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Techniques for Proper Breathing While Running

It's important to learn how to breathe properly while running because breathing efficiently during runs helps improve athletic performance, according to the American Council on Exercise. There are several different breathing strategies that can help your body get plenty of oxygen while running.

outdoor runners 2.jpgTry 2:1 Strides Per Breath Ratio


While there is no set technique that fits all runners, many runners prefer a 2:1 stride/breath ratio, according to a review published in 2013 in PLOS One. More specifically, authors of this review note that many runners prefer to take two running steps for each breath they take during workouts. However, while this 2:1 breathing technique is often the preferred strategy of many successful runners, you don't have to adopt this breathing method to be an effective runner.

Find Your Own Rhythm

Not everyone is comfortable using a 2:1 stride/breath ratio, so finding what works best for you is what counts. The review published in 2013 in PLOS One reports that some runners prefer stride/breathe ratios of 2.5:1, 3:1, 4:1 or no stride/breathe coupling at all. Finding your own breathing rhythm based on experience and fitness level will help you maximize your running performance. For some runners, not using a stride/breath ratio at all helps them relax and enjoy their workouts.

Use the Talk Test Strategy

If you find it difficult or distracting to time your breaths with running strides, a simple talk test will help determine if your running intensity matches your training goals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that if you can comfortably talk during your running workouts, but not sing, you're performing at a moderate intensity, which is often appropriate for longer endurance runs. If you can't say more than a few words without pausing to breathe, your running intensity is vigorous, the CDC notes, which is appropriate if you're running at a rapid pace for shorter periods of time or sprinting during interval workouts.

Check Your Heart Rate

To ensure your body gets plenty of oxygen and you don't overdo it, check your heart rate during and after exercise. If you're having a hard time catching your breath during or immediately after your runs, your workout intensity may be too high. Your body's maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA notes that moderate-intensity exercise is when you work out at 50 to 69 percent of your maximum heart rate, and vigorous-intensity exercise boosts your heart rate up to 70 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate.

For example, if you're 20 years old your maximum heart rate is about 200 beats per minute. Fifty percent of your maximum heart rate is 100 beats per minute, and 90 percent of your maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute.

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An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and J

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