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Running & Breathing Techniques

by Patrick Hutchison

Everyone knows that running will make you breathe hard, but few realize just how important your breathing technique is. The way you breathe can have significant impacts on your running performance, giving you the edge on other runners or causing you to fall behind. Consider practicing some proven breathing techniques the next time you train.


When running, your body requires oxygen to help create energy for your working muscles through the use of ATP or adenosine triphosphate. ATP is required to maintain the chemical functions that keep you running. If you cannot supply the necessary oxygen, your muscles will tire faster and your endurance will severely diminish. Providing ample supplies of oxygen while breathing will ensure that your body can continue working hard. The result is increased endurance, speed and energy.

3:2 Technique

The most common breathing technique for running is often referred to as the 3:2 technique. This basically means that the ratio of inhaling to exhaling is 3 to 2. In practice, this is often tied to your running cadence. For example, while you are running, inhale for three steps and then exhale for two steps. The purpose behind this technique is to fully inflate your lungs with new oxygen and completely replace the leftover carbon dioxide.

2:1 Technique

While the 3:2 ratio is good for most runners and joggers, it can become hard to use when sprinting. If the 3:2 ratio does not work for you, consider the 2:1 ratio. In practice this would mean that you would inhale twice as long as you exhale. In practice, this might mean inhaling for two steps and exhaling for one. However, with faster running, it might involve inhaling for 4 steps and exhaling for 2. What is important is that the ratio of 2 to 1 is kept constant.


Always breathe through your nose and your mouth when running. It is far easier to get adequate supplies of air through the use of both nose and mouth, than just through your nose. Consider breathing techniques for before and after you run as well. Proper breathing can help prepare you mentally and physically for a race by building up oxygen supplies and helping you relax. Breathe deeply, holding air in for a moment before exhaling to allow for maximum oxygen absorption by the blood.

Photo Credits:

  • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.