re pushing it too hard. Slow down and get your pace under control.
By controlling your exercise intensity, you’ll be able to regulate the rate at which you breathe. That’s the best thing you can do as a beginner runner to have some sense of control over your breathing rate.
2. Synchronized Breathing
Once you’re past the beginner stage—two to three months of training— practice synchronizing your breathing to your cadence. This means breathing rhythmically by timing your breaths to your foot strikes.
Sure, at first glance, rhythmic breathing seems like a lot of work, but it’s worth the investment as it can help you run longer and faster.
Finding The Ideal Breathing Ratio
Most experts recommend the 3:2 for beginner runners. This means that you inhale on the RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT foot strikes, then exhale fully on the LEFT, RIGHT foot strikes.
This might seem labor-intensive, but practice conquers all. Just remember to slow your pace down for a few weeks to master the technique.
Over time, try a 2:2 or 2:1 ratio, especially for faster training sessions, such as interval training or tempo running.
That said, for full speed—think the final burst at the end of a race—a 1:1 ratio is the way to go.
3. Deep Breathing
Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, taking deep breaths is essential regardless of training intensity and breathing rhythm.
In fact, as a runner, deep breathing is one of the most important skills to learn.
Here is what it is all about:
Deep breathing, in essence, engages the entire capacity of the lungs, increasing the length of time you breathe in and breathe out.
This contrasts drastically with the quick and shallow chest breaths we do while at rest.
Taking deep breaths has a lot to offer. It helps your muscles stay relaxed, boost oxygenation, and reduce fatigue—all of which are crucial for efficient training.
As a result, every a couple of minutes during a run, take a few conscious and larger than normal breaths, then exhale fully through the mouth.
To make sure you’re doing right, you should be able to feel the movement of your rib cage and belly sideways and forward.
Check this awesome YouTube tutorial on how to practice deep breathing in the comfort of your home.
4. Nose and Mouth
Most people naturally breathe nasally at rest. But when it comes to running, what occurs naturally at rest isn’t always what’s most efficient.
As a matter of fact, once training intensity increases, oxygen needs will follow suit.
As this happens, you’ll soon find that you can no longer take in enough oxygen by solely breathing through your nose. In fact, once nasal breathing rate exceeds two to three times resting breathing rate, you’ll naturally switch to mouth breathing.
As a result, to ensure maximum oxygen intake, you’d want to inhale through the nose AND mouth. In fact, efficient breathing should be a combination of the two.
By using both pathways, you’ll deliver maximum oxygen to your body. And the more oxygen you can provide it, the better you’ll perform.
Just don’t get bogged down by details.
Over time, and with consistent practice, you’ll find a breathing technique that works the best for you.