A woman wearing exercise gear and a headband breathing out in the snow

Breathing while Running

The Question

This question is from Harry, who wants to know about breathing techniques:


“I've heard that when running you should breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Is there any truth in this?”

Our Coach's Answer

Simon - running coach
Simon Loughran - Middle-distance runner and UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and Athletics Coach

“No. When you're running just get air into your lungs by any means possible. At faster speeds you simply won't be able to obtain sufficient oxygen through nose-breathing alone.

There are some exceptions when nose-breathing might be useful:

  • When trying to limit pace. E.g. during a recovery run when you want to limit the intensity. If you find you need to start mouth-breathing then you know you need to slow down.
  • When running through polluted air. E.g. past a fire in someone's garden. The nose does a good job of filtering the air and helps protect the lungs.
  • You see a clubmate and want to look as though you're not trying too hard.

So, if another runner calls you a mouth breather, you can take it as a compliment. Probably.”

Our Member's Answer

Nick agrees with us:

Nick - mouth breather

“My sports teacher used to tell us this. Complete rubbish! Your body will let you know how you need to breathe and that's usually through your mouth.”

Thanks, Nick. That's another emphatic vote for the mouth!

More questions »