A runner asked me the other day “when will I stop breathing heavy while running.” I am not sure I answered it well enough so I figured a blog post may help.
Short Answer: Never
Long Answer: Never
Life Answer: Depends on your goals
I see the answer as a multifaceted approach to how you currently are as a runner and where you are looking to be. Getting out of breath is hardly a bad thing (note: unless you have a medical issue then go and get it checked out) but something that needs to happen in order to not get out of breath later on. A few of my previous articles tend to focus on paces and goal, which is where the answer to this question lies.
Let's say that you are running to have fun, socialize and get a good workout in, well then you may become out of breath or you may not. This would depend on maybe running with some faster friends, or joining their workout. Your goal is to just have fun and roll with the run as it unfolds.
Now say you are training for a race, or have a specific goal in mind. Becoming out of breath here will always happen no matter what shape you are in. The key is how RELATIVE it is between two different runners. Workouts do not necessarily become easier the faster you become, they just become faster; but you are still giving 100% in the moment. At the same time you also recover faster, which means you may appear not out of breath but if you are using being out of breath as a measure of improvement it is going to be very hard to judge it appropriately.
Out of breath should be something you expect to happen when certain runs are on the daily goal list. Hill workouts for example, depending on how hard they are suppose to be, should make you out of breath. Whether it takes you 60 seconds or 55 seconds 2 weeks later because you are faster; being out of breath still happens. An Easy/Recovery run, for example, should not make you out of breath, done at a conversation pace and slower than normal you should finish feeling strong and in control.
Type of Run: Out Of Breath:
Easy/Recovery Run: No; your pace is to fast if you do
Long Run: No; might increase at end, but ideally no
Tempo Runs: Probably; will build, depends on tempo setup
Hills: Most likely; will build as the workout unfolds
Strength: Probably; at end of workout, but nothing too intense
Speed: Yes; will build as the workout unfolds
What it boils down too is you need to know your goals, goals for the day, week, month, year, etc. This will allow you to go out and perform as you are capable today and build to what you are capable in the future. If you are unsure of your current paces and what they should be building to in the future please ask.