Breathing is the one thing never to be taken for granted, not everyone gets that feeling of a full breath of air, and as oxygen is required to create the intended speed of our race, some of us go in to every race handi-capped due to breathing issues. Allergies, asthma, colds and flu's affect a large number of us on race day.
Allergies and sports asthma can go undetected, but an athlete who eats something and goes to train and finds themselves coughing or phleming up, should write that food down on a list of do not eat before training or racing. The main culprits for me were wheat and dairy. I started teaching spin class and realized if I was going to be able to talk without clearing my throat and still teach a spin class these were foods I would have to eliminate. It became more imparitive when I swam to avoid these foods. They were 2 on a list of things I don't eat if I can avoid it, and something I may treat myself with after a race season and avoid all the way through.
Other things that were difficult to tolerate were sports drinks, considering these were made for the sport I was disappointed to say the least. The sugar created mucous which then gave me a coughing issue and reduced airflow during a race, I now use coconut water, natural sugar and electrolyte. I still use electrolyte tablets with it.
Swimming in cold water, biking into a cold wind also cause breathing issues for me. I usually take my puffer before a cold swim and slowly get in and warm up, I need to swim slower in cold water as everything tenses and the lungs go on high alert. One race day I had perfect water temperature and I tried something new, I took electrolyte tablets before the race. I had a bad swim, the worst case of asthma in the water yet, I quickly looked up why, salt can trigger an asthma attack, again more race nutrition to save for after the swim.
I have had to try to go as natural as possible while racing. I try not to do gels on the bike, I save those for the run, I try to do natural food, no gluten or dairy, there was a great recipe on the tour de france that had sushi rice, eggs, bacon, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with a little brown sugar or maple syrup. This wrapped in a rice wrap or seaweed wrap made a great snack bar on the bike, portable easy to eat and neutral on the stomach, it didn't create acid unless you overdo the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.
I take water of the course and keep coconut milk in my bottles, I mix the coconut milk in with the water for a little carbs, mostly the flavor and the bit of electrolytes, I still take my electrolyte tablets, but that is after the swim is done. I usually only need my puffer before the swim unless I get asthma in the swim.
The more I coach the more I realize that swimming in Chlorinated pools is not great for people with respiratory issues, yet that is where we train, I have skipped the pool for a year and minimized my exposure and just waited for outdoor swim. I had fewer sinus issues and better bike and run training throughout the winter doing this. I am not saying give up swim, but choose a salt water pool, less chlorine gas issues and easier on the lungs.
Where there is a will there is a way. Never stop what you are doing because of issues, try to establish what the issue is relating to and change the conditions. I have become healthier through training for triathlon. I learned the foods I was choosing were not good for me, before that I thought I just had breathing problems and would have to live with it. I manage it very well now. It isn't gone, but it is more manageable. My overall health is better.
My first suggestion to most people who start training is to get rid of Wheat, Dairy and sugar for 28 days or longer while training. It is a basic suggestion. The outcome is amazing. Most people are no longer bloated or uncomfortable after eating, most people also lose a quick 5 pounds without dieting. The longer they do it the better they feel, I had a few people who did it and got control of their breathing issues. They weren't the first to notice, but a family member commented on the "death rattle" being gone.
I am here to just put suggestions out, make note of things that have helped me or my athletes. I am not suggesting this is for everyone, it is just a simple to follow suggestion that can help, or won't hurt to try. Everyone worries about eliminating dairy, but if you are eating your healthy greens you will be getting calcium. By eliminating these 3 foods your ability to digest all of your foods will improve, so your absorption of your nutrients will also improve. If you are still concerned, take a balanced mineral supplement that has calcium citrate, magnesium citrate, and vitamin D. Consult your doctor before trying any diet suggestions that may affect a condition you have.
Keep on training.