Couch to 5K

Rhythmic breathing?

Does anyone use rhythmic breathing - where you breathe in for 3 and out for 2? I've read it helps prevent injury and stitch, as you alternate which leg is hitting the ground on your inhale. Has anyone found it helps? Tried it yesterday for my 30 min run, but found it a bit hard to keep track of. I kept on slipping back in to my normal 2-2 pattern (never quite mastered Laura's 4 in, 4 out recommendation as it felt too slow!)

13 Replies

What you are describing is called asymmetric rhythmic breathing :) I use rhythmic breathing all the time - and it now comes naturally - I don't have to count :) I use 4-4 for easy running, 3-3 for a steady to fastish pace, and 2-2 when I am kicking home in the last few hundred metres of a 5K run at parkrun. Hence at parkrun, I usually do 4-4 for the first klm until I am warmed up, then increase my pace a little using 3-3 and finally in the home stretch , use 2-2. I have tried the asymetric breathing - but found that I didn't need to use it as I generally don't have any "stitch" problems - which is strange because I always used to get stitches when I was much younger!! :)


Ah, yes that's what I mean - asymmetric rhythmic breathing. Thanks Bazza. Went back to my 2-2 this morning - much more comfortable!


I am wondering if you really NEED to breath 2-2. It actually takes additional energy to breath so quickly - try it while your are standing still and you will see what I mean :) You said that you could not master Laura's 4-4 rythm - so why don't you see if you can use 3-3. You probably shouldn't really need to use 2-2 unless you are really hammering it!! :)


I breath in for two, and out for four...I think it comes from swimming where you have to grab your air in as quickly as possible while your head is turned, but breath out slowly all the time your head is under the water. I probably look like a fish gulping when I'm running...


My time with Laura had me breathing 2:2 for most of the 9 weeks during the running bits and I really couldn't manage the 4 in 4 out she suggested back then. But now I can clop along quite happily at 4:4 or in 3 out 4 unless I am going uphill or increasing the speed a bit then it gets back to 2:2. It has taken me almost 5 months to reach that happy state. I need to even the pace out a bit now because that's all over the place!


I've been breathing in and sometimes out for years now and still haven't quite got the hang of it. I find the harder I run the faster my breathing becomes - which is amazing and there are probably American Professors who have written very expensive books on this :) Effectively I just do what my body tells me to do - BUT perhaps I should take this more seriously - what I find is that sometimes I hold my breath or just take very shallow breathes and start to feel tired but if I start taking really deep breathes then I become less tired. I do have a problem with rhythm which is why I have never been invited to be in a band even though I am from Liverpool and everyone but me has been in a band here - so I find counting breaths difficult and don't bother - I find it hard enough keeping in time with the BPM in c25k+ let a lone breathing. Perhaps if Laura could be saying 'breathe in, breathe out,' at the same time as counting 'One two three four' - I might manage it :)

1 like

Thanks guys- that's really helpful. I think I'll give 3-3 a go on my next run. I guess it is just trying things and finding out which works for me best.


I generally found I TRY and breathe IN when i need it.. and out when I need to exhale.. its funny but it seems to have worked for me over my 50 or so years to date... I do wonder if we try and over-complicate things JUST a tad? A bit like drinking water.. I drink something if i feel thirsty, and if i don't I don't ( and PLEASE don't anyone come back to me with the ' by the time you are thirsty we are already dehydrated' thingy either.. I could bore you for hours with the facts on that particular subject)

SO when it comes to breathing , I find let the body do what it does naturally seems to work for me..


It's easy to say just let your body do it's natural thing but breathing properly when running is something I really struggle with. When I was sprinting during boot camp, I found my breathing got really shallow and I wasn't getting enough oxygen in to calm myself down. When I am jogging along on my own speed now, I focus on breathing steadily (I don't count it) and deeply, and that seems to work for me. If I find myself getting too breathless, I slow my jogging down until I can get it even again.


I definitely don't agree with the concept sometimes espoused by fellow runners - to just do what comes naturally - put one leg after another, etc.

Although running (and walking) come naturally to us - there are skills involved in these actions , as well as any other bodily action that we do. Swimming is also another natural motion for humans - but nobody would deny that there are skills which require learning and practice to improve our natural swimming motion.

I have read one running trainer who says that we should regard our training runs to be practice runs -- we are actually practicing the skills involved in the sport called running.


I attach an advance copy of my new book to be published by Harper Collins in January 2015 at £14.99

'Advanced Breathing Techniques For Runners',

In, Out, In... The End.

The controversial sequel 'Put Your Best Foot Forward' is to be serialized in the Sunday Times :)


I sometimes use the 3 in 2 out breathing if my body is saying 'stop!'. It gets more oxygen to my lungs and also distracts me from my body's shouting. I find I can't keep it up for long though. As soon as I stop counting 'In- 2- 3 , out- 2' I just start puffing and gasping as usual.

I think i read somewhere that this rhythm of 5 is better for your legs somehow, as you breathe in on alternate left then right, rather than always on the right or the left as you do with a 4- 4 or 3-3 or 2-2.


Hello...its been a while...

I also read about the 3-in and 2-out breathing pattern, and gave it a go as I had a niggle in my left knee and right ankle, and hoped this rhythm might balance the stresses out.

I agree to some extent that you can over complicate things that should be fairly natural (breathing drinking etc), but, that said, after a few weeks, this 3-in, 2-out breathing does now come naturally, and suits my current pace/exertion levels better than the 2-2 breathing I was previously using (and still use on hills).

I'd suggest experimenting with this, you might like it!

FYI, I also seem to remember reading that some recommend 2-in, 3-out, to completely clear your lungs by emphasising the 'out'...fresh air (plus lots of lovely oxygen) will rush right in quickly once the lungs have been emptied...never tried it mind!


You may also like...