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How to Breathe when Running

by | In Depth Articles

The question of ‘how to breathe when running’ is one that many runners find themselves pondering, especially those new to running or starting to experiment with more intense sessions like sprint or hill intervals. Should we breathe through the mouth or nose? Is there a particular rhythm or technique we should be using? Let’s take a look…

Mouth or Nose?
Whilst running, you ultimately want to use a system of breathing that allows your body to achieve maximum oxygen uptake every inspiration and maximum carbon dioxide expulsion every exhalation, especially at elevated intensity. The mouth by its sheer size can transfer far more air than the nostrils, so that pretty much ends any argument.

That said, there are benefits for using the nostrils as well as the mouth, i.e. co-breathing; the hairs of the nostrils can certainly help filter pollutants & pathogens, and at lower paced runs use of the nose can help ensure you are giving the body enough time to use the oxygen it has inhaled. However, once you reach a certain intensity you will need the mouth to provide sufficient oxygen. It would seem that for most runners, co-breathing would therefore seem to be the best bet.

Breathing Rhythm
A quick search on Google for ‘how to breathe when running’ brings up much talk on ‘breathing rhythms’, i.e. how many steps you should take during the inhalation compared to how many you take during the exhalation. Though this may sound like way too much focus on what at the end of day should happen naturally (more on that later on), for runners struggling with breathlessness taking a look at such rhythms can often help.

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