I've been thinking about your situation for awhile. a) Are you using stair work to prepare for a sport? How are you in your overall cardiovascular training?How long or fast do you run? The term "winded" is hard to guage what shape you're in. In general, walking/hiking and jogging/running are two slightly different muscular movements. From my own experience, I've focused on high knees and quick feet in addition to arm swings to help me up the steps. This is good preparation work for hill training. Hope this helps a little. Good luck.
My gym is on the 4th floor of an old factory. The most common statement I hear each day when a client comes in is "Those stairs kill me!". Even though we carry sandbags up and down those same stairs as part of our routine, I don't see the same reaction.
I get in at 530am and walk those stairs every morning. My quads are burning by the last few steps. Later, during my own workout, I will caryy an 80lb sand bag down and up and not have the same burn or the same "windedness".
Maybe you get winded more quickly walking up the stairs to the gym because you are not warmed up and the pathways that clear any lactic acid aren't warmed up either.
When you sprint up the stairs, the duration of the activity doesn't let much lactic acid build up. But, walking up the stairs takes longer and allows more lactic acid to build up.
Plus, while you are sprinting up the stairs you are using more momentum by arm swings or pulling yourself up the stairs using the railing. Walking up the stairs you are going pretty slowly and using much less momentum.
my best guess would be you're always burning a mix of air, sugar and fat. at lower levels of effort you're primarily on an aerobic metabolism and you're winded 'cause you're not so efficient at processing larger amounts of oxygen for fuel- you haven't yet added more sugar to the mix.
sprinting up the stairs you burn mostly glycogen already stored in your muscles. and you can do that w/ out even breathing- for a short time variable on your conditoning and the type of training you do. (there are guys who run the 400 w/o breathing for instance) this will catch up to you later however and you'll have to make it up somewhere -oxygen debt. so you will be breathing after sprinting four flights of stairs, just maybe not on the stairs.
I think its all in the head. Kinda Like lifting a 60lbs. dumbbell feeling lighter in the gym than your mother in laws 40 lbs. suitcase at the airport. Thats why preparation is key. There's a book out "Mind Gym" that's about preparation for performance check it out. Its a great read.
I do a similar event each year to benefit leukemia research. It's called, funnily enough, the Big Climb for Leukemia. We climb the Columbia Center tower for a total of 1300 stairs or 59 flights. It's not so much an endurance event as it is a lactic acid threshold kind of thing. Firefighters tend to make it up in 10 minutes with full gear.
Help. What do you mean? You just need to improve your fitness. Add some energy systems work if it's something that's really improtant to you. An interval workout and maybe a run or two a week of a couple miles at a decent clip but nothing too taxing. If you are actively bulking, however, that amount might be counter-prodcutive
It's very obvious... you lack functional strength!
Sarcasm aside, this was actually a joke between me and my friend in high school. We would walk up two flights of stairs back from the cafeteria and practically need to take a rest. Two hours later we'd be running windsprints at practice and barely even be breathing hard.
I agree with what has been said before, it's very mental. You are not in the exercise mindset, so you aren't preparing your body for an increase in activity.