Question: When I’m riding hard and breathing heavily, I notice that occasionally I can openmy lungs more than normal and take in more air. On those breaths I feel great. For the next 5-10 seconds my breathing slows and isn’t as labored.
If I could duplicate that feeling on every breath, my cycling performance would take a giant leap forward. How do I work on this skill? — Bill L.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Interesting question. I can only guess that what’s happening has to do with how you’re breathing on your “successful” breaths. There’s a long tradition in yoga and the martial arts of “belly breathing,” which means that you breathe with your diaphragm rather than by expanding your lungs.
If you look at certain side views of pro riders time trialing, you’ll see their stomachs look distended, almost as if they’re fat or have swallowed a watermelon. It’s caused by breathing powerfully with the diaphragm, making their midsections inflate.
If you recognize that that’s what is happening when you are feeling great, then you may have discovered the secret. Pay close attention to your breathing on the next few rides and see if you can replicate that type of breathing more regularly.