My Encyclopedia of Breathing Problems

In my search to figure out how to fix my breathing issues (see 2012 race reports starting in May), I’ve come up with a long list of potential causes. I thought this might be useful for athletes out there who struggle with breathing during exercise and aren’t sure how to fix it.

1. Asthma
This is every doctor’s first answer. I took a normal asthma test and was fine.

2. Sports Induced Asthma
I failed this test, so it appears that this is what is wrong. I started taking asthma medication and an inhaler before hard training sessions. It didn’t really help.

3. Sports Induced Ashthma
Yea, doctors love this answer. They changed my meds to see if they worked better. I’m still not sure it’s helping.

4. Vocal Chord Dysfunction (VCD)
It sounded like a good possibility. Treatment is re-learning how to breathe properly. Read more here:

5. Allergies/Intolerances
I had an allergy test done and found a couple minor foods that I was allergic / intolerant to, so I cut them out of my diet.

6. Heart Problems
Some people can have some backflow issues with their heart (called valve regurgitation), which isn’t all that uncommon or cause for concern. Exercise could exacerbate it though and make breathing difficult, which is a problem. So I got a stress echo done and the doctor said I was fine.

7. Muscle Problems
I’ve tried massage, PT, dry needling, and chiropractic work around my ribs/chest. It seems to help a little.

8. Sickness – Viruses or Parasites

9. Tumors
I had a chest xray done. It looked fine.

Well, that is it. Feel free to add to this list in the comments. Hope this helps somebody!

Injury Update: Down, But Not Out

So it’s been 4 weeks since I broke my hip in the European 70.3 champs. I thought now would be a good time to send out an update on how things have been going and what I’ve been doing to recover. So here it goes:

Magical Herbs

I got lots of advice on what supplements to take to help heal bone. The first person I thought to reach out to for supplement advice was Robert from First Endurance. He knows his stuff. He recommended straight powdered glutamine – 10-20g per day. I’ve been tossing that in my apple juice. Makes it look kind of creamy and it feels like I’m drinking sand!

Amanda Balding, who broke her ribs recently, recommended shark fin powder, so I ordered some of that. The bottle says 2-3 pills, 2-3 times per day. It’s supposed to heal bone quickly. If it doesn’t help me heal, at least it might help me swim like a shark.

I also thought I’d throw some calcium pills into my diet. Helps strong bones, right? Someone told me I could take those like candy, but I stuck to 2 at night. ***follow up note: someone else told me it’s not good for men to take too much calcium***

I hate having to take pills at the best of times, but here I am taking 3 shark pills and 10g of glutamine in the morning and 3 shark pills, 2 calcium pills and another 10g of glutamine at night. After 4 weeks I’m finally out of glutamine and magic shark fin powder. I don think I can bring myself to go through another round of that.

I also spoke with Doug from Recovery Pump to see if he thought it could help. Even though it doesn’t go all the way up to my hip, he said yes, because it will help the blood circulation around there, which will help heal. So I jumped in the boots as much as I could (1-2 hours per day). I really think it has helped a lot. It certainly kept the swelling down.


After talking to a doctor in Germany he basically told me I could start swimming at any time. So after spending a couple of very boring days on the couch in Germany watching the Simpsons in German (nowhere near as funny) and reruns of Pimp My Ride on MTV (the only english channel they have), I finally decided to suck up the $750 change fee for my flight back to Austin. By the way Continental Airlines, you suck. Wheres the love for a wounded man?

But I will say that being on crutches going through the airport is golden. No waiting in line royalty wheelchair service, no waiting in the security line, and going straight to the front of the line at customs in the US was nearly worth the pain of a fractured hip. And the little stocky Russian that was pushing me around the airport in Dallas was hilarious. I’m sure she was an ex KGB agent. The first thing she said to me when she helped me off the the plane was, “You like my service, you tip me yes?” then she just about ran down every other passenger over telling them to move move move getting me to baggage claim. Then at the baggage claim she picked up every bag that came around and asked “This is your bag YES?” I nearly wanted to say yes just to make her happy. Luckily my bags came out quickly. I’m sure she would have hurt me if I had said no a couple more times. Anyway, I made the tight connecting flight back to Austin. I guess a $20 tip was ok because she let me go with a friendly smile.

