Breathlessness in Running (Part 2)

Breathlessness in Running (Part 2)


If you keen and have queries, please contact Coach Rameshon at 9100 4369 or you can email him at or Please refer to website (for more information on him and his programmes)

Written By Rameshon

Bsc (Hons) Degree in Physical Education, Loughborough University (1992-1994)

Masters in Education (University of Western Australia, 2005-2008)

Use knowledge, not ignorance to answer. 

One person wrote very recently on something on Singapore being a materialist country where there are people, who are rich, who don’t exercise and they go to breathlessness state. This shows how ignorant the statement was. As a reasonable fit person, in the past, when I was young, at about 16 years of age, we use to reach the Northern Route 3.5km in 13min plus for our easy run before completing 10km. I was going easy running with my running group, and experience breathlessness, and it made running displeasurable, and I wanted to breath easy. I did not know what to do at that time. However, if one sees it carefully, actually, the easy run pace was actually a moderate intensity to hard run, instead as I am aware now, although it looked easy. The sustainability of the run will be curtailed so long there is breathlessness. I wanted to abandon the run when I experienced breathlessness

Lesson learnt from Personal Training – A Case Study

Once I was testing the heart rate of two children as the mother wanted them to train under me, during their school holidays. I asked the two girls to walk for 5min at a similar speed and I took their heart rate.

At every 5min splits, I took the heart rate again. Both of them had the same heart rate as the work rate intensity progressed, gradually. However, after some time, the younger girl was having a very high heart rate even while walking slowly. I thought she was lazy and did not want to put in the effort. The older girl was having a lowered heart rate as compared to the younger sister. Both were not that fit, but the older one was a bit more fitter. Although the younger girl was going much slower, as compared to the older girl, after about 20min, determining the effort from heart rate, it was found that at even 5km per hour, the younger girl was going through a laboured breathing. It was an eye-opener for me. It was confirmed scientifically that the younger girl was going through breathlessness. The mother may have thought, “Why this girl is very slow?” In actual fact, the younger girl was giving an all out performance, which the mother did not know, which I also did not know, at first. In truth and honesty, she was working very hard, instead!

By checking the heart rate, I realised that the younger girl was nearly exercising to her maximum, although she appeared lazy. It was literally sprinting all the way for her.

So, it is important to solve this. How to solve? Simple, it is good to inform her to go 4km per hour leisurely walk, as it does not involve laboured breathing, where the ventilatory threshold is such that she can go on for a much longer time to exercise, about 40min to an hour, or even two hours. This can lead one to successfully complete a fruitful and beneficial activity and gets one much fitter over time.

I told the mother that if she does 7 km per hr, she will not enjoy the activity at all, and the activity may last for a minute. That is why, I found that many kids, out there, do not want to exercise as the kids are actually putting the best, but the parents because of being ignorant, they tell them to put in more effort, and in fact scold them literally, citing attitude problem on part of the child. The younger girl’s heart rate showed 100% effort for 5km/hr walk. So, at 4km per hour, she did not experience breathlessness, and activity was thus done for a prolonged period and it was successful.

How about the 3.5km northern route in 13min plus before completing the 10km run, that I did when I was a 16-year-old athlete? I used to go through breathlessness, so what I should have done. It is very easy. All I had to do is to go at a speed of 5min 30sec to 6min per km, instead of 4min 30sec per km pace.

Before doing 2hr 24min 22sec for SEA Games Marathon 1995, at Thailand, I have done 4min per km pace in northern route with a guy called Krishnan for 10km, and there was no breathlessness. That was when I was very fit! My heart rate showed that I was also going at a very easy pace for my endurance runs.

So, it is simple to understand. If one experiences some kind of breathlessness, all one needs to do is go a bit slower, 2 – 3 %. Why is there a problem of not wanting to slower? If you see the environment having people running fast, one can be duped thinking that to run properly, one has to go faster. It is not necessary! My advice is to ignore the environment. The mantra is to go slower, and this leads one to not push hard, such the bones are not taxed and to enable oneself not to get injured. This leads one to be very consistent in training, which is a mantra of success to perform well in the long run.



By Narayanan
Rameshon has taught in Hwa Chong Institution, plus several schools, and Republic Polytechnic as well. He has won many accolades and he was awarded Merit Award for 1991 marathon performance in breaking the national record of Singapore, at that time. He has made 22 male athletes do the marathon in sub-3hrs. He has made 7 female runners do sub-4 hours for the marathon, as well. He was inducted to the ‘Roll of Honour’  by the then College of Physical Education, organised by Singapore Olympic Academy, in 1998, for breaking the National record repeatedly 4 times, till he did 2hr 24min 22sec).

He also has a Coaching group and he trains them on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7pm at Botanic Gardens. Those interested can call him at 91004369 for coaching assistance, to improve performance. There is also personal training that he does for many in a week. You can e-mail him at

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