Running With Asthma

Run Marathon with Asthma

The first words I associate with running are “I want to,” and the second set of words to come in rapid succession are “I can’t.”  It took me awhile to honestly recognize this. When I’m running my regular trail, I often look at the hill in front of me and say to myself, “okay, I’m going to run up today instead of walk,” and then the next thing I find myself saying is, “I can’t.”  I can’t because my lungs will close.  I can’t because I won’t be able to breathe.  I can’t because I have a disability.  I can’t because I’m not strong enough.  I can’t because I have exercise-induced asthma.  I can’t.

Some of the most recent comments left on the home page of this web site deal with “I can’t.”  The lady in the military says that her superiors think she is lazy and not trying hard enough.  Another lady runs with her husband and can’t keep up.  Another lady wants to run a full marathon but as soon as she hits a certain mileage, she’s suddenly symptomatic. The words “I can’t” are so powerful.  When others say we can’t, we mistakenly believe them.  I seriously doubt that the lady in the military is lazy.  She wouldn’t be there if she were. But we believe the lie, that we can’t.

Last month my husband and I ran a 10K in Santa Barbara, CA.  It was so, so gorgeous. It was 10 miles along the coastline; 5 out and 5 back. The weather was picture perfect: clear, 58-65 degrees, little breeze.  I had so much fun taking in the scenery, thanking God that my body could participate in the run…and then the unthinkable happened. I posted a PR. I would have to go back and look up my official time but I think it was about 1:48:21.  My average speed was a 10:46 mile (remember that when I started running my average speed was a 15 minute mile!). I remember feeling so good as I was running.  No anxiety, no pressure, just enjoying the run and taking it all in.  I can run well.

This past Sunday my husband and I ran to a historic park behind our neighborhood.  It is exactly 4 miles, out and back.  The 2 miles to get there are up a slight hill (I’m guessing a 2-4% incline). It is the first time I ran the whole way up the hill without stopping. Upon our arrival, my husband said, “let’s go another mile; I want to show you the canyon.”  “I can’t,” said the peanut gallery in my head. But we pressed on and I watched my Garmin like a hawk.  As soon as we hit the mile, and not a second after, I stopped and said, “That’s a mile.”  “The trail I want to show you is just up ahead, let’s keep going.” “I can’t,” said the peanut gallery but we kept going, at a walk.  Finally, the trail was close but there was a bigger hill to get there so I said no and we turned around. I believed the lie that I couldn’t.

We started running back toward the house, which was  now 3.5 miles away.  The chatter in my head was ridiculous:  I didn’t prepare for all these extra miles, I only prepared for a total of 4.  I didn’t eat enough, I didn’t drink enough; I can’t do this.  We ran the whole way back, except to say hi to a friend coming toward us on his bike.

I can run.  My body is stronger than I think.  I felt completely fine when we got back; great even. It is my mind that is weak.  It is my mind that tells me that I can’t “because I have asthma.”  Whenever someone asks me about my running, I usually start off with, “well, I have asthma…”  Translation: I can’t run as well as you because I have a defect. I can’t.

Yes, I can.  I just have to believe that.  I have to choose to believe that.

I did not pass out after the run on Sunday. I felt good. My mind is trying so hard to hold me back from running because the mind is a powerful thing; more powerful than the lungs.

–Tara Schiro is the author of No Arms, No Legs, No Problem: When life happens, you can wish to die or choose to live NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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