Just breathe! Sounds simple, right? But, as any runner––beginner or pro––knows, it’s easier said than done. So, what is the best way to breathe while running? We are going to find out.

Let’s talk chemistry!

Your body needs that O2––it’s an essential element that fuels our very being. When you run, your body requires even more oxygen than normal, and making sure it has enough is vital to keeping on the move.

Your breathing to energy process looks a little like this:

C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O + 2880 kJ/mol

But if you, like us, are not so fluent in organic reactions, we can break it down for you.

Running is an aerobic exercise––your body uses oxygen to produce a particular type of fuel called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP for short. And it is this precious substance that keeps the body in motion.

But how to get enough to make the equation match?

Breath in deeply

girl after a run

If you think “any way” is the proper way to breathe while running you’d be wrong! While breathing is a natural part of life––we do it passively all the time––we don’t have to think about it and this often means we are lazy when it comes to doing things properly.

To keep things going when you run, you need to develop the correct breathing techniques for runners and use them to capacity––and that means diaphragmatic breathing.

Also known as deep belly breathing, the diaphragmatic technique allows you to optimize your oxygen levels by filling your lungs to capacity.

But, before you hit the streets, we’re heading back to basics with what is the best way to breathe while running.

*Note: This breathing technique works great for meditation too.

  1. Make yourself comfortable, and lie flat on your back. Place one hand on your stomach, the other on your chest to feel your breaths.
  2. Slowly breathe in through your nose, as you do you’ll feel your stomach rise, but your chest should remain flat.
  3. Next, exhale and breath out through your mouth. Your stomach will fall, but your chest should only move slightly with the outgoing breath.

It might take you a few tries to get it right, but once you do it’ll be worth it.

Taking it for a test run

a city run

Now you’re a master of how to breathe when you run, it’s time to take it to the streets for a test run.

So, lace up those running shoes and let’s get moving.

  1. As you start to run, everything is feeling great, but after a few moments you notice your breath is starting to strain. This is your aerobic processes kicking in, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to engage your breathing techniques for runners.
  2. Feel your rhythm. As you move, take a breath in and feel your stomach expand and your lungs fill with oxygen.
  3. Hold for a brief moment, and release, breathing out through your mouth.
  4. This is not a one-trick pony, optimize your run by keeping your breathing consistent.
  5. After all, a little celebration won’t hurt.

Fact or Fiction. What difference does breathing make?

So, you want to correct your breathing while running? First, let’s get a few things straight:

Myth – Breathing in through your nose is better than with your mouth.

The ultimate goal here is oxygen consumption, so logic dictates that your mouth is a better solution than with your nose. BUT, and it’s a big but, breathing through your mouth can cause you to take shallower breaths, so better get some practice in.

Fact – Breathing through your nose filters your breath.

Whilst oxygen intake is key, your nose has filters that sift through the air coming in and remove some of the most harmful particles. It also helps to avoid the unpleasant dryness of that comes from breathing through your mouth.

Myth – “I get out of breath easily, I shouldn’t run”

Unless you have a genuine medical condition, running can actually be great for training your breathing and making your body stronger. By following our breathing during running tips, you can improve your lung capacity and feel better.

Written by Maria Isabella Neverovich
Maria is an Irish writer, Health Editor at Verv, lover of forests, mountains and all things nature. She enjoys discovering new vegetarian dishes, creating...
View all articles