After getting home, I was planning on taking a week or two of doing nothing and maybe having some quality PS3 time, but the fist thing I saw once I got home was a box with a water jogger kit from my wife. Awesome. Guess she wanted me to get back to training right away. No sympathy coming from her, slave driver.

So I ended up taking 6 days off before I jumped back in the pool. I managed to get in 3km for my first swim. I could only swim with a pull buoy and I had to do the stop start turns at each end as I couldn’t tumble turn. I wasn’t planning on swimming that much, but the muppet in the next lane was trying to race me. And since I couldn’t do tumble turns, he was kicking my ass. So I spent the next 1km putting the hurt on him. It’s all about the small victories right now :)

The first couple of swims were painfully slow with not being able to do tumble turns, but I finally figured out a way to do a turn with one leg. About a week later, I was up to swimming about 5 to 6 times a week and most of that was with a pull buoy in. Just in the last week I have tried to start swimming without the buoy. I feel very uncoordinated, but its good to move the legs again.

Racing the Jellyfish

In the last week I have also started water running. I tried to do this early on but my hip was too tight and it just hurt too much to get anything out of it, so I put it off for a couple of weeks. Now that I’m in Boulder, I can water run inside and stay warm. I can be a big fairy when it comes to cold water.

However I’ve found a way to make water jogging interesting – race the jellyfish.

What do I mean by jellyfish? Jellyfish are those (usually old ladies) in the pool that kind of just float from one side of the pool to another. I guess they are sort of doing the breast stroke. My water jogging goals are to pass as many jellyfish as many times as possible. Right now I’m not winning that often. They make them tough and fit up here in Boulder.

This week my goal is to water run what I would do normally do on the road i.e. 1 hour road run with tempo means 1hr water run with the same tempo. I’m hoping this will help me keep a little running fitness for when I start running normally.

Last week I also managed to go from two crutches down to one for a couple of days, but that didn’t last long as I got to impatient so I ditched the other one as well. I did have to use the one crutch for longer walks though and now I’m finally walking full time without pain.


My doctor in Germany also told me that I could do anything as long as it didn’t hurt and to use pain as my guide for when it was time to push things to the next level. So some time during the second week I managed to sit on a spin bike for 5 minutes. A little sad, but it actually felt good and really loosened my hip up a lot. I spent the next week just slowly increasing my time on the spin bike. Meanwhile, my poor Kestrel was looking so sad and neglected in the corner so once I got to Boulder I just couldn’t resist riding outside. Joe Gambles was heading out for an easy ride so I thought what the hell so I joined him. It was a little hard for the first 15 minutes, but after that it felt fine so I just kept riding. I managed to get an hour and a half in. Maybe the ride was made easier because of how great and comfortable the Kestrel is. I did a couple of rides around 30 and 40 miles and just in the last couple of days I have picked it up to doing a couple of 2:45 and 3hr rides with no pain. The Kestrel made me do it.

Its just over 4 weeks now and everything is feeling good. I have been getting a lot of physio and now I’m walking with only a small limp. I’m really hoping to try and run sometime this week. If I can achieve this then I think I should be ok to start in the REV3 in South Carolina in 4 weeks.


Since I haven’t started running yet, I’ve had a little extra time. So what else have I been doing besides swimming, water jogging, and riding? Well, I bought a house 2 weeks ago in Boulder. I spent a whole day peeling off wallpaper that wasn’t properly applied and I painted our living room and our bedroom. I still have to paint the bedroom ceiling, which is pink (who does that?) and I need to paint over the one layer of pee-yellow trim in my living room. I bought a chainsaw and hacked down some trees in the back yard. I spent a small fortune on a pear, cherry, and peach tree, which I plan on planting this week, and I did lots of furniture shopping. I also sawed a hole through the new house to build a doggie door. Most of this was done standing on one leg. I also spent a lot of time on Playstation winning wars and such. So I’ve been busy and I’m happy to say I have not been wallowing in misery for the last 4 weeks. Once I can run, Sir Richie will be a very happy guy.

If everything goes to plan then I hope to be back racing in 4 weeks, as I mentioned, at the REV 3 South Carolina. Then I’m heading back to Austin to train for the rest of the year. I’m also planning on racing 70.3 Austin, then Miami 70.3, and then my big goal race for the year now will be the 70.3 in Phuket. After that I’m heading back down under to Australia for the final race of the year in the Canberra 70.3. So even though I have had this minor set back, I still plan to have a big last part of the year.