Running With Asthma

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Running With Asthma

Postby gallifrey » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:30 am UTC

Hello all! I am 20, and somewhat in shape (though not as much as I would like to be), but ever since I was a young girl, I have had chronic and exercised induced asthma. Cold, winter air makes it much more difficult to breathe, and I have allergies that bother me in most of the months that aren't cold. I do take medication, and all of this is under control for most things I would do- including marching band in the fall and swing dancing multiple times every week. In high school, I played soccer and basketball, and aside from the occasional asthma attack, my lungs could handle the exercise.

I've never seriously tried to run just for the sake of running. Well, maybe a few times, but mostly I've always just used my asthma as an excuse. I would tell people that I can't run because I have asthma. I actually did try to run a 5k once. I gave my inhaler to a friend to carry for some reason, and I ended up falling behind her, not being able to breathe, almost passing out due to lack of oxygen, walking most of the way, and almost giving up in the middle. And It was only a 5k! I couldn't keep up with my 60 year old band director! It was really frustrating to me to physically be unable to do something as simple as running. It made me mad at myself that such a silly thing as my lungs could hold me back. Yet instead of taking this as a motivator that I would push myself and not take no for an answer, I decided to even more adamantly refuse to run, to avoid it at all costs, and to keep using my asthma as an excuse to anyone who ever brought up running.

I want to run.

I've decided to finally take control of this and learn to deal with my health issues and work around them. I want to push myself and train my body (lungs) to deal with the increased stress of a run. I don't want to make any more excuses. I don't want to be held back by anything.

So here's the plan. I'm going to do intervals of walking and running, starting with long periods of walking and short periods of running, and each week I want to increase the running time and decrease the walking time until I can run for a long(ish) period of time with no walking breaks in the middle. I think I want to follow this plan, but I'm not entirely sure. I also read somewhere that if you have asthma, a good way to work up to a good solid block of running is to set an easy time target and complete that with mixed running and walking- not necessarily in any set pattern, but running until your chest tightens and then walking until it's better- working up to completing that time purely with running. I like this idea because there's not as much pressure to run a certain amount right off the bat, but I feel like I would be less motivated to actually run it through if I had no real timeframe. Does anyone have any input on either of these?

Today: I intended on doing the week one walk 6 min, run 1, 3x, but I misread it and ended up walking 7 min, and running 1. Sortof. After the first round, I felt that I could handle running for more than 1 minute at a time, so I ran for 2 minute intervals after the first one! And I entirely misjudged the fact that I need to get back to my starting point so I ended up throwing in another rep at the end. I suck at this. :oops:
Ended up with a total of 2.3 miles in 38 minutes. Each interval of running got slooooooower. But it's a start!
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Re: Running With Asthma

Postby gaurwraith » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:31 am UTC

I don't know actually, but I ran once with a guy who had asthma, and he was damn fast and had lots of endurance. I mean, I barely managed to crawl up the hills behind him, and I've always been a decent runner. He also said it was good for him.
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Re: Running With Asthma

Postby Jplus » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:53 am UTC

I'm completely un-knowledgeable about this, but I just wanted to say you seem to have the right spirit! Go for it, I wish you lots of fun and improvement!
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Re: Running With Asthma

Postby Samik » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:47 pm UTC

Don't have asthma, but in high school I ran track, and there was one kid on our track team who had a pretty severe case. He was already in reasonably ok running shape when he joined, though he had to hit the inhaler constantly at first.

By the end of my second year on the team, I never saw him touch the thing anymore. (And he was a heck of a lot faster than me.)



You've got a handicap, for sure, so it's a harder challenge for you than most, but it is doable. Just keep at it.





(My gut instinct would be to base your runs on how you feel, rather than picking arbitrary times/distances/speeds. I mean, if you start flaring up, you're not going to finish that set anyway, so any objectives are really only going to serve as limitations.)
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Re: Running With Asthma

Postby Proginoskes » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:24 am UTC

I've heard that swimming is good exercise if you have asthma; the water keeps your throat from drying out.

(I don't have a source on this, so don't consider it to be SOUND MEDICAL ADVICE, or whatever.)
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Re: Running With Asthma

Postby t1mm01994 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:38 pm UTC

Advise from a fellow asthmatic here:

I'm a bit on the younger side (17) but I get the draft of your story, and have way older asthmatic family members that are trying to do th same (added bonus: I've got non-chronic bronchitis).

Basically, your plan sounds decent with the information given.
Some general advice:
1: Don't push yourself too far. Vomiting after finishing your planned times is not nice... And it does happen if you push yourself too far.
2: Especially in colder times, dont be afraid to use your inhaler. It allows you to build stamina.
3: Following a schedule is nice, but don't follow it too strictly. It gets most people either bored because of the slow start, or nearly killed because of it being too steep afterwards.
4: Listen to your body, in the cliché sense off the word. If you feel like not having enough air, stop. If you feel like you've got energy to spare, run more!

I believe I've run out of clichés, so that's it for today.. If you want more aspecific advice, I'm always ready.
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Re: Running With Asthma

Postby Azo » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:26 am UTC

Your situation sounds really similar to mine. Been an asthmatic for as long as I can remember (20 years old here as well), with real bad allergies. I've dealt with the frustrations just simply not being able to breathe while running, but I just love running too much to not do it. By no means am I an excellent runner or in top shape, but I try to get out and run 2 or 3 times a week. The plan you linked to looks like a great start to help slowly build your way into being able to run for longer, but if you follow it don't get too bothered trying to stick to it exactly. If you end up falling behind the plan a little, sometimes that can be yet another turnoff to wanting to run (I fell into that trap myself several years ago when I first got into running).

I personally do the second, more flexible plan you mentioned. When I go out, I try to set aside about 1-1.5 hours where I start out running until I feel like I need to take it easy and then switch to a fairly fast paced walk until I either feel good enough to run again or it's time to call it a day. I run in a local park by a river, and since I don't follow a set time frame, I set my own personal goals that I try to meet every few weeks (like instead of running to the first bend and then walking, try and work my way up to running straight to the next bend). That way it's a loose time frame where I don't feel pressured to meet it, but it's still a tangible goal to achieve. In the end though, it all comes down to what works best for you. After all, I'd say running is more mental work than physical, with or without asthma.

Also, I'd echo everything t1mm01994 said. Only you know what your limits are. Definitely push them, but within reason. I've also found it useful to find someone to run with. They can provide some healthy competition to help make you, plus if you can keep up a conversation with them while you run where you find yourself doing a lot of talking, I've found it can help stave off some of the asthma symptoms for a little longer. Just another thing to help keep your morale up.

Keep us updated on how your self-training goes! It always helps to have people vested in what you do.

I've heard that swimming is good exercise if you have asthma; the water keeps your throat from drying out.

(I don't have a source on this, so don't consider it to be SOUND MEDICAL ADVICE, or whatever.)


I also swam for a year-round club team back in high school, and in my personal experience this doesn't work out. Whatever benefit (if any) you get from hydrating your throat in the pool is completely negated by all the wonderful chemicals like chlorine that can stifle the air and bring on symptoms even more quickly than from exercise alone. 3 hour practices in an indoor pool could be living hell from the humidity and chlorine kept under the roof (and I'm not even considering our workout routines...)
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