Old 11-04-16, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Buckeye Bob View Post
1) Concentrate on my breathing. Get as much oxygen as I can into my lungs. AND breath out as much possible. I found myself when I am close to going into the "red" that I tend to not breath out enough and then I can't breath in as much. In my opinion if you want to climb hills well you have to control your breathing.

2) I try to sit tall to allow my lungs to expand as much as possible. Don't know if it really makes a difference but it makes a difference to me mentally.
This is something you kind of learn SCUBA diving of all places, especially with the older style gear that vented back by the regulator on the tank. When your body is stressed your breathing speeds up, but under most circumstances it's the wrong response because the shallower you breathe the less "used" air you're forcing out and that means less space for new, higher oxygen air to come in. With the old SCUBA regulators the long hoses acted as an extension of your bronchial tubes making it even worse.

By breathing deeply, you increase the oxygen you have available. You end up shifting around where different metabolic processes happen. You have two options once you start getting to that point where the O2 you bring in starts to balance out the O2 used - you can get a little more air and move that goalpost out or you can lower your effort. On flat ground it's easy to do the latter. On a hill there's a limit before you stop fighting gravity. Good posture, open up your shoulders, and breathe deeply, especially out. Make use of that diaphragm!

Since you're fighting your body's natural response it takes practice. Unfortunately, it is really (really really) hard to keep yourself working hard enough on flat ground to do this, so hills (or a trainer with a lot of resistance) are normally the only place to work on this skill. If your body doesn't need so much oxygen you'll hyperventilate and that's not good either, so you need to be in a bad place where you need all that extra O2. That's one of the reasons hills and hill repeats are so helpful. If your technique is off you stand to make big gains just from learning to breathe in different conditions - at least while your legs are stronger than your heart and lungs, but your legs catch up quickly if your heart and lungs can push them once in a while.

Hills cause suffering when you're a clyde, but you can minimize it. That makes all riding easier - it's not just for people who want to go out and hammer away. Making hills less of a chore makes JRA rides better because the hard parts are less likely to give you those negative feelings that can drag down the rest of the ride. You can't enjoy your descents (gravity loves clydes! the earth wants us close to her), if you're in a group you feel like you're making people wait too long, all that stuff that kicking yourself mentally really exaggerates in your head.

And, yeah, going into a hill afraid is making things more difficult. You've already defeated yourself at the bottom. I have one hill that's like this for me. It's steep, yeah, but it's very short compared to other hills I go up semi-regularly, and less steep than a number of them. Not sure why - it might be because it is dead flat up to the bottom, or it might be because it's used in the last stage of our big local pro race and it DNFs 70% of remaining riders pretty much every year. Probably that, it's kind of mythical around here.
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