Marathon Training 2019 Day 12: Importance of Nasal and Rhythmic Breathing

January 27 2019 long run medium version“Conscious breathing heightens awareness and deepens relaxation.” – Dan Brule

After a dynamic warm-up, I ran for ~34 minutes in a primarily flat area. It was a little chilly during the run and this reminded me of the importance of trying to breathe in through the nose to warm and filter the area before it hits your lungs. I will discuss more on breathing in the Tip of the Day below.  Immediately after my run, I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~30 seconds)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~35 seconds)
  • Side planks (~25 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 cycles)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (7 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (7 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

Then, I did foam rolling for ~10 minutes.

Recommendation: If you have an easy day scheduled, as I would recommend for intermediate and advanced runners (running at least 4-5 days per week), keep the pace easy today. Again, depending on your running experience and time taken off you may choose to run 30-45 minutes today.  If you are a beginner running three days a week, you may want to do a 25-30 minute walk. For all runners, I recommend performing the exercises above. Then you should do at least a 10 minute cool-down.

Tip of the Day: Maintaining steady, rhythmic breathing while you run is vital to your running performance. It is also important to breathe in through your nose, while exhaling through the mouth, especially during the winter months.

Ben Greenfield, exercise physiologist and triathlon coach, in his book “Beyond Training” discusses the importance of deep nasal breathing. That is breathing air through the nose and into the belly, instead of shallow breathing in the mouth and into the chest. This can help relax the body and warms and filters the air coming into your body. This also better helps oxygenate your exercising muscles while you run. Greenfield says that if you simply can’t get in enough oxygen through the nose, then slow down until you get to the point where you can do nasal breathing, then gradually speed up again to higher intensity.

In addition to nasal breathing, your breathing should be rhythmic. In his book, “Daniels’ Running Formula”, exercise physiologist and running coach Jack Daniels discuss optimal breathing rhythms while running. What he recommends is using a 3-3 breathing rhythm for easy runs. That is taking three steps (right, left, right) while breathing in, and three steps (left, right, left) while breathing out. As we get into longer runs, and higher intense runs, this breathing pattern should shift to 2-2. Your breathing rhythms can be used to help monitor pace/intensity. If you are doing a 3-3 rhythm and feel like you are not getting enough air during an easy run, you are going too fast. Slow down until 3-3 is comfortable.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Good luck with your training!

Your friend and coach,



  • Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield. Victory Belt Publishing, Inc. 2014.
  • Daniels’ Running Formula Second Edition. Jack Daniels. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 2005.
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