View Full Version : Asthma or fitness or what?

03-30-2007, 05:42 PM
I would like to hear from the girls who race and/or really hammer when they ride. How does your lungs / chest handle it? Early on in my riding "career", I discovered I have exercise-induced asthma so I got an albuterol inhaler and that seemed to do the trick. Most of the time. I still seem to have trouble when the weather is cool and damp (which is very rare around here) - I cough a lot, clear my throat, phlegm buildup in the throat, lungs etc. It's annoying but doesn't stop me from riding. Most of the time, I am fine.

However, I do notice that when I ride really really hard, I get worse and worse regardless of the weather. On my last two really hard rides, my chest hurt so bad after I stopped that I thought I was having a heart attack. It settled down after a bit and was just a little sore later. As I was riding, and breathing really hard, my throat got really "phlegmy" and I had to keep clearing and coughing. It really distracts and irritates me when I'm riding. When I was finished the ride, I started coughing and was hacking and coughing for about an hour afterward.

Is this "normal" for working really hard? Or do I need to get the next level of medication that my doctor mentioned was available? My hubby and another cycling friend both say they get kind of like that when they ride really hard and that it's just because I am working so hard. If that's the case, I'll guess I'll just live with it. Or get into better shape... :)

Your thoughts?

03-30-2007, 06:00 PM
When I ride very hard (all out TT type effort) I do get a hacking cough going afterward, especially in the early season, before my lungs get used to it. It seems to go away or at very least lessen after a while. It's pretty normal to hear a lot of folks coughing after a race. I don't really think it has to do with fitness - even the pros get it - Phil called it Prologue Cough in the Paris Nice telecast.

Of course if you already have asthma I'm sure it needs watching.

03-30-2007, 07:30 PM
Pursuiter's Cough!

I have it - even now. I also had pulmonary emboli last year when we thought I had "asthma", so I'm a little skeptical.

If it's something that comes out as a wheeze during top end efforts, watch it and get a pulmonary function test. If it's something that happens after hard efforts, it may be fairly commonplace.

Chest pain, however, does not seem to be a good thing. Get that looked at.

Of course, coughing up blood should be a no brainer. :rolleyes:

03-31-2007, 04:35 PM
Thanks you two. I'm glad (I think) to hear it's a common thing although in some ways it would be ncie if there was a way to stop it. :rolleyes:

I googled Pursuiter's Cough and got lots of info, including a TE thread. Thanks for the feedback!

03-31-2007, 04:49 PM
I often joke that all pro cyclist have asthma, or at least they have prescriptions to treat it!!

This being said, I also get inflamed and over-produce phlegm of all sorts when I work out hard (or just midly hard if it's cold). I am, generally, a spitter, to say things bluntly. My speedwork and hill sessions on the run are particularly... hum, productive. Yesterday at the end of my 10th repeat of a 250 meters steep hill, which I had raced with a friend, I had a mighty coughing fit, I thought I would puke. Considering the data showing on my heart rate monitor, I had probably looked for it!! :eek:

The good news is that it gets better with training. Or maybe you just get used to it. I was prescribed asthma drugs in the past (corticosteroids), before I started doing endurance sports seriously, and I think it did reduce the problem after taking them daily for weeks. But I dropped all that years ago. There are way too many people who supposedly have EIA out there that I refuse to see it as a condition or a disease anymore. It's a lucrative market though. Since it's not threatening to my health and only slightly compromising my "performance", I prefer to see it as a variation of the normal. :p

03-31-2007, 05:15 PM
I have a little EIA, and here's three things to keep in mind:

Warm up! I always want to make the most of my ride time, so I tend to take off fast. Especially with a group ride when people act like it's a race, the pace begins and stays hard. But your lungs need 10 minutes to warm up and get the hang of the exercise before you take it up a notch. I've noticed that when I warm up properly, the wheeze doesn't happen.

I use a heart rate monitor, and I've noticed when the wheeze starts. If I don't warm up, the wheeze kicks in at 150. When I'm warm, I can take it up to 167-170 with nary a problem.

Do you have allergies? Pollen/mold/cottonwood tree fluff/grasses blooming can aggravate things; take a Claritin or Zyrtec. Particulate matter also matters. A lot of smog or dust in the air will mess with your lungs. Short of wearing a Michael Jackson-esque mask, just take it easy or notice that that's a factor and keep the effort moderate.

A very wise doctor once told me that you should use the least amount of medication to get the desired effect. In my completely nonmedical opinion, if you've never wheezed UNLESS you're working really hard or in a house with 15 cats and a bad cat allergy, you don't need a daily dose of asthma med. The albuterol works fine for me if I take it on a cold day before the ride or at the first hint of a wheeze.

Good luck!

04-01-2007, 04:08 PM
Yep, without the warm up, I am toast. So, if I want to ride my fastest, people have to put up with me going slow for about 10-15 minutes. I already told the leader of one of the weekly rides I go to that if she wanted me to lead on the days she inquired about, she would have to plan some warm up time in her rides so I did not always feel bad at the beginning. This is exactly the reason i am usually at the back for the first half of a group ride and then a switch goes on and I am usually at the front and feel like I could go on forever when others are getting tired. These people go out like crazy and then slowly die off...

