Running is a fantastic way to stay fit and healthy, but it can often leave us breathless, making it hard to carry on. While it’s true that running is a physically demanding exercise, controlling your breath can make all the difference in how enjoyable and sustainable your runs are.

Why is breathing important?

Breathing provides us with the necessary oxygen our muscles need to function correctly. The oxygen that enters our lungs is then transported to our cells, where it is broken down and converted into energy. Without oxygen, our muscles can become fatigued, leading to a decrease in performance and potentially causing us to stop altogether.

How should I breathe when running?

Most professionals recommend taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths, also known as belly breathing. When you belly breathe, you are utilizing your diaphragm, which is a muscle located under your lungs that helps control your breathing. Breathing with your diaphragm creates a more substantial inhalation, allowing for more oxygen to enter the lungs and more carbon dioxide to exit during exhalation.

Breathing Rhythm

It’s recommended to create a breathing rhythm that matches your footfalls. Typically, inhaling and exhaling for a count of two is a good place to start. You should breathe in for two steps and breathe out for two steps. This rhythm helps maintain a steady flow of oxygen to your body while preventing you from becoming winded.

How to improve breathing while running?

There are several techniques you can use to improve your breathing while running. One of the most effective methods is to practice breathing exercises when you’re not running. Deep breathing exercises, such as Yoga or Pilates, are great for building diaphragm strength and improving breathing control. These practices may also help reduce stress levels, which can lead to shallow breathing.

Breathing while running uphill

Running uphill can be challenging, and it’s easy to find yourself breathing rapidly and shallowly. When running uphill, it’s essential to maintain the same breathing rhythm as on level ground but to reduce your pace. Slowing down allows you to conserve energy and prevent your muscles from working too hard too quickly.

Breathing while running downhill

While it may seem counterintuitive, breathing while running downhill can be just as challenging as running uphill. When running downhill, it’s crucial to focus on your breath to prevent rapid, shallow breathing. You should aim to breathe deeply and maintain a consistent breathing rhythm, allowing you to maintain control over your body and prevent fatigue.


Breathing is a vital aspect of running, and controlling it can have a significant impact on your performance. By practicing deep breathing exercises, maintaining a consistent breathing rhythm, and adjusting your breathing for uphill and downhill running, you can improve your breathing while running and make your runs more enjoyable and sustainable. Remember, breathing is essential for keeping your muscles energized, so don’t underestimate the power of good breathing techniques.