Does anyone else struggle to breath through th... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Does anyone else struggle to breath through their nose and out of their mouth?

englishteacher87 profile image

I'm on week 6 at the moment and really enjoying the progress I've made. As I get toward the end of each run and more out of breath my inhaling rate obviously increases but I can't seem to get used to inhaling through my nose - it isn't fast enough and my body wants me to pant instead to get more oxygen. I try to do it anyway with long deep nasal inhales and controlled exhales but it makes me feel MORE out of breath. Am I just mad?

19 Replies
Laney0378 profile image


I have exactly the same problem! I have enough trouble getting enough air in through my mouth when I'm running, let alone my nose, so I'm afraid I just give up and mouth breathe! - Sorry that's probably not helpful to you but at least you're not alone...

Certainly, if you're not getting enough oxygen in you're going to struggle and feel more out of breath but I don't know if there is any way around that.

I've tried slowing down and it doesn't seem to do much. It isn't so bad that I'm gasping for air or anything. I'm just wanting to get in good habits now else I worry later on down the line it could be difficult to overcome.

Thanks for the support though. Like you said, at least we aren't alone!

Laney0378 profile image
Laney0378Graduate in reply to englishteacher87

You're welcome!

If slowing down doesn't work then I don't know what to suggest.

I've struggled all my life with breathing through my nose so I'm used to it by now but I can appreciate you want to do it right - I just wish I could too but maybe someone else can offer helpful suggestions or you could always ask your doctor for advice?

Hi, I cannot breathe through my nose at all when running. I think I would suffocate if I tried! Just go with whatever is comfortable for you. The only disadvantages I've found are that I get a dry mouth (I always carry a little runners water bottle with me), my nose tends to run (tissue in other hand) and I have to be careful not to swallow flies!! I posted a similar question a couple of weeks ago and you'll find that a lot of other people are like us! Hope this helps? Claire. X

Hi, i know exactly what you mean, I still sound like I'm gasping for breath when I'm running, sometimes I find that if I don't consciously think about actually breathing through my nose it comes more naturally.

I've just completed Week 5 run 3 today, and when I got to where I run, I found that my ipod had deleted the podcast for this one, but rather than not do anything, since I knew it was 5mins warm up then 20 mins run, i just made a playlist that had a song for 5mins at start and then just ran to the music for the next 20 mins( I had someone with me who was able to keep time) and I found it much easier to breathe when listening to music I liked and was simply singing along with it (albeit just mouthing words as such) and I found that really helped.

I've been told that when exercising, not necessarily running, that if you keep breathing through your mouth then you end up not taking in enough oxygen which is why you end up panting and taking more of an attempt to actually get enough oxygen to continue with what you're doing as end up taking more carbon dioxide than oxygen, whereas taking in through nose allows you take more oxygen to keep going.

Hope this helps, :)

Laney0378 profile image
Laney0378Graduate in reply to DMC6885

Well I'm in trouble then cause I just can't breathe through my nose regularly! I do sound like a horse that's winded after a hard race so I'll probably scare the other runners when I do a parkrun - which I'm going to attempt in 2 weeks as my first Week 9 run - but I still manage to keep running and breathe through my mouth - maybe that will stop me from going faster, I don't know...

Hidden profile image

Something like Yoga or Pilates might help with breathing as it is generally taught as part of the workout. It will also help to strengthen and supple your body so might be worth a try. Pilates is my choice and I find it complements the running very well. I still mouth breathe a little bit when running but not so much as before. Hope you find a solution that works for you. Good luck.

ju-ju- profile image

I have never been able to breathe through my nose when I'm running, and I must look a freak as I do 'swimming' breathing ( if you get my drift! I get hayfever etc so I spend most of the summer blowing it, so it really doesn't bother me that I don't. I think we have to listen to our bodies and do what feels 'right'

Happy breathing :)

sfb350 profile image

I mostly mouth breathe - I had sinusitis for most of the C25K program and just couldn't breathe well through my nose. I've read various different "expert" opinions on this - they don't all agree, so I just do what feel comfortable.

barrygarlow profile image

I have the same issue too. I have a deviated septum and so struggle to breath through my nose as there is not enough space. I also have something called lupus (sle) which apparently makes it more difficult to heal if I get the corrective operation and so it looks like I'm stuck with it.

