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Easily Winded

Old 09-11-19, 07:36 PM
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Celticgirl
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Easily Winded

Hi Folks,
I'm 62 and this is my second year riding casually. I ride two miles each way to the store and back two to three times a week. I live in an area that is fairly hilly, so it's uphill most of the way to the store.
I find myself stopping several times to catch my breath while riding up the long slight grade.
I have been trying to eat healthy, getting protein and vitamins, but don't seem to be improving.
I would welcome any suggestions, diet, supplements, training etc. Thanks
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Old 09-11-19, 07:47 PM
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The brutally short answer is that riding 8-12 miles a week isn't going to radically improve cardiovascular fitness. If you want to become a stronger, more capable rider, you're going to have to do it more.
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Old 09-11-19, 07:49 PM
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I'm a few years older than you and I still get winded when I climb a long grade, will it ever end? Seriously, if you're sure you're not going to keel over from a heart attack, just keep pushing it. I find that when I push through the pain and keep gasping, eventually it takes more to wind me, and also to work up a sweat. I've ridden in mountains that seriously challenge you (altitude sickness isn't any fun) but when you can't go any further, you just dig a little deeper. I'm not recommending this behavior, it's just what I do, now let's hear what the smarter folks have to say.
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Old 09-11-19, 07:58 PM
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Ride more. Take a longer ride a few times a week, but a loooonnnngggggeeeeerrrrr ride. Try doing 5 miles as a start. Then 10, then 20. Work your way up after that. If that sounds like it is impossible you won't know that it is possible until you try it. I told the guy next door to me that I did 30 miles today and he was somewhat incredulous. But I'm 64 and this guy was probably 25. You can do it. Oh, also, see a doctor before you go too crazy.

Do a 50 mile ride and 3 miles to the store will seem like nothing.
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Old 09-11-19, 08:03 PM
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Before you have to stop are you in your lowest gear? Are you turning a good cadence? I think if you can do 30 minutes of cardio 3 times a week you should see improvement.
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Old 09-11-19, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Celticgirl View Post
Hi Folks,
I'm 62 and this is my second year riding casually. I ride two miles each way to the store and back two to three times a week. I live in an area that is fairly hilly, so it's uphill most of the way to the store.
I find myself stopping several times to catch my breath while riding up the long slight grade.
I have been trying to eat healthy, getting protein and vitamins, but don't seem to be improving.
I would welcome any suggestions, diet, supplements, training etc. Thanks
Have you always had the problem, or is it a fairly recent development? I'd get yourself checked out by a doc to make sure everything is OK.

Assuming you do, and you're fit enough for it, you just have to keep at it. Cardio fitness takes time.

Try riding longer distances, and also try interval training (riding hard for a few minutes, then back off, then ride hard again).
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Old 09-11-19, 08:23 PM
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Hoping to encourage you with a bit of my own journey. Started riding last July. I was diagnosed as to being 70% effecient in my breathing. Still considered normal but 69% would of dropped me out of the normal range.

I rode a 24 speed Giant Roam at the start of my riding career. I was doing what is called mashing, pedalling slowly in a bit of high gear. Slight hills were killing me. I kept at it, learned to pedal and use the gears, found a loop to ride from my house that was 10km start to finish. I rode that everyday gradually pushing myself to go faster. Eventually I was doing it twice in a row. My breathing has greatly improved, though getting winded on long steep climbs still happens when I charge them. My regular loops now are 30 to 40 km long, and I average 19 to 20 km/hr. I'm 69.

By the way, I bought my bike because my doctor had really improved his weight and posture, and he said it was from riding a bike. Told me to get one so I did. Best advice I have had in a long long time.

If you are really concerned, check in with your doctor. If you are just unfit but healthy otherwise, start pushing yourself. It's not easy but it will pay off eventually.
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Old 09-11-19, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Before you have to stop are you in your lowest gear? Are you turning a good cadence? I think if you can do 30 minutes of cardio 3 times a week you should see improvement.
Not usually in the lowest gear as that seems too low, but even if the pedaling is easy, I don't seem to have the stamina to go continuously.
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Old 09-11-19, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
Ride more. Take a longer ride a few times a week, but a loooonnnngggggeeeeerrrrr ride. Try doing 5 miles as a start. Then 10, then 20. Work your way up after that. If that sounds like it is impossible you won't know that it is possible until you try it. I told the guy next door to me that I did 30 miles today and he was somewhat incredulous. But I'm 64 and this guy was probably 25. You can do it. Oh, also, see a doctor before you go too crazy.

Do a 50 mile ride and 3 miles to the store will seem like nothing.
Thanks for your suggestion. My problem is that the town I live in is nothing but hills, think soup bowl. Everywhere I would want to go is uphill.
We border a city but then you have to deal with high traffic and parked cars. Northeast U.S Hopefully someday I can move to a better location that is more bike friendly.
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Old 09-11-19, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Have you always had the problem, or is it a fairly recent development? I'd get yourself checked out by a doc to make sure everything is OK.

