How to Improve Your Lung Capacity and Breathing When Running

How to Improve Your Lung Capacity and Breathing When Running

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Lung capacity is not the limiting factor of how much oxygen the body uses.

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It is not uncommon for runners to feel out of breath. A challenging route, a tough race or even a longer distance than what you are accustomed to can leave you feeling like you are gasping for air. The idea of increasing lung capacity in order to allow easier breathing and more comfortable running sounds very appealing, but it is a misnomer. The reality is, lung capacity is not what makes us feel out of breath. Lungs can provide more than enough oxygen even in the toughest runs. The problem lies in the ability of the cardiovascular system being able to use the oxygen efficiently.

Increase Running Volume


Run more frequently each week. If you are running three times per week, add a forth day. Doing so gives the body time to build more capillaries and cell mitochondria, which allows more oxygen to flow through the blood at any time. The blood becomes more concentrated with hemoglobin and has a better network to transport the blood to the working muscles.


Run longer during each workout. If you are currently running two miles at a time, increase your run to two and a quarter miles. Or if you prefer using a time goal, increase the time slightly each week. For example, run 30 minutes in the first week and 35 minutes in the second week.


Increase running volume by no more than 10 and 20 percent each week to reduce your risk of an injury.

Incorporate a Tempo Run Each Week


Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Multiply that number by 0.85 to determine the target heart rate you should aim for during your tempo run.


Run one third of your normal run distance at a pace fast enough to achieve your target heart rate. Performing a tempo run allows your body to work at the lactate threshold, the point at which the body fatigues. Repeatedly working at that level will train your body to push the lactate threshold higher so you can workout longer and more comfortably at any given pace.


Run the first and last third of your workout at a comfortable pace. This will allow your cardiovascular system adequate time to warm up and cool down before and after the tempo work.

Incorporate Interval Training


Calculate 90 percent of your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 then multiplying that by 0.90. This is your work interval target heart rate.


Calculate 65 percent of your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 then multiplying that number by 0.65. This is your recovery interval target heart rate.


Run for 30 seconds at a pace fast enough to achieve your work interval heart rate, followed by a 90 second run at a slower pace. Your recovery run should be long enough to allow your heart rate to return to the recovery target before starting the next work interval.


Repeat the interval cycle four to five times. Performing a weekly interval workout improves oxygen consumption because over time intervals increase the volume of blood that is supplied to the body with every heart beat.

Things Needed

  • Running shoes
  • Heart rate monitor


  • As each type of training becomes easier, increase the intensity to continue to challenge the cardiovascular system.


  • Use caution when increasing running volume or intensity. Doing so too quickly may lead to injuries. Always consult with your physician before starting any new exercise program.


  1. Dok

    I'm sorry, this doesn't suit me. Maybe there are more options?

  2. JoJogal

    It is remarkable, the useful message

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