Lingering hunger for air/Breathlessness after short sprints.

Hello all,

Hope you can help with a reoccurring issue I seem to be having.

I'm 33 and as far as I'm aware of good overall health but have only recently taken up running in the past 12 months.
Previous fitness experience is mainly weight training, light on the cardio.

So far I've completed runs of 5k, 10k and 15k without any issues to my breathing after, however short hard sprints leave me with long lasting breathlessness where I feel I can't get enough air.

Short history and detail,
First episode was in April 2020, I completed a short sprint (3k) at max effort to see what time I could get, couldn't catch my breath after and as mentioned previously, I felt like I couldn't get enough air into my lungs - thinking I'd just overdone it I waited to see if this passed - after 4 days of feeling air hungry I called my doctor (over the phone appointment due to Covid), I was told its probably exercise induced asthma as I'd had very mild Asthma between ages 11-13.
I found this a bit odd as I'd never had any issues prior to this with any other training but I'm not a Doctor so I used the inhaler as prescribed.
The inhaler did nothing to improve my symptoms and after a further 3-4 days of still experiencing air hunger I took myself to hospital.

Heart checked - good
Blood pressure - good
Oxygen levels - good
Breathing - lungs sounded good, nothing out of the ordinary
Covid test - negative

Doctor said that I'd probably just overdone it and that if symptoms got worse then return to hospital.

Symptoms persisted for another 2 -3 days after the hospital visit and then suddenly, overnight disappeared, breathing completely back to normal - no issues. :|

I got back to running but stayed away from sprinting and had no issues at all, I felt great again.

So fast forward to Last week (Monday 18th Jan) and I decide to try a 3k sprint again, max effort as fast as I could.
Low and behold the breathing/air hunger is back :'( I've had it for just a little over a week now and once again overnight my symptoms have disappeared and I'm breathing normal.

Is it that I'm simply pushing myself too hard? Is a week/2weeks of breathlessness normal in this case?
or am I better off dragging myself back to the docs?

Has anyone ever experienced something similar?

Many thanks in advance for your help/advice :)


  • I've experienced air hunger in the past but due to anxiety. Felt like I couldn't get a deep enough breath and couldn't enjoy a yawn. Is that what you mean by your air hunger? Since all your observations are good it could be worth trying mindfulness / meditation and if it makes you anxious you know what the problem is at least, and if not it could help. Aside from the GP I wouldn't know what else to check for, if you are fit then you should be able to push but maybe you can shorten the sprint and work up?
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