Running and Breathing

Jan 6, 2020

I receive a lot of questions about breathing from new and experienced runners. Here are some tips and techniques to prevent you from huffing and puffing during your runs. They do take practice so be patient and consciously focus on breathing on every run or at least part of every run – once it becomes a habit, it sticks and becomes so much easier!

1. Take big, slow, deep breaths to get as much oxygen in as possible – this will help your muscles from fatiguing quickly.

2. Use rhythmic breathing -breathing with a pattern can help you run faster and longer. Having a set breathing pattern puts you in tune with how hard you’re working. A 2:2 breathing pattern ratio means you’re always exhaling and inhaling every time you land, so breathe in for two steps and out for two. For beginners, a 3:3 or 4:4 pattern might be more comfortable.

3. When you breathe, concentrate on your stomach. Expand and contract it as your diaphragm takes in the air and your lungs release it. This will make you a more efficient runner.

Here is an exercise to practice “belly-breathing”:

  • Lie on the floor and place your hands on your stomach
  • Breathe in and out deeply – you will see your hands rise (when you breathe in) and fall (when you breathe out)
  • When you breathe out, focus on exhaling as much air as possible

Do this 3-5 times a week and focus on this on your runs. It will feel easier and more natural the more you practice.

Belly breathing


Christine Prokopiak

Christine is a running coach and nutrition specialist based with Sole Buddies #LiveLife in Cape Town. She is also the co-anchor for the GerhardandChristineLiveLife podcast, and co-founder of For The Long Run, a social upliftment project and registered NPO in Fisantekraal. Read more about Sole Buddies here. 


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