Week 5, run 2 - how to improve lung capacity?

So, today was the two 8 minute runs, and it was fine. I took the first one slowly, and as that went okay, I decided to go a bit faster for the second one. I definitely felt the breathing was harder, but my body manages okay. I feel that I'm carrying too much weight while I run with heavy legs etc., but I must have a certain amount of muscular fitness that carries me through. It's the breathing and overheating that does me in. I have the same thing when I do long treks on holiday, I get out of breath rather than feeling physically tired. If anything I feel energised by the physical aspect. As an occasional user of an asthma inhaler, I'm thinking I might be able to help myself by working on lung capacity. Is this the same for anyone else? I'm wondering about using the inhaler before/during runs (although I wouldn't normally use it more than once or twice a month), and pushing with a faster running rate to make sure my lungs are being used to the maximum?

Update about arch blisters - I applied talc and laced my shoes tighter and it was fine again, but still intending to get running socks.


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18 Replies

  • I know there are power breathers out there that help with lung capacity but I would think they will do a similar job to what you are already doing to help your lungs. Your eight weeks Into a new sport and your lungs are still adjusting. Be kind to them and give them a little time to catch up with you. I am sure if you went on a long walk now you would be able to walk a lot further than before without overheating. Our bodies take a little time. If you are in any doubt talk to your asthma nurse she might have some good tips for you. Happy running.

  • Yes I'm thinking I'll notice the difference this summer. Going to Glastonbury in June :) :) which involves a lot of walking, and also hopefully Cornwall again in the summer for long moorland and coastal walks. I should definitely be vastly more fit by then. I looked up power breathers. It looks like the thing the nurse uses to test your breathing strength. I think I will use c25k as a way of improving my breathing, but be easy on myself. Pushing myself so my breathing is a little forced but not over forced... and perhaps take my inhaler with in case!

  • I have mild asthma and i take a puff of ventolin (the blue inhaler) before i go running and always take it with me....that was the medical advise i was given.

  • Thanks. I haven't really got asthma, I just get a sort of persistent cough, especially after a flu or a lot of exertion (running too fast or walking uphill). The cough can get quite bad and develop into chest tightness and can only be relieved by an inhaler. I'm thinking of using my blue inhaler before running, as you say, and also take it with. Maybe if this doesn't solve it I'll check with a nurse.

  • I don't use an inhaler, but the breathing and overheating have been the main issues for me too but have vastly improved as time goes by. I would suggest you don't try to push it and go faster, but rather do the opposite. I've tried to do each run in a way that means I'm not struggling for breath by the end, and took quite a while to learn how slow my pace needed to be to achieve that. Now, I'm finding that my breathing is just naturally way better as I've got more used to the running and at the same time I seem to be less inclined to overheat, even if I decide to have a bit of a sprint towards the end of a run or keep going beyond 30 minutes. I wouldn't have believed this was possible a few weeks ago. Hope this helps. Good luck with the next run!

  • Okay - that's encouraging to know that it might be possible to reach a point where I wouldn't be overheating anymore. I think I did push it slightly too hard today. It feels frustrating that my body is getting fitter but my lungs are holding me back. I think I need to apply some of your zen patience :)

  • The other side, on a lighter note is that a lot of us wear our beetroot faces with pride.

  • Exactly that, too, RFC!

  • I did two runs wearing a heart rate monitor. It was interesting to see that as soon as I started feeling like my lungs couldn't cope, that meant that I was pushing myself too much and my heart rate was above the comfortable running zone for me. By slowing down the pace, heart rate went down, breathing much more comfortable and not feeling hot. Maybe try to run a bit slower?

  • I feel like I want to push things a little bit though, to get my fitness up, but to gradually improve rather than wear myself out. I guess it's a matter of judging where the right threshold is...

  • I felt very much this way when I started running - I really struggled getting enough air in my lungs while I ran, even though my legs were getting much stronger and my heart etc.

    I bought this book:


    and very nearly bought one of those powerbreathe devices to work with to increase my lung strength/capacity. In the end though, I just slowed down my running pace and found I got much less out of breath at half the pace, and then over time, my distances increased, my speed crept up and my lung capacity improved without my really noticing. As RfC pointed out, 8 weeks in is not very long for your body to adapt. Physical changes takes place quite slowly, but once they are done they are done. Slow down, and stick with it.

    There is also an element to which, on shorter runs, you have not yet got into a rhythm before you stop. I still hate the first 15 minutes or so of every run: my joints protest, my breathing is ragged and laboured and I just want to stop, but after the first couple of miles, the body falls into its own rhythm and you don't have to think about it any more. Ten minutes into a run I am puffing like a steam train. Two hours in and I can carry on a conversation quite reasonably, if in shortish sentences - running brings out one's inner Hemingway.

    Give us a shout when you are in Glastonbury - we can go for a pre or post festival run if you like.

  • Er... does the running have to continue when you're on holiday?? I guess I'll be up to 5k by then. I'm not 8 weeks in by the way... only on week 5 (having had only 1 week off for a cold). Guess I need to keep everything in perspective :D

  • Oh, yeah, definitely. Once you have graduated, holidays actually have to be organised around apportunities for running - races you want to take part in, mountains you want to run over etc. Them's the rules. Once you have graduated, all activities, putchases and conversations have to be centred around running. There just isn't time or room for anything else, to be honest.

  • You have w5r3 coming up next and i noticed on that run after the first 10mins that my breathing became alot more comfortable. As Rignold has said maybe its just getting past that first 10 to 15 mins.

  • Okay that's good to know. Yes run 3 on Friday. I will be very prepared I think after all this advice. Thanks so much.

  • Since you have an inhaler it might be worth a chat with your local asthma nurse to work out the best strategy. Your GP should be able to fix that up for you.

  • If you slow down to the point where breathing is comfortable if fast (where you could talk but possibly not sing) you will gradually build capacity. Some runs may feel like backward steps, but the general trajectory will be one of improvement over the weeks. If you go off too fast in a run, don't feel guilty about slowing almost to a walk until you recover, sometimes it's a case of the tortoise doing a better overall speed than the hare (if that analogy makes sense). I always find I sort of settle in after the first 5 or 10 minutes, even if it feels rough at the start. You may find this as you reach the longer, continuous runs, where pacing yourself is really important.

  • Thanks that sounds like something I could try. Laura describes the brisk walk as being fast but you could still have a conversation, so perhaps the running speed should follow the same rule. Speaking of singing, I often sing to myself while cycling. Maybe I'll reach that point in running at some point ha ha. I guess longer runs are coming meaning I won't be tempted to go very fast at all...

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