It doesn't cause me too many problems, only I feel a bit self conscious on the parkrun when people can hear me coming from a mile away! And I get a very dry mouth too, but you just have to adapt to whatever suits your own body.

bikergirl profile image

We are all told constantly we are meant to breathe in through our nose and out through our mouth, but a while ago I was having panic attacks and I went to see a doctor I told him that I was struggling to do just that, in through nose and out mouth, i felt like i wasnt getting enough air in my lungs if i breathed in my nose, he told me that he is of perfect health and he always breaths in through his mouth, And in all his 30 odd years of experience, he has had so many people coming in worrying about this, not just for panic attacks, if you focus on your breathing you tend to use your mouth, when you aren't aware of your breathing you use your nose. The best thing you can do is try not to think about it too much It wont cause you any harm :-)

Plinth profile image

Yeh, I have trouble breathing full stop. And the more I think about it.... The worst it gets. But at least it's running for 30 that makes me struggle now, rather than 60s!

Kimmiijay profile image

Yeah, feel the same. Also when everyone else talks about cramp in the legs I never get that, it's my breathing which stops me pushing anymore - which is stupid because I have massive lung capacity - just can't get the air in.

Just done week to and the whole "in for 4 beats, out for 4 beats" just wasn't happening.

caz1_ca profile image

Yup I can't do it either. At first I thought it was just the cold weather that stopped me, but the warmer weather is now here and I still can't. Same thing as you I just don't feel like I'm getting enough air when I breath through my nose. It's probably something we just have to work on maybe. So I am a mouth breather whilst jogging and to combat dry mouth I chew gum. :-)

Another deviated septum here so there's no way I can get enough oxygen in through my nose unless I'm sitting down doing nothing :-)

I have given up worrying about it - I don't find I'm puffing and panting too much, am only worried about swallowing flies, as Claire mentioned above! Hasn't happened so far, so I'm just going to carry on as I am.

Thanks for all the advice folks. Run 2 of week 6 today and I tried to ignore my breathing. Last two mins were tough, lots of deep inhaling was required, but I got through it. Worrying about the sustained run next session. Have done yoga in the past which was great fun for stretching out but I was too bored holding the pose!

ktaylor217 profile image

I do a mixture of mouth and nose breathing. It took me weeks to get to grips with the breathing and I still struggle to do in for 1-2-3-4 and out for 1-2-3-4 like the podcast says. I tend to do in for 2 then out for 2 but that's just what works for me.

I also read in runners world that mouth breathing is actually more efficient than in through the nose and out through the mouth...

Just try to relax and figure out what works for you.

Keep at it!

greenlegs profile image

Just breathe. Much easier than counting! Sometimes I breathe through my mouth, sometimes my nose. Whatever feels most comfortable at the time.

No.. your not mad, I have the same issue however I don't dwell on it until I have to gasp after breathing in a fly midge. If you feel the urge to breath in more quickly then slow your pace down until you feel less stress and then get that nice even rhythm. Lots of people are naturally mouth breathers, like myself. I do try though to establish to inhale through the nose and mouth, but it feels natural to inhale and exhale from the mouth when you are pushing yourself further, like you have described. Some people also find it difficult to relax when they run and that makes it more difficult to breath naturally. A tip is to allow the stomach to relax and this will expand your lung capacity to inhale more exhale oxygenated blood to those vital muscles and organs.. SO don't hold the stomach in let it wobble and you'll notice the difference in your breathing technique. Good luck to you and let me know if this works better for you

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