Breathing issues mid marathon - Questions

Wondering if anyone has had the same issues or experience as me...

Back last April I ran the London Marathon. It was the hottest ever, and training had been completed at around 7 or 8 degrees, not the 28 of race day.

Around miles 18/19, I saw family and got a bit emotional, lump in the throat sort of thing, and around 200 metres after I set off again it became hard to breathe. I slowed and took some deep breaths and everything eventually seemed to ease off. Stopped at the next medical tent and they gave me some Lucozade, a pat on the back and I carried on. Another few times along the route I struggled to breathe so eased off and took some deep breaths each time. I managed to finish, and after around mile 24 wasn't having any further breathing issues. Seemingly no issues when I've run afterwards but granted nothing over 10 miles since.

I will add I'm not a small guy. 6 foot 5 and 19 stone so I appreciate weight may come into it somewhere but having not had issues previously I wondered if anyone else experienced the same?

I understand asking here is going to prompt suggestions to speak to a medical professional which I have already done (they seemed to gloss over my question and not seem too bothered which I suppose is positive!) but I have put my name forward to run for charity again in 2020. Nothing like this happened in training at all.


  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    Sounds like you had a few periods of oxygen debt - where basically your body is using the oxygen in your system quicker than you take it in.  I suspect that when you stopped to see your family, you were talking to them, hugging them, etc., and your breathing pattern changed.  You start off running again and your body has to catch up with the reduced amount of oxygen, so makes you breathe harder.  As the race went on, and lactic acid builds up, you may have had further periods of a similar nature (your body needs oxygen to metabolise the lactic acid).  Temperature may well have exacerbated the issue.

    The only way to avoid it is to train your body and increase  your lactic threshold.  However, you did the correct thing on the day by easing off and breathing deeply.

    On the upside, it shows that you were running to your limit and just catching it before it became a problem.  It probably wouldn't have happened in training because you would normally train at a slower pace on long runs, and faster runs would be shorter.
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