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Need help building breath

Old 08-08-14, 08:15 PM
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Need help building breath

So here's the story, I've been steadily increasing my travel distance from 1.7 miles to 11 miles. Yay me, but the problem I keep encountering is that my 'breath' gives out before my legs do. Apparently I have the legs of a behemoth because the only times I feel my legs tire out are on steep inclines and when I run on too high a gear for too long. My question is are there any exercises I can do to build my breath in addition to what I'm already doing.
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Old 08-08-14, 08:22 PM
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Sounds like you're doing great! Hang in there and keep riding, it will come. Don't be afraid to take breaks, you're cardio vascular system recovers very quickly.
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Old 08-08-14, 08:30 PM
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Isn't there a name for that? Dyspnea? Let me google that for you.
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Old 08-08-14, 08:49 PM
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I'm reading that you can currently ride 11 miles at a go. You are still in the base building phase of cycling. Keep doing what you are doing. Maybe once a week find a comfortable gear then shift to one gear easier and pedal faster. As you train your legs to pedal faster you will be working your cardiovascular system more. Keep doing this and at some point you might go twice a week, then three times. When you build up to a longer ride it might be time to add High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. buy going as fast as you can for a minute or more then rest a couple of minutes. do this 5 times, rest 5 or so minutes then repeat. Over time increase the time for hard and reduce the time for rest and increase the number. This will increase your ability to breathe. The idea is to train your body to maximize use of available oxygen.
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Old 08-09-14, 06:20 AM
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I just bought "The cyclists training bible" the introduction underscored an important point.
Have a good medical checkup if you are just joining a strenuous lifestyle.

I hate to say that there could be a medical issue but shortness of breathe could be serious.

Bill
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Old 08-09-14, 06:59 AM
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There's probably no mystery here, you're just unfit. Keep cycling. As a rule of thumb, low gear/high cadence will get you breathing heavily, high gear/low cadence will reduce the stress on your heart and lungs and tend to tire your legs.

As you get fitter, your cardiovascular fitness will increase. Longer rides at a pace that has you breathing deeply, but not gasping for breath, will improve your aerobic apacity over time.
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Old 08-09-14, 07:09 AM
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Dyspnea refers to difficulty breathing. I agree that anyone looking at making big changes in their physical activity get a check up to make sure their aren't any issues that need to be addressed medically.

From what the OP described, it sounds to me more like a cardio/respiratory conditioning issue, but it never hurts to be on the safe side.

Preferably with your physician's blessing, interval training is one of the most effective ways to develop cardio/respiratory capacity. Long, steady rides will build cardio endurance as well as burning calories, but to increase capacity you need to push yourself incrementally. You don't have to knock yourself out with HIIT style training to see benefit. Start with your usual ride (OP sounds like around 10 miles) and add a one-minute sprint at 80+% of your max (breathing hard enough you could only talk in short phrases between breaths) every 2.5 miles. Other variations include hill repeats and wind sprints. I like winds sprints as we don't have much for hills in my immediate area. On a fairly windy day, find a straight stretch of road that will have you facing straight into the wind. Ride hard into the wind at a pace that has you breathing hard but not feeling like you are going to pass out. Turn around and spin with the wind at a pace that allows you to be breathing normally by the time you reach your starting point. Repeat 3-5 times when you are just starting out.

It is important to progress incrementally and get plenty of rest and recovery in between sessions. I recommend interval training no more than 3x week with at least one day between sessions.
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Old 08-09-14, 07:25 AM
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I agree with Black Walnut. You are still in your base building phase so the lungs and legs should be fine
once you get a good base in (usually considered to be 1000 miles).

Charlie
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Old 08-09-14, 07:57 AM
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Put on a heart monitor. If you're in the "safe" range keep pushing on by altering your cadence a bit--you'll get a second wind by slowing down your rpm.

IMO, breath stamina will come with time.
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Old 08-09-14, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by GravelMN
Dyspnea refers to difficulty breathing. I agree that anyone looking at making big changes in their physical activity get a check up to make sure their aren't any issues that need to be addressed medically.

