Breathlessness in Running

Breathlessness in Running


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)

It is the same when the work rate goes up, oxygen consumption goes up, the higher it leads to breathlessness or laboured breathing if we describe scientifically.

It recently dawned upon me at the age of 52 about breathlessness, as to how to answer appropriately, as those who have been doing personal training with me, some of them, have been complaining about this again and again. I did not have the correct or appropriate answer for this, at first. I was also looking for it and several people out there were curious about this answer. My answer using experience is to train frequently and breathlessness complaint will vanish soon. 

However, as I can remember, in the past, when a group of us from Swift Club, went for a morning run at MacRitchie Reservoir while running at Northern Route, I was going through this thing called breathlessness. I was wondering,” How is it that I go through this breathlessness although I am running easy.” To this, I did not have any answer then. 

So, that means if you are unfit, one will go through breathlessness. A fit athlete may also go through breathlessness at some point of time in their life. Simply said, all somehow find that they go through a state called breathlessness in running. 

In Loughborough University, I was told about laboured breathing, a physiology term, which is actually about breathlessness that one goes at a certain speed. Our former lecturer Dr Hardman, told us that if one is not exercising, usually they do not go through breathlessness. From leisurely walk, if one walks a bit briskly, it is obvious that one will have to take in more air, and more air means we need to take more oxygen. Mr Dave Williams, my former supervisor for research, during my degree programme at Loughborough, told us that if work rate increases, from a jog to an easy run, one will go through an experience called increased oxygen uptake. If still, one starts to go faster, one will go through the experience called laboured breathing, where the oxygen demand is greater than the carbon dioxide being expired out of our respiratory system.

Scientists have proven that laboured breathing, increased lactate in the body and increased heart rate work corresponds at the same time. Usually, coaches use one of the three methods to excel in sports. However, many coaches use heart rate as it is easily applicable, unlike laboured breathing as the gas expired can only be deduced only by using gas analysis and there is a need for the laboratory to do it. It is quite complex but it is specific as one will know how much oxygen was used. For lactate, one needs to do the invasive method, use injections to take out some blood at the venous vein or using the finger to extract some blood, using the finger prick test.

I have told about the three ways to train for performance using laboured breathing, lactic acid method system and heart rate method. For easy understanding, it is wise for any to know that if one goes through breathlessness during the easy run, it means they are a bit faster. Even when one is running slow, I have noticed, and am surprised that some of them complaining about breathlessness and this has been a very hot topic as nearly all personal training client say about the same thing – breathlessness. That is one of the reasons for taking the personal training programme, besides wanting to change posture, technique, running and walking gait. 

So, What is the easiest method to solve this, especially when one runs slow? My best answer to this, with the dawn of knowledge, recently, through experience is to run another few per cent slower.  Try it! This is the answer where I do not have anyone finding breathlessness as a problem. No more questions asked recently. The same answer goes for any runner out there training, whether one is fit or not. The fit may think, “I am not talented in this sport and I think running is not for me.” It is imaginary. For a start, when one train, it is wise to train without breathlessness. I hope that I have helped those seeking this answer, as this is a frequently asked question and the majority have asked me.



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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