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When you run, you’re most likely sucking air into your mouth and blowing it out through your mouth. While this breathing pattern feels natural when working intensely, there are advantages to learning to breathe through your nose while running.

Research suggests that nasal breathing is a more efficient way of getting the oxygen your body needs for exercise. Translation: Your body doesn’t have to work as hard to supply oxygen, which means it can focus more energy on other aspects of running performance. (Learn how to harness the power of nasal breathing with this body-weight strength-and-conditioning flow.)

Use these three tips from Harrison Klein, a breath-first fitness instructor, personal trainer, and breathing coach at his performance and recovery center, Sauna Strong, to get started with nasal breathing while running.

1) Slow your pace at first.

If you typically mouth-breathe while running, you probably won’t be able to sustain the same pace while nasal breathing — at least not in the beginning. Depending on how often you run and how diligently you practice nasal breathing, it may take several weeks for your body to adjust. In the meantime, dial back your running pace. “You can even scale it down to walking at first to develop the nasal-breathing pattern,” Klein suggests.

2) Practice during endurance-focused runs.

Longer endurance runs are a natural fit for practicing nasal breathing because your pace is typically slower. This allows you to focus on taking slow, calm breaths, he notes. Easy recovery runs are also a good opportunity to do nasal breathing.

3) Maintain a steady rhythm.

Aim to keep your breathing calm and steady while you run. Let the nasal inhaling happen naturally (passively), and actively contract your belly to exhale all the air and empty your lungs, he advises. If you feel your breathing get out of control, slow down or stop to reset.

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Lauren Bedosky

Lauren Bedosky is a Twin Cities–based health-and-fitness writer.

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