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  1. #1
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    Help!, I don't know how to breathe correctly.

    I have to be doing something wrong. Not that I was ever much into running, but when I used to go for run back in the day, I remember finding a rhythm with my breathe, and that the exhale was somewhat forceful.

    Breathing on the bike seems to be completely different. As long as the effort isn't anaerobic, I never seem to find a rhythm, nor does my system feel like it its searching for air. Exhaling never feels any more intense than the inhale.

    Even during harder efforts, like taking a long pull that blows me up... my muscles will build with lactic acid and shut down before the heavy breathing starts. The only time I really breathe heavy is after sprinting.

    What am I doing wrong?

    background fitness - Cat3 rider, logged 6k miles last year. 35 years old. 2012 will be my 3rd year racing. Still lots to learn!
    Last edited by carleton; 02-21-12 at 08:42 AM. Reason: Every thread is a thread. No need to add "thread" to the title. Also, not sure why you used quotes.

  2. #2
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexp247365 View Post
    Even during harder efforts, like taking a long pull that blows me up... my muscles will build with lactic acid and shut down before the heavy breathing starts. The only time I really breathe heavy is after sprinting.
    My bet is that it isn't your breathing; it's your gearing. The old saw is legs hurt gear down, lungs hurt gear up. If you're frying your legs before you're breathing really hard raise your cadence.

    As for breathing, my personal opinion is that the body's pretty good at that without a lot of conscious thought.

    Only piece of breathing advise that seemed to make any difference for me is to make sure you fully exhale, and the body will take care of the inhale.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  3. #3
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    Interesting adage Merlin. In our computrainer class, we do spin-ups. Usually 100 cadence for a minute, 110 for the next minute, 120 the following minute. Next set is 110/120/130. Still not breathing in any type of measured rhythm, but heart-rate seems to jump close to FTP HR.

    Normal cadence on the road is probably closer to 95. This year has me totally confused in that my cadence seems to have gone up quite a bit, but my muscles are fatiguing instead of my breathing. I just can't seem to 'turn up the cadence' in a way that forces my lungs to do the work WITHOUT cooking the legs at the same time.

    My training has been touch and go with base this year. Knocked out two century rides in December, Some 60 milers over the last few weeks. but not the steady z2 on the trainer like the previous year. I wonder if that has had any effect.

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    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    And I will add to that. Research 'belly breathing'
    It was explained to me years ago by a former teammate (Olympian,Pro,Beast) - and then look at pros while climbing or tt'ing - you will see how big their gut looks.
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

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    I'll pay more attention to the diaphragm breathing part, and try to tie it into breathe-play that I've been reading on. Do you guys feel that you're forcefully exhaling during sustained efforts? Any time I've tried to force a rhythm with my breathing on the trainer, I just get light-headed.

    I was a smoker for 15 years, and this June will be 3 years smoke free.

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    Another issue to mention is that I seem to have an impossible time breathing through my nose. Maybe once every few months, it seems that both nasal passages are 'open' and I can take oxygen in through both at the same time. Mostly one nasal passage is always shut. I've thought this might be an issue, but never investigated. However, my sleep is also effected by this lack of breathing it seems.

  7. #7
    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexp247365 View Post
    Another issue to mention is that I seem to have an impossible time breathing through my nose. Maybe once every few months, it seems that both nasal passages are 'open' and I can take oxygen in through both at the same time. Mostly one nasal passage is always shut. I've thought this might be an issue, but never investigated. However, my sleep is also effected by this lack of breathing it seems.
    How long ago did you break your nose?
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

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    Never broken. Not that I'm aware of.

  9. #9
    Draught jwible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexp247365 View Post
    I'll pay more attention to the diaphragm breathing part, and try to tie it into breathe-play that I've been reading on. Do you guys feel that you're forcefully exhaling during sustained efforts? Any time I've tried to force a rhythm with my breathing on the trainer, I just get light-headed.

    I was a smoker for 15 years, and this June will be 3 years smoke free.
    Congrats on that first and foremost.