From what the OP described, it sounds to me more like a cardio/respiratory conditioning issue, but it never hurts to be on the safe side.

Preferably with your physician's blessing, interval training is one of the most effective ways to develop cardio/respiratory capacity. Long, steady rides will build cardio endurance as well as burning calories, but to increase capacity you need to push yourself incrementally. You don't have to knock yourself out with HIIT style training to see benefit. Start with your usual ride (OP sounds like around 10 miles) and add a one-minute sprint at 80+% of your max (breathing hard enough you could only talk in short phrases between breaths) every 2.5 miles. Other variations include hill repeats and wind sprints. I like winds sprints as we don't have much for hills in my immediate area. On a fairly windy day, find a straight stretch of road that will have you facing straight into the wind. Ride hard into the wind at a pace that has you breathing hard but not feeling like you are going to pass out. Turn around and spin with the wind at a pace that allows you to be breathing normally by the time you reach your starting point. Repeat 3-5 times when you are just starting out.

It is important to progress incrementally and get plenty of rest and recovery in between sessions. I recommend interval training no more than 3x week with at least one day between sessions.
Depending on how the roads are laid out in our area (much if ours is a nice 1 mile grid square) you can do this creatively and build it into a ride, if the wind is from the West ride 1-2 miles west, then 1-2 miles with the wind at your side, then again more west, then again with it on the side. Years ago when I had a road bike which really did not have enough low gear I was riding on a VERY windy day, and I was an an equal number of miles E and W from home, so I was able to do exactly this to not have to drive into the wind for longer than I was able to keep cadence up in my lowest gear.
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Old 08-09-14, 08:48 AM
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Just the mental attitude to go from 1.7 to 11 miles shows you are really doing good. Lots of good advice already given so I won't go into that much. However, one thing not mentioned is that it takes a lot of us 2 miles to warm up, and 4 miles to get into the grove. As an example, if I push myself for the first mile or two, I'm going to be burnt at 10 miles and not having fun, so I have to pace myself (using a hrm helps) the first 4 miles before I start pushing.

* get a checkup right away to make sure you can train the way you want.
* get a heart rate monitor. helps you pace and can help you train your breathing to control your heart rate somewhat. (deep breaths, no panting)
* 2 mile easy warm up ride, just poodle around and enjoy the ride.
* increase you cadence so you are spinning fast without bouncing or pushing on the pedals. Cadence meter will show in the 90's or higher if you have one.
* stand in a higher gear once in a while for just a very short time (like one minute or until uncomfortable) for a different set of muscles and breathing hard.
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Old 08-09-14, 09:15 AM
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Also to share part of my story I did not just hop on the bike two months ago, I DID but I had been walking 5k or more a day, up to 10k now and then, so I had that CV base to build on :-). Riding is tons easier on the knees :-)
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Old 08-09-14, 12:07 PM
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I am feeling this too. Our legs have supported us with our extra weight but our lungs haven't had to do any heavy lifting. Keep pedaling.
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Old 08-09-14, 06:28 PM
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Thanks for the advice folks. I never thought it was an unhealthy breathing problem I assumed it just came with the territory. I'm going to look into finding a good heart rate monitor and look into interval training.
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Old 08-09-14, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Biblio
Thanks for the advice folks. I never thought it was an unhealthy breathing problem I assumed it just came with the territory. I'm going to look into finding a good heart rate monitor and look into interval training.
Well if you line up ten of us the same height/weight you would probably have ten different fitness levels depending on vocation and hobbies :-).
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Old 08-09-14, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Biblio
........ I'm going to look into finding a good heart rate monitor and look into interval training.
Even high school kids have to get a doctors exam [and permission] to practice school sports. When I returned to cycling this last time I had a check-up first. And the doctor thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to wear a monitor for a while... just to be safe. I cheaped-out with a $25 watch-monitor.

I was overweight and had just quit smoking [after 35 years]. I hadn't been what would be called "active". I had breathing issues! But not nearly as serious as you describe.