Assuming you do, and you're fit enough for it, you just have to keep at it. Cardio fitness takes time.

Try riding longer distances, and also try interval training (riding hard for a few minutes, then back off, then ride hard again).
Not really a recent development. I have been getting winded walking up the hill in our backyard to the house or going up the cellar stairs going back five years.

Previous to the last two years, I was leading a pretty sedentary life with hardly any exercise at all or hard physical work.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:06 PM
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The body takes time to get into activity mode. I know in my first 10-20 mins, I am easily winded, but then the muscles and lungs start to "pump up" and the riding gets easier. 2 miles is not enough (in my opinion) for your body to build up the energy/strength. Try doing 15 mins of flat riding before hitting the hills.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
The body takes time to get into activity mode. I know in my first 10-20 mins, I am easily winded, but then the muscles and lungs start to "pump up" and the riding gets easier. 2 miles is not enough (in my opinion) for your body to build up the energy/strength. Try doing 15 mins of flat riding before hitting the hills.
2 miles would not be enough warm-up for me, either. I need to cruise 15-20 minutes to get warmed up and I feel better if I can stop for a bit after the first part of a longer ride.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Celticgirl View Post
Not usually in the lowest gear as that seems too low, but even if the pedaling is easy, I don't seem to have the stamina to go continuously.
If the hills make it hard to get started maybe a brisk walk before your ride to the store would help, and maybe throw in a couple walks during the week.
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Old 09-12-19, 02:27 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Celticgirl View Post
Hi Folks,
I'm 62 and this is my second year riding casually. I ride two miles each way to the store and back two to three times a week. I live in an area that is fairly hilly, so it's uphill most of the way to the store.
I find myself stopping several times to catch my breath while riding up the long slight grade.
I have been trying to eat healthy, getting protein and vitamins, but don't seem to be improving.
I would welcome any suggestions, diet, supplements, training etc. Thanks
A) Go to your Dr.

B) Slow down when you climb. But go to your Dr first.
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Old 09-12-19, 02:43 AM
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If all is well with Doctor, then I would suggest when not riding, getting in some intense cardio. I do intervals on the treadmill and it really helps build the stamina. Run for 1 minute, walk for one minute. Do that for an hour. When that becomes easy, then run for 2 minutes, then walk for 1 minute. When that becomes easy...run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute. The walk minute allows you to rest muscles, while maintaining the heart rate. Its always nice to know that initially you are only 1 minute away from the walking portion.
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Old 09-12-19, 04:31 AM
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Echoing the responses from others to first confirm there are no health issues that would preclude you from pushing yourself harder. Then, increase your miles gradually. A couple of miles won't even warm you up.

I see you're from CT. Yeah, hard to avoid hills. Maybe consider driving your bike to one of the bike paths. Check out the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. I've only cycled portions up in the Farmington/Collinsville area to get to one of my road loops but I think you can pick it up in Cheshire, which I think would be closest to you. If you can get your bike to a parking area, you could ride your bike increasingly long distances on the bike path. The Airline Trail is another nice bike path although the nearest point you you (assuming, per your profile, you're in Wolcott) is East Hampton. As you increase your distances on the bike paths, you should find you'll get stronger and can introduce some hills to your rides. But, it does take time to build up endurance. Best of luck.
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Old 09-12-19, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by dennis336 View Post
Echoing the responses from others to first confirm there are no health issues that would preclude you from pushing yourself harder. Then, increase your miles gradually. A couple of miles won't even warm you up.


I see you're from CT. Yeah, hard to avoid hills. Maybe consider driving your bike to one of the bike paths. Check out the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. I've only cycled portions up in the Farmington/Collinsville area to get to one of my road loops but I think you can pick it up in Cheshire, which I think would be closest to you. If you can get your bike to a parking area, you could ride your bike increasingly long distances on the bike path. The Airline Trail is another nice bike path although the nearest point you you (assuming, per your profile, you're in Wolcott) is East Hampton. As you increase your distances on the bike paths, you should find you'll get stronger and can introduce some hills to your rides. But, it does take time to build up endurance. Best of luck.

+1 this... In the beginning I doubled back on my local bike path and other flat rides for over a month, before I took on a medium (200-300 ft elevation) hill. 40 years ago, I was a "climber". Now, not so much... Bikes are so dang efficient, that if one is not going uphill, fighting gravity, or going fast enough to face wind resistance, a couple miles, needs to become 5, 7, 10.... to get progressively stronger. But I get to see more, and I enjoy the physical sensation of riding, vs running which my body hates, or walking and seeing the scenery crawl by, and well, I now max out around 20-25 miles at 17mph, with some moderate hills... I was pleasantly surprised last week to drop my speed a bit, and find that at the end of my 24 mile ride, my legs were not shot to their limit, and I didn't need a rest before going on with my day. This, not much for some, but built from a base of feeling worn out at 5-6 miles of flat riding, felt grand.


