Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Running with Asthma

Asthma, as defined by moi, is a big bad bully standing between me and my running. That's all there is to it. Asthma is simply my own personal irritating obstacle that I plan to eliminate. I'm working out the details.

I was diagnosed with "moderate persistent" asthma just after Kaylee was born. Symptoms popped up during my eighth month of pregnancy and were severe enough that I had to take prednisone for it. I was hoping the trigger was hormonal, but it didn't go away after Kaylee was born. Eventually I went to an allergist who tested me for every allergy under the sun, but to no avail. It seems my trigger is not allergy related.

I probably had mild asthma as a child, but not bad enough to actually get a diagnosis for it, and I only ever had an inhaler when I was extremely sick. Now though, it's a completely different story. Sometimes it's worse than others. Over the summer, I thought maybe the whole asthma thing was getting better, then came September. When I visited the Allergist in late September and told him I was having more trouble but no trigger that I could pinpoint, he suggested the temperature change. "Really?" I asked skeptically "because 60 degrees doesn't seem all that cold to me." To which he replied "True, but a few weeks ago it was 80's and 90's." I was training for a marathon at the time so we went through what my game plan should be, which mostly consisted of me taking my various inhalers at the appropriate intervals. The marathon did not go well. Asthma being a big factor to the over all badness (although admittedly not the sole factor).

After the marathon, I diligently stuck with the inhalers, but was still having issues. I tried a week hiatus from exercise, still no better. A week after that, I stopped taking the inhalers. They weren't really helping anyway. That same week I decided I'd still exercise, but only what I could do without wheezing. A "just keep moving" approach. I think it worked. That first week was hard. My chest felt tight all the time and my running/biking was extremely slow, but the next week the tightness was a little bit better and I got a little bit faster. Then I threw in some workouts, which went well too. On Thanksgiving, I ran a 5K and did fairly well for someone who couldn't breath a few weeks earlier. I did use both my Advair and Albuterol inhalers the morning of the race and I did wheeze a bit for the rest of the day, but overall the race was a success. Since the 5K I haven't been taking either of my inhalers. My chest is still tight when I wake up in the morning, but I'm not wheezing, so whatever. I think some of the chest tightness might be from the dry air. Winter time is so much drier and the heating system makes the air even drier.

Just keep moving is my new asthma treatment. For me that means at least 60 minutes of cardio a day (running, biking, rowing). It doesn't have to be hard, but it has to get done. The day before the 5K I did 80 minutes on the bike and totaled 9 hours of cardio that week. I'm sure there must be a scientific explanation of why this is helping. I don't know what that explanation is though. I'm also sure that what I've done isn't the solution for everyone, and I would never suggest that anyone exchange needed medication for exercise. I am pleased that I seem to have discovered a method of dealing with my asthma without constantly being on drugs.

What are your thoughts? Anyone out there have asthma? Do you think I'm crazy?

On another note...I only got 30 miles in this week. Arg! That Sunday snow storm threw my schedule my schedule off.

Training Summary for 12/14-12/20:
Total Miles Run: 30.5
Total Time Run: 4:21
Average Pace: 8:33
Total Stationary Bike Time: 4:45


Running and living said...

I am glad you found something that works. I don't know much about asthma, but I am a strong believer in the power of exercise. I also dislike meds. Don't worry about a 30 miles week. It's still 9 hours of exercise, which is great!

Nicole said...

I'm really glad that you don't let asthma be "an excuse" for not exercising!! You go girl!

lindsay said...

i used to have a hard time with exercise-induced asthma, but i kind of 'grew out' of it for the most part. i still get tight some days, but i no longer have to use an inhaler every day. i'm sorry i can't fully sympathize with you!

hope you and your family had a very merry christmas!