Be careful. Pushing too hard... doing too much too soon is very common with beginners in most sports/actives. Beginner injuries are all TOO common as well. If you are experiencing Dyspnea you could do some serious damage to yourself.
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Old 08-10-14, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Biblio
Thanks for the advice folks. I never thought it was an unhealthy breathing problem I assumed it just came with the territory. I'm going to look into finding a good heart rate monitor and look into interval training.
I just got the Wahoo Tickr which works with smart phones. The Wahoo Fitness app is pretty good. I am working on building a better base.
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Old 08-10-14, 07:25 AM
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Your HRM will help you understand what your body is doing as you push it, so a great idea to have one. You might find that when you think you are at your limit, you still have a bit to go. It will give you a great idea of how quickly you recover from the hard pushes, either through a sprint or tackling a hill. You'll get an idea of when to start backing out of your effort so that you can build your consistency.

Kudos on your efforts so far, BTW! Be safe and keep up the great work.
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Old 08-10-14, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by linnefaulk
I just got the Wahoo Tickr which works with smart phones. The Wahoo Fitness app is pretty good. I am working on building a better base.
I got one a couple weeks ago too :-)....the Ap is pretty cool, I also run cyclemeter and strava in the background, I have nearly every ride since June 1 logged in Cyclemeter :-).
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Old 08-11-14, 01:44 PM
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mix in some walking? hiking a level flat nature trail and try increasing your speed ever so slightly each time you do it. for more precision try a HS track. lots of ppl near me use the HS track for walking, jogging, etc
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Old 08-12-14, 02:47 PM
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I am overweight and I have asthma. My lungs are the week spot, they give out before my legs. I can cycle a century and ride 17-18 mph for hours on end. As soon as there are hills, or the speed picks up to 19-20 mph, my breathing becomes labored. You are doing great. I wouldn't worry about intervals or training until you can ride 20-30 miles. When I get out of breath, I slow down, or coast. If I am climbing a hill, I stop for 30-60 seconds. (Take your phone, and say "I'm taking a picture" - I learned that line on Ride the Rockies.) I don't have to walk mountains, but I do have to stop to breathe. I have to stop to breathe when I am walking if it is humid, or cold outside, it is not always a matter of fitness. I do use my heart rate monitor when I am in a spinning class, or out on hill training. It is so I will stop before my asthma kicks in. When you start breathing too fast, try to take slower breaths and think about your breathing. I count when I am trying to rein in my breathing. Great job, keep it up. Remember it never gets easier, you just get faster and go longer.
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Old 08-12-14, 02:57 PM
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You have already gotten some good advice but I'll say that intervals have helped my lungs. Going all out for short bursts really hits my lungs even when my legs can still give more. Similar to you my legs are not my limiting factor, my lungs are.
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Old 08-13-14, 08:50 AM
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Before bed, practice your breathing. It will help you relax and build your lungs. I suggest reading a bit on how to do this. In short: Take three deep breaths, hold your breath as long as you can. Exhale slowly, very slowly. Breath regular for 15-30 seconds and repeat at least two more times.
You can do this during the day but make sure you are sitting or lying down.
Go read a bit on how to do this first so you don't pass out and give yourself a headrush.
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Old 08-13-14, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by thrllskr
Before bed, practice your breathing. It will help you relax and build your lungs. I suggest reading a bit on how to do this. In short: Take three deep breaths, hold your breath as long as you can. Exhale slowly, very slowly. Breath regular for 15-30 seconds and repeat at least two more times.
You can do this during the day but make sure you are sitting or lying down.
Go read a bit on how to do this first so you don't pass out and give yourself a headrush.
I've never heard of this, very interesting.
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Old 08-13-14, 12:33 PM
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Make sure you have low enough gears so you can spin (pedal fast) as opposed to mash (bigger gears, lower cadence ) Cross train? Do you like to swim? Just keep pedaling. Try some long, slow distance on the bike, not maxing out your heart rate.
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