Check w/ Dr. and push a little more, a day at a time. On those days when more feels like too much, try to do "some" of something in the way of exercise. It's working for me. Hang in, and good luck. Eric
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Old 09-12-19, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Have you always had the problem, or is it a fairly recent development? I'd get yourself checked out by a doc to make sure everything is OK.
This!
Could be an indicator of cardiovascular disease. Chat with your doc, not us. If there's nothing, then come back and chat.
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Old 09-12-19, 06:58 AM
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Only 2 years riding? Agree with see the doc to see if you might have asthma, bronchitis, whatever physical problem that might cause you to get winded. If nothing there, learn to breathe correctly while climbing (probably thought you were, right?) And are you riding a heavy or light bike, with decent low gears or not so much? I'm a bit older than you, ride a road bike around 25-27 lbs. with my seat bag, et.al. Rode 26 miles 9/11, of which the first 7 miles or so were hilly-some fairly decent hills. Four of us were on the ride, all in our mid to upper 60's and we were all winded a little on some of the steeper hills, but not to the point of stopping. Short version-see the doc, if nothing wrong, maybe a lighter bike with better gearing, don't forget to breathe on a climb (sounds easy), and work on upping your fitness level.
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Old 09-12-19, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by zarbog View Post
If you are really concerned, check in with your doctor. If you are just unfit but healthy otherwise, start pushing yourself. It's not easy but it will pay off eventually.
+1

I'm just chiming in to try and give you a bit of encouragement. Sometimes pushing yourself can be the biggest obstacle. If you've been sedentary for most of your life you're also going to be dealing with lifestyle changes that are new to your brain and body. Sometimes the next hill may seem impossible, so just push yourself and see how far you can get up it. There's no rule saying you have to make it all the way to the top on the first try.
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Old 09-12-19, 08:06 AM
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Being easily winded might be a sign of simply being out of shape areobically, or it may be a sign of cardio-vascular problems. After all, you haven't been doing this since you were a youngster. Although you're not going to gain significant aerobic fitness by riding a few miles a week, it's enough that you should be getting better. A stress test might be in order.
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Old 09-12-19, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Celticgirl View Post
Thanks for your suggestion. My problem is that the town I live in is nothing but hills, think soup bowl. Everywhere I would want to go is uphill.
We border a city but then you have to deal with high traffic and parked cars. Northeast U.S Hopefully someday I can move to a better location that is more bike friendly.
That’s a good thing, not a problem! Hills are an opportunity to improve fitness, you need to train and build up, hills are a great way to do this. There are lots of different approaches to training, intervals, etc. that you can read about. You just need to find something that will work for you. Something you will actually do, and hopefully will let you recognize your progress. I have a 1.2 mile hill nearby that I go out and climb 6-7 times on Wednesday evenings. I will do a couple of climbs pushing hard and steady all the way, and do intervals up it a couple other times, and also do a lower gear/higher cadence ascent.

And like others said, check with the doc to make sure there aren’t any underlying cardiovascular issues.
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Old 09-12-19, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg View Post
This!
Could be an indicator of cardiovascular disease. Chat with your doc, not us. If there's nothing, then come back and chat.
Yea, that is why I mentioned it. My sister in law was getting winded and tired when she ordinarily should not have been. This went on for a couple of years, with her doc (a GP) postulating all kinds strange diseases and syndromes that made no sense to me.

An RN friend of hers suggested she see a cardiologist, and a stress test revealed a 90% blockage. She got a stent and she's now fine.

And she fired her GP. Not recommending a cardio workup was malpractice, and may have killed her.
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Old 09-12-19, 11:32 AM
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Much credit to you Celticgirl for your determination to pedal your way out of a sedentary life. I'm asthmatic and my allergist has me on
a Symbicort inhaler to alleviate symptoms. Here in coastal Rhode Island, it is quite flat so to get stronger on hills I have to go out of my way to ride them. Though the symbicort is a great help with breathing, the legs don't get the workout needed for good hill climbing. Nevertheless, hills here are not longer than one mile but I've come to manage that with moderate burning in the knees. Your shortness of breadth suggests Pulmonologist or Allergist should have a look at you. Your legs should give out before your breathing.
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Old 09-12-19, 12:00 PM
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I would suggest:


1) see your Dr. first and get the all clear

2) continue what you are doing as a base and increase your weekly mileage by 10% each week. Three times per week.

3) as you get stronger, allocate the additional mileage equal to the 10% increase to any or all the individual rides during that week.

Do not exceed the 10% mileage increase per week until you have doubled the initial starting base mileage of week #1 ie: after 10 weeks

4) continue to increase weekly mileage until desired distance is achieved.

5) Have fun doing 2) to 4).


You will eventually get there.


Good Luck

Last edited by Afdica; 09-12-19 at 12:06 PM.
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