How To Breathe When Running – Breathing Exercises And Techniques For Runners

I believe breathing techniques while running are one of the most important aspects and runners should learn how to breathe correctly. I coach on technique but knowing about correct breathing patterns while running makes the whole experience more enjoyable.

I work with a lot of clients who haven’t exercised in years, and they tell me they want to run but they cannot. Everyone can run. We were born to run. How you run, that is a different story. My clients usually experience breathing problems when running, knowing they are not related to any health conditions.

One of the reasons we experience breathing problems when running is because we haven’t found a breathing pattern to get the body, the lungs, the heart in a rhythm. We sometimes breathe faster, then slower, taking in more air, sometimes less and it’s confusing, and so we run out of breath.

To tackle breathing problems when running we must practice some basic diaphragmatic breathing exercises and learn basic breathing techniques for runners to focus on,


Let’s begin with the basic diaphragmatic breathing exercises:


Step 1. Make sure you breathe correctly, that means when you breathe in you make your stomach big, when you breathe out you pull your stomach in.

Step 2. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth

Step 3. The breathing exercise. Let’s take 4 seconds as count for breathing in, out and holds. You can adjust them to fit your level:


Linear breathing technique

I use this as a warm up for the others.

– BREATHE IN through your nose on a count of 4
– BREATHE OUT through your nose on a count of 4.
– Repeat


Triangle breathing technique

Imagine an equilateral triangle. It has 3 equal sides

– BREATHE IN through your nose on a count of 4.
– HOLD on a count of 4.
– BREATHE OUT through your nose on a count of 4.
– No hold after this one. Repeat


Adjust the in breathe, out breathe and holds according to your level. More advanced diaphragmatic breathing exercises are square, rectangle, therapeutic breathing. Contact me if you’d like to know more about them. Click here to contact me.

These breathing exercises should be practiced at rest, not while training. Practice these daily for a month. You will see improvements in your lung capacity after the first 1-2 weeks.


Breathing techniques for running are about rhythm.

Find the rhythm and you are on your way to solving your breathing problems when running.


There are mainly two breathing techniques for running efficiently:


1.    Two In – Two Out

This is a one of the breathing techniques for runners to begin with. It’s straight forward:

  • on Step One – Breathe In (as the foot lands)
  • on Step Two – Breathe In (as the foot lands)
  • on Step Three – Breathe Out (as the foot lands)
  • on Step Four – Breathe Out (as the foot lands)

Once you get comfortable with this style of breathing when running you can go to step 2 and keep this style from now on.


2.    Two In – Three Out

  • on Step One – Breathe In (as the foot lands)
  • on Step Two – Breathe In (as the foot lands)
  • on Step Three – Breathe Out (as the foot lands)
  • on Step Four – Breathe Out (as the foot lands)
  • on Step Five – Breathe Out (as the foot lands)

This style of breathing while running means that you will not stress one leg more than the other. On the first breathing technique the first out breath is on the same leg all the time. While with this type of breathing the first out breath lands on the other leg every time you breathe out. You will see when you practice both breathing techniques.


There you have it, 2 breathing exercises to increase lung capacity and 2 breathing techniques for runners to find the rhythm and run stronger and for longer. Remember to train yourself to breathe into the stomach and not into your lungs. Contact me if you need advice.

If you experience problems breathing when running but are unsure of the cause do talk to your GP. There care be other breathing problems.


Alexandra Merisoiu, The Body Engineer, is the Founder of The Merisoiu Technique - Institute Of Health And Human Movement and Dracula’s Retreat. She is also a qualified Low Back Pain Management and Prevention Exercise Instructor and REPS registered.

She specialises in working with runners, beginners and advanced, who want to run faster, further, with less effort and fewer injuries. This is done through natural movement fitness and running technique and mechanics drawn from the many disciplines Alexandra has studies throughout the years, including long distance running.

Since 1995 she has explored how the body and mind works. She has done this through using many different sporting techniques and working with a wide variety of highly respected coaches. Throughout her Martial Arts career she has achieved 3rd Dan Black Belt in Karate Shotokan, runs her own Karate club and is IJKA 2017 triple World Champion, 2016 WMO Martial Arts British National and European Champion. She still competes at an international level.

It is through these learnings, and drawing inspiration from respected natural movement names such as MovNat, IdoPortal and POSE Method of running among many others, that she has created The Merisoiu Technique and has established her own unique transformational programs that incorporate thousands of years of knowledge with Natural Human Movement.

Alexandra’s mission is to challenge the status quo of how to achieve the truly strong, fit and powerful body a runner needs to perform at their best level. This is done through building strong, lasting foundations in the natural outdoor environment; reducing the risk of injuries and educating people on the power of the fundamentals of natural human movement and running mechanics.

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