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Why Do I Lose My Breath So Easily When I Run? Elite Runner Tips          

Why do I lose my breath so easily when I run? There are several reasons. Elite runners and beginner runners alike need to use their resources well. Winning trophies and enjoying the sport rely heavily on avoiding injuries. This includes effective muscle usage, maintaining joint health, and breathing right.

There are great ways to optimize metabolic effectiveness through breathing correctly. Does that mean that there’s a direct connection between breathing and generating more energy? Well, yes. And this might need some explanation.

As we run, the demand for more energy from our bodies increases consistently. Additionally, the hard bump as our feet hit the ground causes increased stress in our systems. This also requires more energy to accommodate its intensity. Interestingly, the cells in our bodies act in a manner that’s pretty similar to automotive engines. They burn fuel, or in that case food, to generate energy. Also, much like cars, they need oxygen to get that combustion going, and the resulting energy also comes with a bunch of waste products. In the case of human cells, that is carbon dioxide.

Thus, a perfectly healthy human with good reserves of glucose would need to inhale sufficient amounts of oxygen to burn that food for energy. And once that process is done, that said human, would also need to exhale the copious amounts of produced carbon dioxide. This brings us to the big question of why do I lose my breath so easily when I run?

Why Do I Lose My Breath So Easily When I Run?

Runners lose their breath easily because the body isn’t used to that heightened demand for oxygen utilization and carbon dioxide processing. The shortage of incoming oxygen causes a person to lose their breath. This often happens within the first half-hour of exercising. Breathing correctly can help mitigate this.

Running is a tough sport, and so, it’s not surprising at all to hear up-and-coming runners wondering; why am I struggling to run?

Breathing correctly doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of practice to be able to breathe efficiently and comfortably while running. If you’re a beginner athlete who’s just starting out running, this is perfectly normal. However, if you’re a seasoned runner and you lose your breath easily, then you should visit a doctor to make sure everything is fine. 

If you’ve been running for a while, but suddenly find yourself asking; why am I struggling to run? Then maybe you have some health issues that need to be addressed immediately. Additional signs of breathing distress include wheezing sounds, coughing, shoulder pain, or chest tightness. Some people have seasonal allergies, and that’s among the important reasons why you lose your breath easily while running.

Why Do I Run Out of Breath Fast When I Run?

In the absence health issues, running out of breath fast can be caused by a few issues. Running without sufficiently warming up, going uphill before being fully prepared, running in excessive heat, or running in polluted areas are some of the reasons why a runner runs out of breath. 

Runners are always impatient, and they want to reach tangible milestones fast. A legit question is how long should I be able to run without stopping? Beginners often imagine that they can run forever, like Dean Karnazes from the get-go and not go out of breath, but that’s rather optimistic. Alternating running and walking intervals is often a great way to avoid running out of breath in longer runs.

Increasing the intervals day after day often yields huge progress. Walking, even if it’s just a short time on a treadmill, can help your overall health by quite a bit.

If you ask an elite runner how long should I be able to run without stopping? They’d probably suggest a few miles or 20 to 30 minutes. This is often a reasonable goal, and it’s reachable through following proper breathing exercises as well as maintaining a good posture while running.

Additionally, you should warm up sufficiently before a run, and cool off after finishing. Also, avoid running uphill early on. This is an advanced run, and you need to be well-prepared for it. Finally, be careful where you run, as high traffic areas are heavily polluted, and you can easily run out of breath in the absence of good quality air. 

How Do I Stop Getting Out of Breath When Running?

Getting out of breath when running is subjective. Sprint training and interval training are designed to raise the heart rate, which will get you out of breath. If you’re heart rate is high and you are out of breath on easy runs, however, it can be an issue of not training properly or poor nutrition. Fix those issues.

The best-case scenario is to be able to hold a conversation while running at an easy pace. This is a situation that we often see at gyms, where people train side by side. The ones holding an animated chat have the best control over their breathing. They do that by regulating their breathing and allowing more oxygen in each breath.

The short-term approach to breathing easily while running is by letting the air into your respiratory tract through your nose and mouth simultaneously. This might seem like a contradiction to the generally known practice of inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. However, this method is the best way to drive in a generous supply of oxygen and help the lungs get rid of the excess carbon dioxide.

A longer-term approach is following a counting pattern that coordinates your breathing cycle with your steps. A 3:2 ratio of three inhales to two exhales is among the most popular patterns. However, if you need to go with a different pattern you certainly can do that too. A pro tip is to use the right breathing pattern for the right speed. For example, the 2:2 ratio works great while you’re warming up, while a sprint might require a 2:1.

How Do Runners Strengthen Their Lungs?

Having stronger lungs is a must if you want to become an elite runner, or even just enjoy that sport. Otherwise, it often becomes an ordeal, and eventually, many people quit. To advance in the sport runners strengthen their lungs by following two main paths; breathing exercises and posture correction.

How do elite runners breathe? The answer is quite simple: like a well-tuned machine! They’re pretty punctual with their breathing rhythm, they breathe through their bellies, and they keep their bodies in perfect form. Well-paced breathing ensures that they get the maximum amount of oxygen consistently. Additionally, they can get rid of the accumulating carbon dioxide, which minimizes cramps and sore muscles later on.

Increasing lung capacity and strength is also achieved through belly breathing. This trains the rib cage muscles, back muscles, and chest muscles and gets them in perfect form. Another important point is to keep the body straight while running. A slouched shoulder automatically blocks the whole of the chest area, which limits the lung capacity and its flexibility.

Thus training the core makes for stronger lungs. In fact, yoga is a wonderful way to strengthen the body and improve breathing. And so that answers the question of how do elite runners breathe?


Runners count on the agility of their bodies and the strength of their lungs to achieve high speeds and keep going for a long time. It’s thus quite understandable to hear a runner asking; why do I lose my breath so easily when I run?

The answer to that can be a lot of things. The main reasons are health issues, needing breathing exercises, running without sufficient warm-ups, going uphill prematurely, and choosing polluted trails for a run. Fortunately, all these matters can be addressed and improved.

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About the author

Jasper loves to write about fitness, running, and anything else that gets him moving outdoors. He's an avid hiker, backpacker, and climber who loves to stay fit so he can make sure he's healthy enough to enjoy his favorite hobbies. He also spends time writing about his true passions in life.