The burning lung sensation (aka “Fran Lung”) is commonly felt after workouts such as Fran, or those that are short in duration and extremely high in intensity. The medical term is Exercised Induced Interstitial Pulmonary Edema. Many people complain of coughing, the feeling of mucus in their lungs, and possibly a metallic taste. There is evidence to suggest that the integrity of the lung blood-gas barrier (BGB) in elite athletes is altered after short-term maximal exercise (think short met-cons…).
Getting even more technical…. it’s a form of flash pulmonary edema where you body is essentially drowning itself. Primarily due to the high rep, moderate weight thrusters and the short time in which they’re done, your body consumes a large amount of oxygen and generates a lot of lactic acid quickly. These both create a massive drive to breathe and blow off the acid (as carbon dioxide) and breathe in O2. Since people who do Fran are generally young and very fit, your diaphragm and chest wall muscles are able to generate a huge amount of force when breathing in. This creates a large negative pressure gradient in your lungs that actually sucks fluid out of the capillaries within your lungs and into the airspaces themselves. Although the amount of fluid is relatively small, it’s enough to slightly impair your ability to exchange O2 and CO2 and make you feel like you’re drowning (burning, coughing, air hunger). It generally takes at least 20-30 minutes for your body to reabsorb enough fluid back into your lung capillaries to get rid of most of the symptoms, but it can take 12-24 hours to reabsorb all the fluid which is why it takes so long to feel right again.
So if you developed a cough Tuesday, it’s likely Fran, not Flu!