I started jogging/sprinting recently to get my fitness back and increase my stamina. I find that I tire very soon. As in, though my legs are OK to run, I am out of breath far too easily.

I wanted to know if there is any breathing pattern to be followed which will help me conserve my breath so that I don't start panting too soon.


4 Answers 4


There are two interesting physiological markers for exertion that can be very helpful.

When you start hearing yourself breathe (likely what you call panting, but probably a bit earlier) you have passed about 60% Heart Rate.

This is useful, since you want to be running harder than 60%.

When you can no longer talk, you are closer to 85% which is needed for harder workouts, but on longer slow runs, you want to avoid.

So it is possible, if you are just getting started, and finding that breathing is consuming you, that it is a matter of taking it a bit easier, until you get your base fitness built and are more efficient.

It does take some time, and the best way to get there faster is just keep running.

  • Thanks for the answer. I was wondering if taking deeper breaths would help me conserve my Heart Rate or if taking quicker shorter breaths is better for a longer run. Wanted to know if the breathing pattern matters or if it is a totally irrelevant co-relation. Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 12:58

As a novice runner myself, I've struggled with this one too. I've never been able to talk whilst I run and I don't think I ever will. I'm just not a born runner.

The pattern that works for me is to breathe out for three steps and breathe in for two. I have found that works for slower, distance runs (say 9 - 9.5km an hour, 10k +)

Faster runs demand a two for two pattern (breathe out for two steps, breathe in for two steps).

Starting slowly is a good way to find a pattern that works for you.

  • I normally follow the two-for-two pattern and my normal speed when I start is 12-13kms/hr. I also run out of breath just after 2kms. Guess I am starting with a speed too fast?
    – Aman Alam
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 12:49

I suffered the same when I first started with running. Inhaling and exhaling also takes energy, so you want to control it. I was told to train that by holding my breath for one more step than what my untrained breathing was asking me to.

This is probably not something to do during a whole session, but to dedicate some minutes to it, as for other elements of running technique. At least, it worked for me.


During long runs and slow jogs, I inhale for 3 steps and exhale for 2. For sprinting, it's 2:1.

When you exhale, your body's muscles relax and are more prone to injury, so alternating which side you exhale on decreases the imbalance.

  • 1
    Do you have links for your claim that relaxed muscles are more prone to injury? What exactly gets "imbalanced" when exhaling over three steps?
    – JohnP
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 17:26
  • According to this article, exhaling on the same side puts constant stress on that one side, thus making it more prone to injury. Although I remember reading about the muscle relaxation part somewhere, I can't find the link. Admittedly, I probably should have checked before posting that answer. Commented May 10, 2014 at 21:45
  • The study that Coates cites (Coincidentally as part of his, you guessed it, book on how to run), is talking about running and breathing in mammals. Almost all of their (Bramble and Davis) studies concern quadrapeds, and flying animals, not upright runners such as humans. They also suggest that most humans naturally adopt an odd breathing pattern (At least in the 1983 abstract I could find), but Coates took a small snippet from a 1983 study on which to base his book.
    – JohnP
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 0:35

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