    If you've ever seen lung tissue up close and personal you'll realize how much like a sponge it is. When I researched breathing techniques I found one analogy that stuck with me and seemed to help. Treat your lungs like they're sponges. Exhaling is squeezing them out. Try to exhale so much that you feel it at your back. Squeeze as much old air our as you can to make room for the new air. Also if you know any swimmers ask them about breathing. Those folks probably have best handle on how to get the most out of each breath.

  10. #10
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I think that practicing yoga-style breathing (pranayama) can be helpful with that. But ease into it (or with abdominal/diaphram breathing) if you combine with physical exertion or you may become nauseated or hyperventilate.

  11. #11
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    I've just started paying more attention to this. if nothing else, I find that focusing on breathing correctly takes my mind of the interval, and in turn I become more efficient.

    2 in, 3 out. That is, inhale for a 2 count, and then exhale for a 3 count. Depending on how hard you're going and oxygen needs, they could be fast counts or not. I haven't seen science confirming this, but I believe the reason is that your body will not fully utilize the oxygen you pulled in before you exhale it, so you can afford to make the exhaling portion longer than the inhaling portion of the cycle.

    Belly breathing is also very important, as mentioned before. Your diaphragm will be able to pull air in much better than you will by expanding your chest, but you have to train it because breathing with it is not something we normally think about doing. Focus on pulling air into the bottom third of your lungs while keeping your shoulders relaxed.

    Hope some of this helps.

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    Going to schedule an appointment with an ENT just to make sure everything is working. Thank you all for the suggestions. If any unusual news should develop regarding the ENT, I'll let ya know.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    I only focus on breathing during maximal TT or climbing efforts. I have a weird theory though about your problem... In running, you can time your breathing with your leg cadence. It's harder to do that on a bicycle since the cadence is 50% higher than running and more variable. During hard efforts, time your breathing by a clock (one breath a second, for instance) rather than on anything your lower body is doing.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Nate552's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkwaki View Post
    And I will add to that. Research 'belly breathing'
    It was explained to me years ago by a former teammate (Olympian,Pro,Beast) - and then look at pros while climbing or tt'ing - you will see how big their gut looks.
    Donuts? Or Belly Breathing?



    Also, no harm in seeing an ENT. I did recently for chronic nose bleeds and while I was there he told me I had a deviated septum. But, since I don't have any breathing issues, like snoring, we decided to leave it alone.

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    Senior Member Kadowaki's Avatar
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    No harm to see an ENT. However, I have had my septum straightened due to obstruction after a remote fracture and found out it is normal to only breathe out one nares at a time. I think that nasal breathing during exertion has a minimal input to air exchange.
    Regarding forceful breathing on exhale, I found out at age 48 that I have exercise induced asthma. Got an inhaler and what a difference that makes.
    Regarding the original post I think it was answered early on: balance legs and lungs/heart with cadence/shifting. As a runner you have a good cardiovascular system. However, exercise is very specific. Your legs should have adapted by now (3 years) so its a matter of balancing between legs and lungs.

  16. #16
    ride lots be safe Creakyknees's Avatar
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    I do cadence timing, but it's variable... for example, inhale for 3 revs, exhale for 2 (or, whatever, it's just an example). The important thing is that rhythmic breathing does help; just, on a bike, the rhythm varies now and then.

    I have mental cues, too. Such as, pretend there's a string attached to the crown of your head and it's pulling your spine straight. Open up that diaphragm.
    When riders get "on the limit" we tend to tense up, crunch up... be aware of that. Constantly re-checking your position, your breathing.

    Another tip: once in a while, exhale thru your nose (snot permitting, of course). Also once in a while, inhale thru your nose.

    Finally: don't be afraid to really breath, big hard fast lungfuls. I think you'll find you can maintain a higher pace for a longer time if you allow your lungs to really work and exchange a large volume of air.
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    The Balance legs/vs lungs seems off this year compared to last year. I'm gonna do some tests tonight and see if maybe I just need a seriously higher cadence to get the lungs working (100+ sustained for 5-10 minutes) I've been throwing around the exercise induced asthma for a while as well. Its very frustrating to eat right, get 8 hours of sleep a night, and always feel like you have no energy.

