Cyclocross performance reduction

In the last few weeks, I have noticed a substantial reduction in my CX results. I think I finally know the reason but I want to run it by someone for further opinion. I have had exercise asthma when the weather turns cold. Just can’t breathe first few laps. I have an inhaler but it doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t think its a loss of fitness issue as I am working with a multiple national champ CX coach, so I think that is covered. Early in the CX season I race great, beat many guys who are now just smoking me…then as the season progresses my performance does a nose dive. This is coupled with a noticeable reduction in threshold HR by about 10 BPM. At first we thought it was fatigue. So we incorporated more rest in the training. But after last race I almost got off the bike halfway into the first lap. Does anyone have experience with exercise asthma, how to treat it, how to mitigate it? Its very frustrating for this to happen every year and I am at the point of giving up something I really love to do.

I can’t speak on the asthma standpoint as I don’t have it and actually haven’t had an athlete who experienced that problem.

My question you would be have you changed up your training much? Or have you done a similar build up to the season. You said it has happened every single year. I wouldn’t give up something you love instead I would try to change up your training for next year. You have a coach so that is good. Rest was smart. If you are training hard and you are feeling worse chances are rest is the best course of action. The only reason I say change things up is because you are starting the cross season strong. Maybe push back your offseason training, your build up to cross season, intervals and etc. Treat nationals almost like the beginning of the season where you are seeing the success.

If you have a hard time preforming in the cold because of your asthma you can still find joy in early season races so I wouldn’t stop or use that as a reason not to race. But first I would try changing up your routing and training and go from there.

One question I have, based on your statement that you “Just can’t breathe first few laps”, is: What is your warm-up routine, and how do you adapt it for the colder weather?

If you find your breathing opens up after a few laps maybe you could extend and/or intensify your warm-up routine so that you get the “first few laps” adaptation done before the start?

Hello @llaw21411 - I suggest you visit your physician who prescribed the inhaler for your EIA and explain your symptoms and what’s going on to them.

You really do not want to be self diagnosing and treating a medical condition in a forum like this. I mean I know our forum is good and all but your doctor has 6+ years of post graduate schooling medical training that is your best source for help :smiley:

I do like the advice @apbstats and Coach Jake provide but you really want to get to the root cause. Otherwise it’s like what Einstein famously said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”

Very good question. I have tried to compensate for this in the past and change my routine. It does work sometimes. But I have to have my heart rate at or very near threshold for a bit which according to my coach will deplete my legs strength. It’s such a strange and frustrating phenomenon. I went into this season with high confidence thinking this would be my best season yet. I know something is amiss because the same guys are passing me like I’m still.

Lance O. Law
518-779-1458

Right! Exactly…year after year I see this. Frank thank so much for your reply. My coach (you would know him…he raced with Ned, Myrah and others. Former master’s mtb national champ) is very knowledgeable and if it were conditioning related, I think he would know. I race every weekend so he is mostly holding me back from doing too much. I do want to explore coach Chads suggestion tho. In fact, to your point maybe I should describe it as…I am so so winded that my legs are useless. Rather than assume it is EIA. Its just that its such an acute issue that it seems lije EIA. Any other suggestions?
Lance O. Law
518-779-1458

Just another follow up comment…the coughing after the race and all night leads me to believe it’s EIA.

Lance O. Law
518-779-1458

Go see your doc - this is more about your your health than it is your training.

Hi Jake thanks for your reply. I have considered your view point…I always think of my lack of performance as training related. I did a good pre season plan. I currently have been racing every weekend. So my coach is always trying to gold me back from doing too much during the week. But its hard to deny the strength of coming off of the road, being so strong for the first few races and now with such an acute decline I am thinking the EIA is the problem. I dont know I’m at a loss.
Are you saying that if it is a training and or conditioning issue that its too late to correct?

Lance O. Law
518-779-1458

Just one more follow up comment. i am cureently waiting for a referral to a pulmonary specialist.

Lance O. Law
518-779-1458

Keep us posted here. This is an interesting thread.

I will add one thing. I used to get symptoms of EIA all the time when I would do really hard workouts/races. It came down to food allergies for me. I’m allergic to corn. Maltodextrin is a primary source ingredient of damn near all products sold to us. I’ve never had an instance of EIA since and I’m going on over 2 years of racing and hard workouts with not eating corn or products made with corn. It’s pretty staggering the amount of stuff made out of corn. Do a google search.

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I race road and cross in Colorado and every cross season once the temps drop into the 60s I develop a cough after every race that lasts several days. I went to the doctor a few years ago and after trying several different EIA related inhalers I ended up settling on a Q-Var inhaler which is a steroid that reduced the inflammation in my breathing passages as a result of each dusty dry cross race. I don’t experience any difficulty or constriction in breathing during the race, but without Q-Var will re-exacerbate my breathing passages and cough after each race. I don’t think it’s EIA or asthma per se since I don’t experience this during a full road season, it seems only related to hard race efforts in colder air.

I do have EIA and have been dealing with it for quite a while. My doctor and I went through several steps before coming up with the solution that WORKED FOR ME. I use Q-Var every single day as it’s cumulative and takes a few days to catch on. Once in the morning and once in the evening, and it has made a significant difference. I still use the albuterol about 15-20 minutes before a hard aerobic workout/race, but don’t use it at all otherwise. It’s more of an extra preventative measure before a lung-busting effort. I still expel a bunch of crud from my lungs in the hours following a hard effort, that part hasn’t changed, but they no longer seize up like they used to during the effort. Hopefully some of this is helpful to others.