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How Should I Breathe When Running?


Updated May 16, 2014

Runners Warming Up Before Race
Chris Leschinsky

Question: How Should I Breathe When Running?

"I've heard that I should breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth when I run. Is that correct?"

Answer: You should breathe through both your mouth and nose when you're running. Your muscles need oxygen to keep moving and your nose alone simply can't deliver enough. You need mouth breathing to take in more oxygen.

Make sure you're breathing more from your diaphragm, or belly, not from your chest -- that's too shallow. Deep belly breathing allows you to take in more air, which can also help prevent side stitches.

You should exhale through your mouth and try to focus on exhaling fully, which will remove more carbon dioxide and also help you inhale more deeply.

Here are a few more tips for breathing while running:

  • Try to take three footstrikes for every inhale, and two footstrikes for every exhale.
  • As a beginner, try to run at a pace at which you can breathe easily. Use the "talk test" to figure out if your pace is appropriate. You should be able to speak in full sentences, without gasping for air. This is also known as "conversational pace".
  • Slow down or walk if you're running out of breath. If you relax and slow the pace, breathing problems often take care of themselves. Don't overthink it!
More FAQs for Beginner Runners: Also see: Absolute Beginners' Guide to Running
Video: Don'ts for Breathing When Running


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