Last Updated: July 8th, 2022
How to breathe while running a 5K? Is it any different from the breathing techniques for running? To find out just read on…
How to breathe while running a 5K?
While running 5K it is best to breathe through your mouth and nose combined. You may start off with nose breathing but, after the first kilometer, transition to nose and mouth breathing. This will help you to take in maximum air as you will be using both lungs and diaphragm. Also, it will help to breathe out quickly as you are engaging more muscles both internally and externally.
While running 5K, breathing techniques matter. This will help you to run longer distances without getting out of breath.
However, if you are getting too winded after implementing the below techniques, then it may be your lungs don’t have a lot of breathing capacity. It may sound scary, but it is not.
If you are not used to running long distances or you are a beginner runner, then you have not used your lungs capacity in that way. So, although, it is perfect for your day-to-day breathing, it is not capable yet to support your running.
However, it is easy to increase the lungs’ capacity and you will be able to feel the difference within a couple of weeks. And to increase your lungs capacity, you have to practice the below pranayams.
Other than, increasing your lungs capacity, these pranayamas have a lot of other benefits as well, which we will discuss below…
But before that, let’s check out the different breathing techniques for running 5K.
Breathing Techniques for running 5K or 3 miles
There are different breathing techniques that you can use while running 5K or more than two miles. Some of them will work for one runner and the others may work for others. Before zero in on one of the techniques, try out the various types mentioned here and find out which you are most comfortable with.
Different breathing techniques for 5K running
- Diaphragm breathing
- Alternative diaphragm breathing for maximum lungs capacity
- Rhythmic breathing using your cadence
- Nose breathing
This is also called deep breathing. With all the hustle and bustle of life, we have forgotten to breathe deeply. It is easier to breathe through the lungs as the amount of energy spent by the body is less.
So, we generally settle for what is known as shallow breathing. However, if we are a bit more mindful, then we will be able to use deep breathing and it can change your running forever. Also, it may help you to warm up faster.
Deep breathing or diaphragm breathing steps:
- Start to inhale through your nose and concentrate first fill in your chest, then the upper belly, then the lower belly.
- Exhale through your mouth and focus on contacting the lower belly first, then the upper belly, and then the chest.
- Practice this 10 times, three sets.
You can combine this technique with rhythmic breathing to take full advantage of these two while running 5K.
However, when you are first implementing it for running, don’t try to do it on a full 5K and definitely not on the race day.
Instead, start to implement this in your shorter runs. Also, if needed slow down the run so that you will be able to focus more on your breathing.
Also Read: How To Run 2 miles in 12 minutes in 30 days?
Alternative diaphragm breathing for maximum lungs capacity
This is similar to the first one in a way that it also relies on activating and using the diaphragm. However, the technique is very different as it relies on maximizing the capacity of your lungs and expanding your chest to the fullest.
To implement this, you will have to be a bit more mindful at first as it is not as intuitive as the first technique. However, if you are a nose breather, then this technique can help you to maximize your breathing capacity when you are running a 5K.
Steps for alternative diaphragm breathing for maximum lungs capacity:
- Start to inhale through your nose and keep on expanding your chest.
- At the same time, start to contract your diaphragm and belly to maximize your chest expansion.
- Exhale through your nose or mouth and start expanding the belly first and then contracting the chest.
- Practice this 10 times for three sets.
As mentioned above, taking this slow will be the first thing that you should do. Rushing it to implement it for your 5K may not be ideal. Also, it could be detrimental to your 5K performance.
Rhythmic breathing using your cadence
This technique can transform your 5K or 3 mile running and can be excellent for utilizing your breath to move your forward.
Also, this will help you to be more mindful when you are running and is great for your overall running performance.
However, this technique has a lot of sub techniques and we will introduce them briefly here. We have already discussed them in another post and doesn’t make sense to repeat this information again.
The basic premise of this breathing technique is to tie your breathing with your cadence and follow a basic counting pattern for inhaling and exhaling.
Try out the different techniques mentioned below for the one which s most comfortable for you.
Steps for rhythmic breathing for 5K:
- Inhale for a certain number of steps using your nose, mouth, or nose-mouth combination.
- Exhale for a certain number of steps using your nose mouth, or nose-mouth combination.
You can combine this with any of the breathing techniques mentioned above. However, before combining the two, you should master one of the techniques then move on to the next one. Also, I feel that implementing rhythmic breathing first will be easier than implementing diaphragmatic breathing and then implementing the breathing pattern along with it.
- 3:2 – Inhale for 3 steps exhale for two steps.