04-02-2007, 06:57 AM
I thought, that there must be something wrong with me. I sound like an old smoker when i race. But then an elite male passed me. He sounds just like me! they make it LOOK easy, but effort is well effort, so hard effort will make you puff. Just make sure that you are able to breathe, and than there are no underlying health issues that need addressing. Many time as people approach that puff point, they start to panic a little bit so the breathing goes all over the place, and/or they start actually holding their breath.


04-03-2007, 05:30 AM
On the other hand - if while riding hard you're doing an immitation of a freight train, this is a *bad thing*. One thing about riding a bike path on top of a levee, all classes of riders get pretty close to one another. On more than one occasion, I've had elite riders ask if I'm OK when they pass me. I used to say "Yeah, this, is, nor-mal, for, me." Coughing up phelm is somewhat normal, but doing frieght train immitations isn't. So be careful.

I did find concentrating on my breathing in spin class was good winter training. I think my breathing while riding is better this year. Of course yesterday I was a lazy slug and took a nap with my cat instead of going to class...:o

04-03-2007, 07:18 AM
I am often guilty of not warming up. I will try to do that from now on. Might help. Thank you!

04-03-2007, 11:05 AM
when i teach my spinning class and the intensity increased, i call it being comfortable with your discomfort. Breathing is laboured, its hard to talk lots but there isn't any panic, ie. you can still breath its just not feeling all that good.

warming up helps,
eating the right foods.
watch the "air pollution" whether indoor or out.
cold air or humid air can be an irritant for some
watch the "head pollution" even nasty self talk can cause some "panic breathing"



04-03-2007, 12:02 PM
I know what you mean Han - I have done the head thing to myself before. I am not so concerned with my breathing any more now that I know I can get in a pretty bad way and not die. :rolleyes:

My biggest problem is the excessive phlegm I am hacking up (sorry, gross, I know). Clearing my throat, trying to get rid of it... I can even deal with the coughing attack afterwards because that seems to go away. The throat full of crap bugs the heck out me.

04-04-2007, 08:47 AM
I have EIA. I've been sent for tests and they make me sit down and blow in this tube. They said after the test was done that my breathing is perfect.

Now correct me if i'm wrong but if I only suffer from asthma when I exercise, how can they tell by making me sit down the whole time and blow in a machine? No exercise whatsoever!!

04-04-2007, 09:08 AM
I'm so glad this thread was started. I was just starting to have some of these concerns myself. My last group ride I did a really hard effort and was breathing heavily and had a difficult time catching my breath. I've also noticed it when I run--like there is a band around my chest. I recently had this happen during *ahem *ahem intimate moments with DH. I have a dr. appt tomorrow and was going to ask him about it then.

04-29-2007, 06:32 AM
Sorry - had to steal a line from my Paramedic XH (favorite line of Parameds - better living through chemistry).

Last winter my Doc upped my 2X daily dose of Flovent, which I was NOT happy about at the time. Felt like I was being defeated by EIA. But now that it's riding season, I find I'm riding better. Used to be that I had to coax myself to ride the 9.5 miles to a landmark, then turn around to go back, especially when I was riding alone. Now when I get to the landmark, I think "why stop" and keep going to the "old end", which makes the round trip 26 miles. Guess I'll have to look for my next milestone on the levee path. I CAN ride and breathe at the same time! Or maybe it's my newish Specialized Allez Sport bike :p

Of course yesterday when I was mowing the grass I forgot to take my before-exercise Seravent and found myself coughing with that scratchy lung feeling again. Maybe I need to invest in a facemask. I didn't think pushing a motorized lawn mower was THAT much work to warrent the Seravent.

At least Doc will be happy with my improved riding and breathing at the same time. Normal peak flows are 410-440. Better than 350!

04-29-2007, 10:31 AM
Yup... pursuiters cough. Just like the others say here.

After a TT I know I couldn't have done more if I have it... if I don't cough for a day or so after, I know I slacked off somewhere!

By the end of a well-ridden TT I will be breathing heavily - sometimes "wheezing" and breathing mouth wide open, sometimes toungue hanging out (real glam, I'm sure :rolleyes: ).

Glad to hear you are getting the chest pain checked, limewave.

05-03-2007, 04:53 AM
I am a cricket player. I am also a patient of asthma. nowadays I can't play cricket due breathing prblem.I can't go for any medicine though I want to
continue my cricket career but how i don't no?

Plz suggest a solution for me........

05-03-2007, 07:27 AM
Now correct me if i'm wrong but if I only suffer from asthma when I exercise, how can they tell by making me sit down the whole time and blow in a machine? No exercise whatsoever!!

Hee-hee! I was thinking the same thing to myself just this week when they told my my pulmonary test was perfect, after standing still in a sterile enviornment to do it....

Hacking after a hard effort is DEFINITELY normal for me. This week on one of our rides, it sounded like everyone in the group was a pack-a-day smoker... I think it's that time of the year here in the Northeast.


05-14-2007, 11:13 PM
well, you all can try for yoga breathing techniques to control your coughing, and heavy breathing.

Heavy breathing is quite usual after hard cycling but a regular problem of heavy breathing may cause serious problems in future. It harms your lungs first.

I will suggestyou to try the yoga exersices for breathing. There are many asanas for improving the breathing habbits.

You will definately feel the change after it.