The Art of the Breath: How to improve your breathing during a run

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

By: Dr. Matt Silver, Physical Therapist, and Founder of Alpha Project Phyzio & Performance

If I’m being honest distance running is a little deceptive. It looks really easy, and for the most
part it is an easy sport to start. Buy a pair of shoes, get some running clothes, and you’re off.
The problem is….. it’s actually A LOT more complicated than that. One way in particular is how
to breathe.

For some of us his comes natural. We find our breath as we continue to run. For others,
breathing can be your limiting factor when distance running. Here are my top 3 tips you can do
to improve your breathing and hit the road or trail without issues.

Tip #1: Try breathing through your nose. This may be challenging for many runners, however,
nasal breathing filters the air, helps activate your diaphragm, and releases nitric oxide. This nitric
oxide travels down your airways, into your lungs, and dilates (opens) your blood vessels. This
allows more oxygen to reach more red blood cells and for more CO2 to release out of your blood
stream and into the lungs.

An easy way to start nasal breathing is nasal breathe when you’re not running. This can be when
you’re watching TV, cooking dinner, even sleeping. Training yourself to nasal breathe at rest is a
great first step in using your nose when running!

Tip #2: Add on CO2 Tolerance Training. This trainings goal is to help make your body more
efficient at using oxygen. Here’s how!

CO2 has an interesting effect on your bodies ability to use oxygen. Higher levels of CO2 actually
help Oxygen diffuse into your muscles and be used as energy. CO2 tolerance training helps train
your body to be more comfortable with larger amounts of CO2, which will help oxygen diffuse
off of red blood cells and into muscle cells. Examples of this include exhale for 8 seconds and
breathe in for 4 seconds. (This can be done running and not running.)

Tip #3: Perform the Double Breath. This is a not so commonly known technique that will help
keep your lungs inflated as you run.

As we run harder workouts and races our lungs tend to collapse on themselves. Essentially,
you’ll end up with less surface area of lung inflated. In order to keep your lungs inflated you can
implement what is called the double breath.

This is an inhale followed by a second shorter faster inhale before an exhale. Think inhale,
inhale, exhale, inhale inhale, exhale. This doesn’t mean you are inhaling for any longer of a
period of time. You’re simply turn your 1 second inhale into two inhales that also last 1 second.

Here’s a link to a video of me performing the Double Breath.

Hope this helps your running!

If you want to know more tips on how to optimize your breathing check out my new book Built
To Run. It’s the runners ultimate guide to running more efficiently and solving aches, pains, and
injuries! There’s actually an entire chapter dedicated to breathing. If interested you can click here
to check it out on our website. You can get Built To Run from Amazon however, you’ll miss out on a special gift from us!


Wednesday, May 8, 2024

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