Underwater breathing

I have chronic asthma and need daily medication to keep my asthma controlled.  Each morning I take a steroid inhaler as well as an albuterol inhaler before I run. On bad days, I may need to use a nebulizer.  However, I do not let asthma stand in my way or prevent me from completing any physical activity, particularly running.  When faced with a challenge or limit, I do not retreat but rather use it as fuel to drive me forward, overcoming any obstacle in my way. Similarly, asthma will not get the best of me!

People often tell me that running and asthma are a bad mix, and they ask why I run and how can I compete in marathons. I often will look at these people and wonder if it’s more about me or more about them. Often, I find that people will look for excuses to shy away from activities that may be hard, challenge them, or scare them. Well, not me.  My mantra these past few months as I train for the New Jersey Marathon  (just a few short weeks away), has been to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

I am trying to work toward fully exploring my limits. I want to see what my body is capable of and try to get faster so I can hopefully break a four-hour marathon, or a least get a little closer! If I didn’t allow myself to get a little uncomfortable each time I ran, I would never run. I could say that it’s too hard and use my asthma as an excuse not to do it. However, I continue to run because I can and I love it. With proper supervision from my doctor and a boost from my inhalers, I know that my asthma is under control and I am good to go. In fact, running has helped to increase my lung capacity and strengthen my respiratory system so my asthma attacks are less frequent.

Running was a lot harder when I first started, but if you want something bad enough you have to be willing to be patient, take time to train, and get a little uncomfortable. I promise that if you do, you will be surprised by the results. You will see how strong you are and what you are capable of.  Don’t make an excuse as to why you can’t do something; instead find a reason why you can and why you should.  You can achieve anything you put your mind to!

Here are some helpful hints to consider when running with asthma, or not, so you can breathe and be safe!

  • In the cold weather, cover your nose and mouth so the moist air you exhale will help humidify the air you inhale.
  • Run inside on high pollen days.
  • Control your breathing rate and depth; breathe from your diaphragm.
  • Breathe through your nose.
  • Drink fluids as needed.
  • Always carry your fast-acting inhaler.
  • Use your inhaler several minutes before exercise. It may reduce your chances of an exercise-induced asthma attack.
  • Incorporate a warm-up and cool-down.

Have fun and happy running!