Posted by: jay | 2004/11/02

Breathing while running

I started running 2 weeks ago for weightloss and health reasons. I have the problem that when I run I gasp for air although I am not even sweating yet. Surely this is not normal. Is this because I am not fit or am I breathing incorrectly.

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Our expert says:
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Hi Jay

Correct breathing during runnin g is a problem for many people, as you gather from the forum responses. I know from personal experience that your problem is most likely due to being unfit and also not used to the breathing pattern. I know people who have seen doctors about it, worried that they have asthma only to be told that they are just unfit for running. So, I suspect that in about 2 or 3 months, when you do get fitter, you will look back and wonder what the fuss was about! That said, there is still a chance that you have asthma, though I doubt that you would not have noticed it before now. So, if you regularly suffer from being out of breath, then maybe it is worth looking into, but I think that over time you will find that the problem goes away.

So, as for correct technique, there is not really a wrong way to breathe, you just have to breathe naturally. What I do suggest is that you slow down if you are really out of it, and then slow the breathing, taking deep breaths, rather than short shallow breaths. That is one thing that does contribute to being out of breath.

Other than this, just be patient, don't overdo it now and you will reap the benefits later.

Good luck

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Our users say:
Posted by: M | 2004/11/24

Hi Jay. I started running this year after years on inactivity and also found my breathing to be a problem. I read the "in through the nose, out thru the mouth" rule, but found that it wasnt working for me. Then someone recommended breathing in thru the nose and mouth, then exhaling thru the mouth. this did the trick for me. also rhythm of breathing is important. For me inhaling for 2 strides then exhaling for 2 strides works best, but it really depends on your fitness.

Reply to M
Posted by: Rob | 2004/11/06

Coming from a long line of distance runners, the first tip I was given was to take control of my breathing. If you don't, you r body thinks it's under attack and gulps frantically. From your very first strides, meter your breathing to your stride. As an example: Breathe in three strides - breathe out three strides. Experiment until you find you comfort zone, but go for longer intervals rather than shorter. After a while it becomes sub conscious and you should be going like a train.

Good luck and enjoy it. The sense of personal achievement is the best thing in the world.

Reply to Rob
Posted by: row | 2004/11/04

i think it's completely normal and simply because you are not fit.
when i started running as a 33 yr old ex-smoker who hadn't exercised since school i would be gasping and spluttering almost from the start of the run.
take it easy, it's only been two weeks. you have to take a long term view and start slow with gradual increases or you may hurt yourself. picture yourself making slow but unstoppable progress. don't run so far that you are completely out of breath and unable to speak. try running slower, and maybe have intervals of walking to break up your run.
if you are patient and get through the injury-prone beginning stages, you will soon start to build up some fitness (and lose weight et cetera) and grow to really love running, it doesn't have to be a struggle. if you are impatient and can only accept instant results, you will probably fail.
good luck, take it easy.

Reply to row
Posted by: lisa | 2004/11/03


I am not sure if this is right but I was told this by a provincial athlete while I was still at school, Ive used this technique ever since and have had less stiches and breathing problems.

You need to breathe in your nose and out your mouth. Although it feels as though you get less air through your nose this is actually incorrect,you breathe better through your nose. After a little while you will get the hang of it

Reply to lisa

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