How To Breathe While Running Long Distance

When it comes to running long distances, one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked is proper breathing technique. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way through my own experiences as a long-distance runner. In this article, I’m going to share with you some valuable insights and tips on how to breathe effectively while running long distances.

The Importance of Proper Breathing

Breathing correctly while running is vital for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures that your muscles receive an adequate supply of oxygen, which is essential for optimal performance. Proper breathing also helps to prevent side stitches, reduce muscle fatigue, and improve overall endurance.

Now, let’s dive deep into the details of how to breathe while running long distances:

1. Find Your Rhythm

Establishing a rhythmical breathing pattern is key. Many runners find the “2:2” or “3:3” method effective. In this method, you inhale for two or three steps and exhale for the same number of steps. Experiment with different patterns and find what works best for you.

2. Breathe Through Your Mouth

While it may seem counterintuitive, breathing through your mouth is more efficient during intense exercise. It allows for a greater intake of oxygen compared to breathing solely through your nose. So, when you’re running, make sure to keep your mouth slightly open to facilitate easy and unrestricted airflow.

3. Belly Breathing

A common mistake many runners make is shallow chest breathing. Instead, try to practice diaphragmatic or belly breathing. This involves breathing deeply into your belly, allowing your lungs to fully expand and contract. Not only does belly breathing maximize oxygen intake, but it also helps to relax your upper body and reduce tension.

4. Exhale Completely

When you exhale, aim to release all the stale air from your lungs. This will create space for fresh oxygen during the inhalation phase. A forceful exhale can also help strengthen your core muscles and provide extra power during each stride.

5. Use a Cadence System

Syncing your breathing with your running cadence can help establish a steady rhythm. For example, you can try inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two steps (2:2 pattern) or inhaling for three steps and exhaling for two steps (3:2 pattern). Experiment with different cadence systems and find the one that suits your running style.

6. Relax Your Upper Body

Tension in your upper body can restrict your breathing and waste precious energy. Pay attention to your shoulders, neck, and jaw while running. Keep them relaxed and avoid unnecessary tension. This will allow for easier breathing and help you maintain an efficient running form.

7. Practice Breathing Techniques Off the Track

Improving your breathing technique doesn’t just happen while running. You can practice breathing exercises off the track to strengthen your respiratory muscles and develop better control over your breathing. Techniques like diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing can be beneficial.


Mastering the art of proper breathing while running long distances is a game-changer. It can improve your endurance, performance, and overall enjoyment of the sport. Remember to find your rhythm, breathe through your mouth, practice belly breathing, exhale completely, use a cadence system, relax your upper body, and practice breathing techniques off the track.

Next time you hit the pavement for a long-distance run, pay attention to your breathing and make these techniques a part of your routine. Trust me, you’ll notice a significant difference in your running experience.