Struggling with breathing....

I started running recently and am up to running 1mn 8X and 2 mn walk 8X.  I really enjoy it but find that my breathing lets me down.  I seem to be out of breath almost as soon as I start running which makes it hard for me to keep going for more than a minute!  Any advice?  I am not running too fast either!  Thanks


  • Your breathing will become better the more you run.  Almost every new runner finds it difficult at first, I certainly did and can run for an hour without stopping after just 3 months.  Your lungs are just like your muscles and need time to adapt and get stronger.  If you can manage with the walk/run x 1min that you are doing I would stick to that for a week and then increase it to 2min run/2min walk. 

    Good luck and well done.

  • I am the same, it does get better the more you train, I could only run a min at first, now I can manage nearly 30mins without stopping and my breathing sometimes is still all over the place when I start off my run, so you're not alone in experiencing this image
  • Presuming you don't get out of breath when you walk I'd say you are still going too fast. Instead of trying to slow down from running, try to speed up from a walking speed. Good luck and don't give up. image

    Ps. Sometimes trying to get the focus off breathing helps too. You can think about it too much sometimes.

  • Thank you all for the useful comments.  I will try to slow down a little more and I do think I am over focussing on the breathing too!!  I might need to just relax a little and keep trying...
  • Try to relax a little, I have to correct my posture sometimes. Involuntary I sometimes lean forward, look down and hunh my shoulders up. I loosen up my shoulders and 'run tall' which seems to open up the lung capacity.
  • loulabellloulabell ✭✭✭

    like the others  have said the breathing thing is same for all beginners. this time last year i attempted a 5mile event with no training(bit daft) and couldnt run more than half a mile before i thought my lungs were going to burst! poor hubs had to keep stopping the whole way round for me!

    a year on i am now heading for my first HM. Most weekends i  now run 10k as my training , something i never thought id be doing after just12 months. it takes some time and myself and a friend did perservere through the winter, but  your body will get used to it. i still puff for like an old steam train for the 1st mile and then it settles down !

    i agree, sometimes you can over concentrate on breathing. maybe find a tune or song that fits your pace and hum it just to start off until your breathing settles down. i find it works for me-sounds crazy but does work! 

  • I'd guess you were running too fast too. General rule is if you running so fast that you can't speak more than a few words at once, then you're going too fast. I did the same thing when i first started. My speed seemed slow when i saw other runners, so i tried to speed up - big mistake. I just ended up gasping for breath and getting stitches. I slowed down and kept reminding myself to run easy and after a few sessions like that i found i could suddenly run further and faster while breathing quite comfortably. It's great when that happens, so don't give up. Keep going xx

  • Would love to jump on this post and get some advice. I'm not a novice runner (despite still being slow) - I've been running for almost 20 years but am quite a tense and stressed type, feel tired all the time and have become obsessive over my poor running performance which translates into difficulty breathing. I'm a chest breather rather than stomach breather anyway and generally forget to breathe deeply most of the time when not running. I run off road with my dogs three to four times a week so can't have music on to distract me due to needing to pay attention to the dogs and surroundings. Any advice?
  • Should I try to breath to a rhythm? Or just breathe however my body wants me to breathe? 
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Hi jessiebelle and williams.

    Firstly for jessiebelle I think you've perhaps answered the question yourself when you say you're a tense and stressed type and that you've become obsessive over your performance. If you're not relaxed then everything is going to seem hard. Perhaps if you try to take the stress away from your running that may help. Rather than think about your performance just think about how nice it is to be out in the fresh air with your dogs. Don't put any pressure on yourself to run a particular pace or distance, enjoy the surroundings. Once you've mastered relaxing during your running hopefully what you consider to be a problem with breathing will improve.

    Williams - I think there it's a case of however your body wants to breathe. It honestly is what works for you. Personally I hated hearing myself breathe when I first started so I'd listen to music.
  • @williams your body knows when you need to breathe, just let it get on with it :)
  • New runner here and I also experience difficulty breathing but only when I'm outside. On the treadmill is fine but as soon as I'm outside my thought closes up and my ear canals get all tight and painful. Anything I can do about this? 
  • Me and the wife have both got back into running this last month. I'm quite a noisy breather but its controlled and to a rythm, whereas my wife seems to be more erattic and laboured and she seems to struggle more especially on uphills. 
  • YnnecYnnec ✭✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Me and the wife have both got back into running this last month. I'm quite a noisy breather but its controlled and to a rythm, whereas my wife seems to be more erattic and laboured and she seems to struggle more especially on uphills. 
    This might help:

    I've tried to adjust my breathing whilst running but something distracts me, my subconscious kicks in and I revert to type.

