Run Mom Run Happy

My thoughts on being a mom, runner, wannabe health nut, and everything else.

Running & Breathing: Mouth or Nose?

on January 8, 2016

While standing on the side of a main road, waiting on the heavy traffic to have enough of a break so I could access my running trail on the other side, I noticed how loudly I was breathing.  Out of my mouth.  It was the first time I had ever really noticed that I didn’t breathe out of my nose while running, or apparently, when I was forced to take a brief break.

So, there I was, standing with my mouth hanging open, breathing heavily, staring at the line of cars with an annoyed expression on my face….realizing that I was a mouth breather.  (Have you seen the Breathe Right commercial that basically states that mouth breathing is the worst thing ever?  I realize they are talking about sleeping, and not running, but it’s the image that immediately popped into my head!)


When I was able to continue to my run, I checked out how other runners were breathing.  I swear, every person I passed that day was breathing through their noses with their mouths closed.  I attempted it.  It did not work.  I could not breathe through my nose while running.  I felt like I wasn’t getting enough air, and I started to feel light-headed.

I have worked on my breathing while running before, utilizing the three steps inhale, two steps exhale if I am experiencing any difficulty.  If I am feeling good, I pay no attention to the pattern of my breaths.  I had just never focused on how I was getting the air into my body.  After feeling like something was definitely wrong with me when I finished, I decided to research if nose breathing was the ideal while running.  While there are some mixed opinions, I was relieved to find that I was definitely not alone in my noisy way of accessing oxygen.

Mouth or Nose:  Which way of breathing while running is better?

A combination!

According to, you should breathe utilizing both your mouth and nose while running to optimize the amount of oxygen brought into your body.  (Other sites recommended breathing mostly through your nose if the temperature or humidity was very low, and some only supported utilizing your mouth.  Others?  Whatever feels natural.)

I also realized that I tend to close my mouth and smile and nod when passing other runners.  If they were during the same when I was attempting to analyze their breathing, my conclusions on their technique would have most definitely been off.  (I only realized this after being sure that I was doing something wrong.  Because of course I did.)

The sound of my mouth breathing does sometimes annoy me while I run.  (I can’t stop hearing the sound now that I’ve heard it.)  My solution?  Turning my music up a bit louder!

How do you breathe while you run?



4 responses to “Running & Breathing: Mouth or Nose?

  1. kristenk says:

    Haha this is so funny! I actually have no idea how I breathe when I run and now you’ve got me thinking about it too! I’m thinking that I’m a mouth breather too, but I’m not totally sure. I’m currently sick, but next time I go for a run I’ll make sure to let you know what happens!

  2. Saw your post on Link Love on Facebook! I breathe through my mouth once I start getting tired. I guess, lack of oxygen = need more? And like you said, when I really need air I feel like I don’t get enough through my nose. I almost always start out breathing through my nose. Also, was thinking that some people who might have more allergies and other things probably end up having to breathe via their mouths more without as much of a choice.

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