Running With Asthma


Asthma Improved with Running

Well, it’s official.  In my last entry I alluded that I might be on to something, that my exercise-induced asthma was actually better with more mileage.  This seems like an oxymoron because exercise asthma basically means I’m allergic to exercise.  But, I’ve noticed a huge difference between running 2 or 3 miles and running 6 or 8 miles. I’ll tell you the real kicker in a minute, but first, some context. 

Other kinds of asthma (“regular asthma” for lack of a better term) is allergy related.  If you are allergic to scents, dust, animal dander, etc., then for the most part, you can remove yourself from the allergen trigger and your asthma will subside; the airways in your lungs will stop swelling and will begin to relax.  Of course, you might need the aid of an Albuterol if the swelling is severe enough.

But, with exercise-induced asthma, in my particular case anyway, since my trigger is exercise, it is a little more difficult to remove myself from the trigger.  For example, if I run, the airways in my lungs react and become swollen, constricting the air flow. Once this happens, as long as my body is still in motion, my lungs think we are still exercising and therefore keep swelling.  So I personally have a hard time running in the morning or middle of the day because I still have to get through the rest of the day: straightening the house, vaccuuming, work, laundry, shuffling kids, grocery, etc, etc.  As long as I’m still moving, my lungs cannot relax and I cannot attend to my duties as mom, businesswoman and wife.  To combat this, I run in the evening and then sleep it off.

On a side note, my husband has prepared dinner many times when I’ve over-exerted myself and helped with putting the kids to bed while I laid on the couch or bed trying to keep myself from moving into a full-blown asthma attack.  God bless him and his patience is this area.  His other areas are not so patient but that’s another story and another blog!

Now,  here is the interesting part.  I’ve gotten to the point that if I don’t exercise my lungs begin to be symptematic.  I’ve also noticed that I am much more symptematic after running 2 -3 miles than I am after running 4-8 miles.  And, here is the real kicker:  I’ve decreased my Advair from 250 to 150.  More running, less medication!  My Dr. wasn’t too sure about me lowering the dosage but I insisted I wanted to try because I was feeling so much better.  I told her I could always go back.  But, 2 weeks later, I’m still feeling great. 

Last week I got myself into some trouble with all the increased running.  I discovered I was overtraining for the upcoming 1/2 marathon.  My legs were killing me.  My body was tired.  My lungs kept up, which was a welcome relief, but the rest of me couldn’t handle it.  This, I’m told, is a classic beginner mistake.  Too much, too soon.  So I took a break.  A funny thing happend.  By Sunday evening (3 days after my last painful run), and yesterday (Monday) afternoon, my lungs felt like they were closing!  Because of all the resting and taking it easy, fluid was building up, my voice changed, I had to keep taking deep breaths.  My lungs needed the exercise to open back up. 

So last night, for my long run for the week, I ran 8 miles.  This included 3 miles of cross country hills.  I did fine!  My body was rested, my lungs sucked in the air and for the first time, I felt like they were actually thanking me for the exercise instead of punishing me.  They want to work!  I like to run, but I guess I will  be running whether I like it or not because if I rest too much, and don’t get enough exercise, my lungs react by swelling the airways.

The key for me, and the hard part because I’m impatient, is to go slow.  I tried really, really hard last night to keep myself at a 12 minute mile because I was going far, but I coudn’t do it.  My body wants to be at a 10 minute mile.  My brain and my heart want to do an 8 minute mile but that’s for the future.  I ran the 8 miles in 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Through the hills I did 12 minute miles so I must have gone faster than a 10 minute mile somewhere along the way.  The Garmin ran out of battery so I will never know.

If you’re struggling with this like I am, there’s hope!  I think I’m going to start my own definition of exercise-induced asthma.  Instead of being allergic to exercise, I’m going to say that my lungs are addicted to exercise and I have to feed the addiction or they will rebel.  This time,  not from exercise, but from the lack of it.


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