Running With Asthma

Training Run with Asthma

So I was starting to feel a little cocky about my running, thinking that I just about had this exercise-asthma thing licked.  I’ve lowered my medication, again, and I can run a long distance, so I’m thinking I’m a ‘real’ runner, right?  I got a huge dose of humble pie last week when I ran with another one of the mom’s during our kids’ swim practice.

We started out at a pace that was slow for her and fast for me.  This compromise turned out to be a major disaster for me.  It was only a 10 minute mile.  But, I had to quickly remind myself that “I can’t” run that fast right off the bat.  During the Santa Barbara 10K my average pace was about 10:37.  My fastest mile ever was 8:50, but that was for one mile and then I had to stop.

So here I am, running too fast for the first mile, not wanting to slow down and look like a wimp, not wanting to stop and look like a complete failure, and not being able to breathe.  My lungs made the decision for me.  I had to stop and walk after one mile! Then we started the slow ascent up the hill and my lungs completely rebelled.  “Hello up there, did you forget we have asthma?” they chided.  My running partner finally agreed to run ahead without me.  She ran up the hill, down the hill, and back up the hill without so much as an extra breath. And there I was, walking, gasping for air, and wanting to sit down in the middle of the sidewalk.  Shameful.

Shame on me for not honoring how far I’ve come.  Shame on me for getting too cocky and thinking I was ready for a big run.  Shame on me for not enjoying the journey and being so competitive.  Shame on me for being embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up. And why am I pouring shame all over myself?!

The next day I ran with one of the fathers on the condition that we run ‘really slow’ and he agreed.  He doesn’t run very far anyway.  The first mile was an 11 minute mile and every mile after that was between 11 and 12.  I ran a total of 5.5 miles.  I felt so good!  Great even!  I had so much energy afterward which continued throughout the weekend.

So what’s the takeaway that I need to hear?  I have exercise-induced asthma.  I can run, and I’m getting stronger, and my average pace is improving; I need to remember this.  I need to be okay with being slower than other runners.  My pace does not invalidate my efforts.  It is okay that other runners can run 7 or 8 minute miles and I can only do 10 or 11 minute miles. It is okay because I’m out there participating.  I am a runner.

–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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