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Breathing Techniques

Breathing Techniques
Breathing Techniques

1. Focus on Diaphragmatic Breathing:

Breathing techniques. Diaphragmatic breathing involves engaging the diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle located below the lungs. This type of breathing allows for deeper inhalation and therefore more efficient oxygen exchange.

Practice diaphragmatic breathing by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale deeply, expanding your abdomen, and exhale fully. This technique helps optimise oxygen intake and reduces shallow chest breathing.

2. Find Your Rhythm:

Establishing a rhythmic breathing pattern synchronises your running stride with your breath, promoting efficiency and reducing fatigue. Match your inhalations and exhalations with your steps. For example, inhale for two or three steps, then exhale for the same number.

Experiment with different patterns to find what feels most comfortable for your pace and intensity.

3. Nasal Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing:

Both nasal and mouth breathing have their benefits during running. Nasal breathing filters and humidifies the air, potentially reducing the risk of respiratory issues. However, during intense efforts, incorporating controlled mouth breathing can increase oxygen intake.

Practice a combination based on your running pace – nasal breathing for slower runs and a mix of nasal and mouth breathing for higher-intensity efforts.

4. Controlled Breathing Technique For Pace Regulation:

Controlled breathing serves as a natural way to regulate your pace. By intentionally controlling your breath, you can manage exertion levels and prevent overexertion.

Experiment with different breathing patterns during training to identify how altering your breath impacts your perceived effort and overall running performance.

5. Breathe Through Discomfort:

It’s crucial to maintain controlled breathing even when faced with physical discomfort or fatigue. During challenging moments, consciously focus on your breath, ensuring it remains steady and controlled.

This mental aspect of breathing can help you push through difficult stretches and maintain overall composure during a run.

6. Incorporate Deep Belly Breaths:

Periodically incorporate deep belly breaths into your running routine. Slow down your pace or walk briefly, taking a few deep breaths to reset and refocus.

This practice helps release tension, improves oxygenation, and allows you to tackle the next segment of your run with renewed energy

7. Practice Breath Awareness:

Develop mindfulness regarding your breath during runs. Regularly check-in on your breathing, ensuring it aligns with your pace and effort.

Heightened breath awareness allows you to make real-time adjustments, preventing shallow breathing and promoting a more relaxed and sustainable running experience.

8. Warm-Up Breathing Exercises:

Before starting your run, engage in specific breathing exercises to prepare your respiratory system. This may include deep diaphragmatic breaths, alternate nostril breathing, or other yogic breathing techniques.

These exercises help optimise lung function and mentally prepare you for the run ahead

9. Breathing Drills During Training:

Integrate breathing drills into your training routine to enhance respiratory strength and endurance. For instance, dedicate a portion of your run to specific breathing exercises, such as breath holds or exhaling forcefully.

These drills can improve your lung capacity and overall respiratory efficiency.

10. Relax Your Upper Body:

Tension in the upper body can restrict breathing and increase fatigue. Consciously relax your shoulders, neck, and facial muscles while running. This promotes better airflow and prevents unnecessary energy expenditure. Relaxing your upper body also contributes to overall running form and posture.

11. Adapt Breathing Techniques for Terrain and Conditions:

Adjust your breathing technique based on the terrain and environmental conditions. Steeper inclines may warrant deeper breaths, while downhill sections may allow for a more relaxed breathing pattern.

Be mindful of weather conditions, as cold or humid air can impact respiratory comfort.

12. Posture and Breathing Alignment:

Maintain proper posture during running to optimise breathing. Stand tall, keep your chest open, and avoid slouching. A well-aligned posture allows for optimal lung expansion and airflow.

Combining good posture with intentional breathing creates a synergistic effect, enhancing overall running efficiency.

13. Breathing Techniques for Intervals and Sprints:

Adjust your breathing techniques for high-intensity intervals and sprints. During these bursts of effort, controlled mouth breathing may be more effective in rapidly supplying oxygen.

Practice different breathing strategies during speed workouts to identify the approach that complements your sprinting style.

14. Cool Down Breathing Exercises:

After completing your run, dedicate time to cool down and practice specific breathing exercises. This aids in the transition from high-intensity running to a state of rest and recovery.

Deep breaths during the cool-down phase contribute to relaxation and facilitate the body’s recovery processes.


Mastering breathing techniques is a dynamic and personalised journey for runners. Experiment with various approaches during training to identify what works best for your body and running style.

Whether it’s diaphragmatic breathing, rhythmic patterns, or mindfulness practices, integrating these techniques will enhance your overall running experience, promoting endurance, efficiency, and a deeper connection between breath and stride.

Remember that consistent practice and awareness are key to refining your breathing techniques and unlocking your full running potential.

Further Reading

  1. Abi avatar

    This is really useful. I definitely need to concentrate on practising deeper breathing. Sometimes in a race I will feel myself wanting to breathe deeper but actually tending to breathe faster to ‘get the oxygen in’ — when in fact faster, of course, means shallower. I need to practise relaxing so the deeper element can happen more efficiently.

    1. nolimitruncoaching avatar

      Hi Abi, thanks for commenting! Definitely practice the ability to relax. Head high, looking forward, body upright, while keeping the shoulders relaxed, will allow you to get the air into the lungs and chest.

  2. Owen avatar

    A great article. If I am trying to push myself in a speed or tempo run session, I definitely find that diaphragmatic breathing makes a big difference. But, maybe it is because I am focussing on something other than my legs!

    1. nolimitruncoaching avatar

      Hi Owen. Many thanks for contributing. It absolutely could be the other focus! During a long training run, it can be helpful to try different things, breathing, cadence, focus on form etc. It all helps to improve us, but also can take our minds off what sometimes is either the mundane or the aches we feel!

  3. Duncan Russell avatar
    Duncan Russell

    I would be glad of any tips when running in cold weather. I’ll spare us all the details but my airways inevitably start to produce fluids that mess up my breathing. I’ve tried using a snood and sucking on boiled cough sweets with some temporary success on shorter runs but on a long run I still experience difficulty. Perhaps such things are simply a fact of life on long runs in cold weather?

    1. nolimitruncoaching avatar

      Hi Duncan. many thanks for taking the time to comment. I think such things are a fact of life, especially as in the uk we have seasons. In fact sometimes all seasons in one day! I think it is important to try to keep the nasal passages clear (by any means that are comfortable to you), but I do believe practicing some of these techniques, really focussing could be helpful in your bigger picture. Perhaps choose one technique at a time per run to try and see how you get on.

  4. David avatar

    Hi, great article. I struggle with breathing so I can try your tips. Thank you

    1. nolimitruncoaching avatar

      Hi David, thank you. Your comment is much appreciated.

I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to comment!

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