    Has anyone used a POWERbreathe? I got one in the late noughties & it didn't seem to improve my lung capacity and I ended up with a chest infection (probably my fault as I neglected the sterilization protocol).
  • <blockquote class="Quote">
    <div><a rel="nofollow">Ynnec</a> said:</div>
    <div><blockquote class="Quote">
    <div><a rel="nofollow">Thebigeasy</a> said:</div>
    <div>Me and the wife have both got back into running this last month. I'm quite a noisy breather but its controlled and to a rythm, whereas my wife seems to be more erattic and laboured and she seems to struggle more especially on uphills. </div>

    This might help:

    <a rel="nofollow" href=""></a>;

    I've tried to adjust my breathing whilst running but something distracts me, my subconscious kicks in and I revert to type.

    Has anyone used a POWERbreathe? I got one in the late noughties & it didn't seem to improve my lung capacity and I ended up with a chest infection (probably my fault as I neglected the sterilization protocol).</div>
    Interesting, will have a closer look at my breathing tomorrow when running, although noisy, I feel I can cope relatively fine, I will show this to my wife, but can almost guarantee she won't change her style, but will moan when we up the pace or milage. Women! 
  • Hi there! 🙂 I'm having similar issues. A little background is necessary:

    I've been always moderately active, yet not a real athlete in any way—playing ice-hockey, badminton & tenis for fun and rugby at a competitive level. I've ALWAYS struggled with longer running (and longer is supposed to be in huge quotemarks, because it means anything above 1 km in one run). I generally did not mind running during the aforementioned sports, beacuse it was mostly intervals at a moderate pace (run, stop, run, stop, wait, run, ...).

    I've started running (and only running) 2 years ago, a year after our kids were born and I stopped playing rugby. I've gained a lot of weight after I've suffered a shoulder injury while playing rugby and then stayed less and less active when the kids were most demanding: currently being 177 cm and massive 105 kg. Don't get me wrong, I was always more than bulky (read fat) but also muscular in my rugby prime time. I was a prop (therefore needed weight & strenght). The jump was from ~92 to 105 kg. This is a huge weight jump that certainly adds a lot to the problem. Yet I just can't help but believe that it's not the core of the problem.

    I think the problem is a combination of my breathing and technique which I think also need additional explanation: For the first 200-400 m I feel I could run for an hour at that pace (I intentionally try to run very slowly and keep the pace down). Then something changes and I'm completely out of breath. I can struggle and get to 1 or 1,5 km but that's my absolute limit and I need to start walking. I feel like I can't get proper inhale. The pace I'm talking about is 7-8 min/km. When I tried to do my little research, I realized that I can easily walk for many kilometers at a pace close to 10-11 min/km. I can also last for ages on an eliptical. I can play a whole tennis match with much more athletic opponents or beat the hell out of a 70 kg guy in badminton. I can ice-skate for hours at quite a fast pace... I just can't run for any longer that 1 km (or translated to time 5-8 minutes according to the pace). And it was always like this. Even when I was most active, during the rugby period. When I went through the then mandatory medical inspections, my VO2 max levels were a little above average.

    My question is: is it possible that my technique is somehow completely wrong and I'm actually knocking myself out of breath with every step? I tend to land steps more on my heels (and cause little earthquakes), but when I try to balance the running more on my toes, I can't keep the pace down.

    Any suggestions for reading or personal tips would be much appreciated 🙂
    genuinelyme - you don't say how much running you are actually doing.   Firstly don't worry about whether you are heel striking or landing on your forefoot, if you start getting injured and that is attributed to your running style then think about changing it, for now just run in a way that feels natural for you, don't think about it.

    Your weight gain is certainly making your running an awful lot harder, I'm not suggesting that you go on a diet but make sure you eat healthily and don't eat large portions, combined with the running any excess weight will reduce gradually and you'll keep it off.

    I think you're just trying to run too fast too soon.  It can take months and months to build a strong aerobic base and by setting off too fast and then having to stop as you're out of breath and is not improving your fitness.   You say that you can't keep the pace down but that is exactly what you need to do.   It's great that you can walk well for a decent distance as that is what you need to do.   I would suggest that each of your training sessions is 40 to 60 minutes and a combination of walking and running, walk for the first mile at a brisk pace and when you feel ready break into a slow easy run, as soon as your breathing becomes laboured and you can't talk comfortably back to a walk again and so on.  When you walk that needs to be a fast walk.  I don't know how often you're going running but start with 2 to 3 times a week, not on consecutive days.  You should after about 6 weeks of this be able to run a mile comfortably, and once you can run one mile then it's easy to increase the distance, but the key is to keep the pace down.

    You just need to persevere, you may see others out running in what looks like a speedy and effortless manner but they all had to start sometime.
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Completely agree with the above from Shades. When I played football and squash I could easily get through both without too much of a problem. But when it came to distance running (and I considered anything over 400m in one go a distance on those days) I had the same problem as you did where I felt my breathing couldn't cope. 

