Running out of breath...

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Running out of breath...

Postby ej132 » April 2nd, 2018, 1:27 pm

Hey all,
Been mountain biking for a total of six years, had been doing a ton of riding but last couple years some things have prevented me from mountain biking but been road biking. Now trying to get back at mountain biking but I keep feeling like my big limitation now is running out of air. I start up a difficult part like a hill climb and I feel like I run out of breath before I run out of muscle strength or endurance. Is this something that usually gets better or is there something I can do to get my breath back up to higher endurance? Thanks
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby c0nsumer » April 2nd, 2018, 1:40 pm

Do much longer steady state rides at lower effort. You are probably just trying to ride hard without having a sufficient base.

Look into defining your heart rate zones, then doing extended duration rides in zone 2 and you'll build a ton of endurance. Road biking is great for this, but you can't just pedal and go, you have to put in some effort to build the needed base.

Or, just go do long rides at an effort that's just slightly difficult to carry on a conversation. That's probably right on the edge of Zone 2/3. Start with an hour, work up to 2 or 3. By then you'll have a good base and feel better on short/hard efforts. Cycling -- even mountain biking -- is as much about cardio fitness as muscular.
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby ej132 » April 2nd, 2018, 1:52 pm

Thank you, thats my plan right now, keep building back up, right now 7 miles is feeling like a long ride but gonna keep doing that and hopefully build quickly
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby bender16v » April 2nd, 2018, 2:02 pm

I struggle with this too. On my gravel bike I run out of legs and on my mountain bikes I run out of lungs. I've only been riding for a couple of years and it hasn't gotten too much better but I have gotten faster. I have read about breathing exercises to increase lung capacity but I haven't tried any of them. I should follow c0nsumer's advice but my riding time is limited so when I do get out there I overdo it.
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby jmf003 » April 2nd, 2018, 3:50 pm

One of the most time efficient ways to improve both aerobic fitness and leg strength is interval training. You can follow a set plan or make your own. One of my typical sessions is to hammer hill climbs with a max effort then cruise in between to get my heart rate back down.
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby michiganclydesdale » April 2nd, 2018, 7:08 pm

bender16v wrote:I struggle with this too. On my gravel bike I run out of legs and on my mountain bikes I run out of lungs. I've only been riding for a couple of years and it hasn't gotten too much better but I have gotten faster.


To quote Greg LeMond "it never get's any easier, you just go faster" or something like that. True at all levels
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby b_b » April 2nd, 2018, 7:34 pm

I think there's no substitute for climbing on the bike and the best way to get better is by doing it more so just work your way up steadily it's still early. No matter how much I've done off season always takes some time to get my climbing lungs and legs. Can work on this before trails are clear just find some gravel or road hills. Go hard up the hill then recover. Repeat. :)
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby RazBarry_KB » April 3rd, 2018, 8:17 am

This may sound stupid, but does it feel like you have exercise-induced asthma? Or maybe allergies? Both can leave you with the feeling of running out of air, especially when you are climbing.

I used to have problems with exercise-induced asthma when I was fairly young. Most of the time I could manage without my inhaler, and I also think that spending time in chlorine filled natatoriums for long periods of time didn't help. Fast forward to now, I can't ride or do any sort of activity with heavy breathing in the cold without breathing through a buff or something similar. The cold air leaves me breathless, and it seems that this has been getting worse each winter I ride.

If it's not related to either allergies or asthma, climbing will get better. In the spring, it's the worst. You may even develop what I like to call a "spring cough." You know that phlegm-y/crackly dry cough you get after a ride in the early spring after you come out of hibernation? This is the first spring I haven't had one (thank you to my new smart trainer which kept me spinning through the winter). I was at Yankee a few weeks ago chuckling to myself listening to another rider coughing relentlessly after he finished riding, and kind of being proud that I didn't have one.

Best advice I've taken and heard is to not stop at the top of the climbs. Keep pedaling, no matter how slow, and you'll start to get better/have shorter recovery time each time you climb a good hill. I tend to do more endurance type rides so I always load my cardio more than my legs, so I last on long rides. What I really need to work on is going hard up hills, especially those punchy ones I tend to loathe.
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby Dirtdevil » April 3rd, 2018, 12:13 pm

I suffer from exercise induced asthma & it sucks. Usually starts around May & continues through mid-late Oct with some months being worse than others (late July through mid October) due to ragweed season. I've been on every medication known to man & nothing seems to work very well. I just have to suffer through the ride. Oftentimes I won't ride with a group as I don't know if I'll be able to make it on even the easiest of trails.
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby bender16v » April 3rd, 2018, 12:32 pm

Dirtdevil, I also have asthma that is much worse in the months opposite to yours due to leaves, pine, dust, etc. The cold air also makes mine worse and I really start wheezing. It is incredibly frustrating!
Analyzing it, maybe mine isn't brought on by exercise but more so the environment of being in the woods. I saw my doctor yesterday and she has me trying a powdered albuterol inhaler 2x before riding in addition to Singulair pills. Those seem to help keep my airways open and thankfully I haven't had an actual attack while riding. It's always tricky trying to figure out the best way to manage and I think that it changes for each person.
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby Dirtdevil » April 3rd, 2018, 1:17 pm

I tried the same meds as you noted and while they gave me a little relief the 1st year, they stopped working the 2nd. I also used a nasal spray to boot. No problems riding in the winter-just have to deal with the nose running like a faucet. On a positive note, I've become quite adept at firing snot-rockets.
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby banditx552 » April 5th, 2018, 11:18 am

Dirtdevil, have you ever messed around with probiotics (both from food and as a supplement)? Gut health keeps getting linked to more and more things, one of them being allergies and such. I haven't taken an allergy pill in a year and used to get awful coughing bouts prior to taking a probiotic. I figure even if it is a placebo effect, I can get 3 months worth of pills for $22 on Amazon. For that amount I will take the improvement regardless of whether it is because of that or not!
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby Dirtdevil » April 5th, 2018, 2:07 pm

I take probiotics & am now following a keto diet. It'll be interesting to see if it helps.
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby santaclausersolo » April 5th, 2018, 2:24 pm

bender16v wrote:I struggle with this too. On my gravel bike I run out of legs and on my mountain bikes I run out of lungs. I've only been riding for a couple of years and it hasn't gotten too much better but I have gotten faster. I have read about breathing exercises to increase lung capacity but I haven't tried any of them. I should follow c0nsumer's advice but my riding time is limited so when I do get out there I overdo it.

It never gets easier, you just get faster.


*edit*

I should have read further before posting.

michiganclydesdale wrote:
bender16v wrote:I struggle with this too. On my gravel bike I run out of legs and on my mountain bikes I run out of lungs. I've only been riding for a couple of years and it hasn't gotten too much better but I have gotten faster.


To quote Greg LeMond "it never get's any easier, you just go faster" or something like that. True at all levels

beat me to it.
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Re: Running out of breath...

Postby AllMountin' » April 5th, 2018, 6:14 pm

I disagree. When riding for fun, I ride hills to clean them at a moderate pace. I can climb everything at highland(or anywhere local really) at that pace without needing to recover, and then enjoy the funner parts. Just cleaning those climbs used to be torture. That quote only applies to racing and riding for PRs.
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