Running Technique – Breathing Struggles When Running

Over the past 3-4 years I’ve been working with a number of runners and one of the most common struggles are related to breathing patterns and rhythm. Every running has questions regarding this.

How should I breath when running?
Is there a rhythm?
How do I breath in through the nose if I can’t get enough oxygen in?
How do I keep the rhythm? I lose it after a while

In the 6 min video below I attempt to address all these questions and suggest several solutions. If you have a health condition that can be made worse through deep breathing or breathing exercises talk to your doctor before applying the ideas in this video.

The struggles identified:

– can’t take in enough oxygen through the nose
– can’t keep the same rhythm of breathing through the nose for a long time
– nose hurts when breathing through the nose in winter (because it’s cold)


Some of the solutions discussed in this video:


1. Correct breathing rhythm through the nose

To begin with I suggest the following rhythm:

2:2 – 2 in breathes, 2 out breaths
For practice and to increase lung capacity you can take it up to 10:10 and then down to 2:2.
Eventually you want a 2:3 pattern or 4:3 (breathing out one longer than in). This is because you want to avoid the first out breathe to fall on the same foot over and over again.


2. How to keep the rhythm through longer runs

Don’t worry if you lose the rhythm. Maybe after breathing 10 times on the nose you need to breathe a few time through the mouth. It’s not a problem and not written in stone. Then get back in the rhythm.


3. How to practice the rhythm until it becomes natural

If you want nose breathing to be natural you have to close your mouth throughout the day and breathe through your nose. You might feel you cannot get enough oxygen.

However, how do you expect to be efficient breathing through your nose if you breathe through your mouth when you walk, sleep and do housework.

Breathe through your nose, that’s why it’s there, for you to use it for breathing.


4. How to allow more oxygen to come in through the nose

Relax. This is the “trick”. Forcing air in by tension your nose and face will only restrict the flow. Relax your face, mouth, nose and nostrils and allow the air free passage through your nose.

When you need to breathe in through the mouth just do it and then go back to using the nose. Even if you have a problem with the nose (i.e. sinus) and it restricts the breathing relaxing your nose and face can’t harm, but only help.

As mentioned before, you cannot expect to take it enough oxygen through the nose, to be efficient, if you don’t use it.


5. Abdominal breathing

Efficient breathing doesn’t only mean breathing through your nose but also breathing into the stomach without lifting your shoulder.

For runners the shoulders and level of tension in them impacts their performance almost instantly. Watch the video on how to relax the shoulders.

Watch the video below as I give examples and talk about other aspects as well. If you wish to attend our dedicated running workshops email

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.