    For me I felt it was more psychological rather than physical as there shouldn't have been a reason why I struggled as I considered myself to be fairly fit. For starters I'd always considered myself more of a sprinter than a distance runner, so I had to change my mindset in that respect as regards speed and also how far I would run. Secondly I hated to hear the sound of my breath, it sounded laboured and therefore it felt laboured. Wearing headphones and listening to music helped.

    Also doing Heart Rate Zone training helped as well. It almost forces you to keep the pace down.

    Good luck.
  • YnnecYnnec ✭✭✭
    edited May 2019
    Shades & Guarddog nailed it, genuinelyme. As to your breathing concern, don't stress it. It's a subconscious thing like balancing, dreaming, hating Piers Morgan and blinking.
  • Thank you guys! It's very encouraging! 🙂 I've already tried to slow the pace down as much as I could and got to 8'12'' per km. It felt much better even though the percieved speed was faser than I expected. The good news is that I've beaten 1,5km in one run (without any walking) and then went on to 3,4km (with 2 short walking phases). It's really a strange feeling because I thought that I was intentionally running slow before. But now that I see, that I can start and go forth even slower and therefore further/longer, it's a revelation 🙂 I'll try to go even slower today and keep you posted!

    Once again, thank you!
  • jag1jag1 ✭✭
    I used to find I puffed and panted after a few minutes running, but if I ran through it, then it would settle and become much nearer normal. My theory, and this is not based on any medical training whatsoever, is as follows - when you start running your muscles are shouting out for oxygenated blood to provide the energy needed, which means the heart has to work faster to pump the blood to where it is needed, therefore you need to get more oxygen into your lungs. Then once the blood has arrived where it is needed, then the heart can steady a bit as it has done its immediate job, so your breathing rate returns to a bit more like normality. I found if I persevered and jogged slowly through that puffing phase, I could then run happily for some time before my legs gave out.

    Now a few months down the line and a lot fitter all round, not just from running, I don't get that horrible panting feeling any more. Keep at it and follow the good advice above and I'm sure you'll be able to jog through it soon.
  • Thank you @jag1! That is exactly the case of my wife — she can get through that puffing phase quite easily. I, on the other hand, find it extremely difficult. I've just finished my short run and the results are strange... Even though I tried to slow down, I managed to accelerate my pace to 7'21'' (from previous 8'12'') per kilometer. My legs just wouldn't let me go slower. BUT. It was easier. It was actually within limits of the pace I was used to when I couldn't get over 1,5 km and I once again did. So this was the second time in three days that I went quite smoothly through 1,5 km in a single run (no walking phases) but this time even faster than before. I'm a bit puzzled, yet it seems to fit the previous comments — it'll just come 🙂 I'll have a day off tomorrow, since I need to take care of the kids but I'm going to run again on sunday and see what happens. Will post the results!

    Thanks again! You're all very helpful and encouraging!
    genuinelyme - that's great progress.  It seems that you need to concentrate for now and very soon you will be having those more comfortable runs without much effort.   And your running has become much more enjoyable too.

    We'll have you signing up for a marathon soon ;)
  • Paul_SPaul_S ✭✭

    I agree with most of the comments above insofar as you need to keep your pace down to a level that's comfortable for most of your runs. One thing I don't agree with though is being told to ignore your form - you mention heel striking causing "little earthquakes". I'm of the opinion that correcting your form is best done when you're starting out rather than after you've built yourself up to decent distances. It doesn't make sense to me to ingrain your bad form with mileage. Heel striking like that will only lead to injuries down the road and running will never feel as easy as it would with a decent landing foot. I was a heel striker myself when I started running but after a few bouts of shin splints I decided to get off my heels and onto my balls. It took a few months for it to feel natural but was well worth the effort. When I see runners out these days crashing heel first into the pavement I just wince. Good luck with your future running.
    Paul - heel striking is not a fault, many elites do it.   I said that if running form causes injury then work towards changing it.

    And shin splints is usually caused by over striding and often from landing too hard on the forefoot, as many beginners often do.
  • I had the same problem. I started running several weeks ago to reach a better physical form, but my organism wasn't prepared for exercise stress. Additionally, I have been smoking for several years and now I feel how it affect my endurance. I tried to quit cold turkey but it doesn't work with me, I tried some alternative ways. I heard a lot about nicotine gums and vaping, found several sites where people trying to quit and creating some communities to make quitting easier (like VapingDaily or smth like that) but I didn't find it effective for my case. It took 5 hardest days to change smth in my life, I stopped smoking and every time I wanted to start I went for a run or made some exercises for breathing. The first day it was like hell but now I can say that I become stronger than my addiction and hope that in future I will survive it at all.
  • I am totally the same - not sure I have managed to improve as quickly as some others on here but I have seen slow and steady improvement :)
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