How to Run Without Getting Tired or Breathing Heavily

Female runners
Chris Leschinsky

Some new runners get frustrated when they find themselves getting tired or feeling out of breath as soon as they start running. Heavy breathing and fatigue are signs that you're running too fast and pushing past your current fitness level. As you're trying to build endurance and improve your running, you want to try to avoid running at that level. It's more important that you work on proper running form and breathing, and run at a pace that’s suitable for your fitness level.

That will allow you to increase distance and build your fitness and running confidence.

To avoid getting tired and breathing heavy during your runs, here’s what to do: 

  1. Check your posture. Hold your torso straight, and avoid bending at the waist while you're running. This will help you breathe much more efficiently. Slumping or hunching over can decrease your lung capacity and restrict your breathing.
  2. Focus on deep breathing.​ Breathe from your belly and take a deep inhale through your mouth and nose. Belly breathing gives your lungs the most amount of room to expand and draw in oxygen. It will also help you avoid annoying side stitches. You should feel your abdomen expanding, rather than your upper chest. Then breathe out slowly and evenly through your mouth.
  3. Use your arms to move you forward. Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle as you’re running. Rotate your arms at your shoulders. As you pull one arm back, pull the other one forward. This arm movement will help to propel your body forward, so your legs don’t have to work so hard. As an experiment, try to run with your arms at your side. Tough, right?  Your arms help lighten your legs’ workload, so use them. Arm motion is part of proper running form.
  1. Breathe in for three steps. As you step, left foot, right foot, left foot, count, “1, 2, 3” to yourself. Breathe through your nose and mouth, and try to continue to take deep belly breaths. If your breathing is too shallow, you’ll get a side stitch.
  2. Exhale for two steps. Breathe out through your mouth. As you step, right foot, left foot, count, “1, 2” to yourself.
  1. Keep it to a "conversational pace." You should be able to talk in complete sentences (not just one-word responses) as you’re running. If you're running by yourself. you should be able to sing a simple song, like "Happy Birthday," without gasping for air. If you find yourself getting out of breath, slow down and take a walk break. Using a run/walk approach is a key strategy to increase your distance without feeling too tired or out of breath.
  2. Don't increase the pace too quickly. Try to build up your endurance before you focus on speed. Once you're breathing comfortably for your runs, you can work on getting faster.

A Word From Verywell

If you are a new runner, you need to work on the basics first. Focusing on good running form rather than speed can help you steadily improve your fitness. Soon, you'll be able to run without needing stops for longer and longer distances. As your fitness improves, you'll be able to run faster without getting out of breath.

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