- 2:2 – Inhale for 2 steps and exhale for two.
- 2:1 – Inhale for two steps and exhale for one.
- 1:1 – Inhale for one step and exhale for one step.
Based on the phase where you are at your 5K running you can combine these patterns for maximum performance. For example, during the last leg of 5K running, you can use a 1:1 breathing pattern for maximum speed.
This is exactly as it sounds. Breathing through your nose while running 5K. In this technique, you will be inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your nose.
This can help you to avoid dry throat and help you to utilize your energy a bit more efficiently. Also, you can combine this technique with any of the above methods to maximize your performance.
However, this doesn’t mean that you will have better stamina for 5K. To be honest, this may not provide you with a lot of boosts but nonetheless, this is one method to try if you want to have more skills in your arsenal for a 5K run.
Pranayama/Yoga breathing exercises for runners
Pranayama or Yoga/Yogic breathing are the best exercises for runners who want to increase their lungs capacity. This additional lungs capacity will come in handy when you run your 5K.
In yoga there are more than 7 types of pranayamas, however, for the purpose of your 5K, there is only a handful of them that can help you to breathe better and perform better.
3 Pranayama/Yoga breathing exercises for better 5K run
This is one of the easiest pranayamas to implement. It is perfect for beginners and you will be able to see and feel the difference in a couple of weeks.
- Sit in a comfortable position with a straight back. You can sit in sukhasana or in padmasana. If you have tightness in your hips or knees, go for sukhasana.
- Rest your left hand on your left knee with palms up and your index finger touching your thumb.
- Put your right hand’s index and middle finger at the gap between your eyebrows.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale deeply with your left nostril.
- Hold your breath.
- Close your left nostril with the third finger of your right hand and release the right nostril.
- Exhale through your right nostril.
- Now, inhale through your right and hold your breath.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb, and let go of the left nostril.
- Exhale through the left nostril and repeat the above steps.
- Do this for 10 repetitions, 3 sets
- Improves focus
- Relieves stress and anxiety
- Improves patience
- Improves lungs capacity
- Better cardiovascular and respiratory health
Bhastrika or Bellows breath
Bhastrika is one of the most powerful pranayamas and is both very beneficial and exhaustive to your body.
- Sit straight in sukhasana or padmasana.
- Inhale deeply while raising both of your arms above the shoulders.
- Make a fist of both of your palms
- Then with a sharp and fast pull bring down your hand to the shoulder while exhaling sharply.
- Repeat for 10 counts and 3 reps.
- Improves respiratory and digestive systems.
- Removes excess phlegm from lungs and respiratory system.
- Improves oxygen circulation.
- Strengthens your core.
- Improves focus.
- Strengthens your lungs.
Who should avoid Bhastrika Pranayama?
If any of the below things are true, avoid doing this pranayama.
- Pregnent or menstrurating
- High blood pressure
- Suffering from heart ailments
- Have a hernia or gastric ulcer.
- Suffering from epilepsy or vertigo
- Bleeding from nose
- Have detached retina or glaucoma
- Abdominal surgery
This is one of the most difficult pranayamas to master. It is basically to breathe in once and let out the breath with successive exhalations and in short bursts.
- Sit straight in sukhasana or padmasana.
- Place your hands on your knees with the index finger touching the thumb.
- Inhale deeply into your chest and belly as deeply as possible.
- Exhale sharply short consecutive breaths and control them with inward pressure from your stomach.
Here is a video that will help you master Kapalbhati.
- Improves your sinus
- Improves lungs capacity and cardiovascular system
- Energizes your nerves
- Improves mental strength
- Energizes your nervous system
- You have menstruation or pregnant
- Have heart ailments or high blood pressure
NOTE: I’m not a doctor and you should consult your physician before performing any of the above-mentioned exercises.
O’Brien, Justin. Running and breathing. Yes International Publishers, 2002.
Volkov, N.I., Kornienko, T.G. and Tambovtseva, R.V., 2014. Rates of breathing values and kinetics of respiration response in critical patterns of muscular activity in middle and long distance running. Human Physiology, 40(5), pp.542-547.
Coates, Budd, and Claire Kowalchik. Runner’s world running on air: The revolutionary way to run better by breathing smarter. Rodale Books, 2013.
Allen-Collinson, J. (2016). Breathing in life: Phenomenological perspectives on sport and exercise. In Routledge handbook of qualitative research in sport and exercise (pp. 33-45). Routledge.
Edwards, S. (2005). A psychology of breathing methods. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 7(4), 30-36.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.