  18. #18
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Ben Stone, the physiologist that works with my team, believes in breathing more rapidly, and with a forceful exhale. Here is his blog entry on the topic.

    http://www.sigmacoaching.com/the-imp...-of-breathing/

    He claims that athletes of his have generated significant increases in power, during tests, by increasing their respiratory rate alone. Others on this forum have presented studies which say that increasing the breathing rate uses more energy, and has a negative overall impact. I lean towards Dr. Stone, in part because I don't see how faster breathing is going to take energy from my legs, which is what will give out as I go anaerobic. But I confess I haven't yet read all the studies that were referenced in the other thread, and that Ben's data is anecdotal.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  19. #19
    Senior Member agoodale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Ben Stone, the physiologist that works with my team, believes in breathing more rapidly, and with a forceful exhale. Here is his blog entry on the topic.

    http://www.sigmacoaching.com/the-imp...-of-breathing/

    He claims that athletes of his have generated significant increases in power, during tests, by increasing their respiratory rate alone. Others on this forum have presented studies which say that increasing the breathing rate uses more energy, and has a negative overall impact. I lean towards Dr. Stone, in part because I don't see how faster breathing is going to take energy from my legs, which is what will give out as I go anaerobic. But I confess I haven't yet read all the studies that were referenced in the other thread, and that Ben's data is anecdotal.
    Funny but that type of breathing is exactly what happens to me, an asthmatic. If you've lived with asthma for a long time you can form a habit of starting to hyperventilate at the first hint of not being able to catch your breath. That becomes counter productive. Lately I've been following some advice to inhale & exhale through my nose when possible to slow down the process. Seems to work for me.

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    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    I have problems with breathing too fast too. I never thought that it might be from asthma.

    I have to breathe through my mouth unless I'm on a very easy ride. So when I start breathing too fast I just think about relaxing and breathing more deeply instead of faster.

    At one point I trained myself to synchronize my breathing with my pedaling, because I read somewhere that it was a good idea. It turns out it's not so good for me. It took a lot longer to unlearn it.

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    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    I'm also asthmatic with horrible allergies, so I often focus on my breathing and I spent a good portion of the fall working on breathing only through my nose - which often proved a challenge.

    To help breathe out of my nose, I regularly use nasal flushes. It helps keep my nasal passages open. It's a really uncomfortable process at first, but I got used to it. I also will use Afrin before big rides/races to open things up.

  22. #22
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    What makes a given respiratory rate "too fast" during heavy exertion?
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

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    I woke up last night an hour and a half after going to bed with both nostrils completely closed and unable to breathe through my nose. It took some sinex decongestant nasil spray to open them up again (along with opening up the bedroom window.) We have an April air machine hooked up to the AC so I'd hope the issue isn't moisture related.

    ENT appointment is next Wednesday. My team-mates have said in the past that they always knew i was behind them because of my hacking and snot rockets. I'm guessing this is a compounded breathing problem of some form of sleep apnea combined with exercise induced asthma with not knowing how to breathe on the bike. All of this to resolve and only 6 weeks left till race season starts here in Minnesota.

    Even with 8 hours of sleep a night, the bags are starting to form under the eyes.. grrrrrr.

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    Good article on breathing AzTallRider. Will try to apply it to my computrainer class workout tonight.

  25. #25
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexp247365 View Post
    I was a smoker for 15 years, and this June will be 3 years smoke free.
    Quote Originally Posted by alexp247365 View Post
    My team-mates have said in the past that they always knew i was behind them because of my hacking and snot rockets. I'm guessing this is a compounded breathing problem of some form of sleep apnea combined with exercise induced asthma with not knowing how to breathe on the bike.
    I think you're overlooking an obvious explanation.

    And unfortuantely, the lung damage that results in breathing difficulty doesn't go away from quitting.

    You can avoid doing further damage by not smoking, and you can compensate by training, but the damage is not reversible.


    http://www.health.com/health/conditi...267010,00.html
    Last edited by merlinextraligh; 02-22-12 at 11:40 AM.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

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