Since running, I have really noticed how bad my asthma is in the cold. In fact, it’s been so bad that I took the time to research whether other runners were feeling the same. Turns out, they were, and I soon discovered that there was a common theme occurring. I was not alone.
I didn’t get diagnosed with asthma until I was in my early twenties and it has never posed me any issues. That was until I started running. This January I’ve come down with Pneumonia for the second time in two years. Unfortunately, I believe this has been caused by running in the bitter cold. The freezing cold air is absolutely no good for my lungs and this is a hard pill to swallow. Will I run on the ‘dreadmill’ for colder runs? I just can’t see it. I love the outdoors too much. I can’t think of anything worse than running and not seeing new things and not actually going anywhere!
Will asthma stop me doing the things I love – absolutely not. Asthma UK have actually said ‘Exercise, including cardio vascular exercise like running has amazing benefits for everyone’s health. this includes improving how the lungs actually work. In fact, Jo Pavey is an advocate for running with asthma and says ‘Being fit has improved my asthma so much. When I was at University and not doing much running, I would really struggle for breath going uphill. That just doesn’t happen when I am looking after my fitness’
As well as Jo Pavey, Paula Radcliffe was also diagnosed with exercise induced asthma as the age of fourteen, so it is not impossible to excel at sports because you have asthma. Worth remembering!
For me, I am going to have to ease back into running gently. Unfortunately, cold weather does trigger asthma symptoms because cold air can irritate the airways. I have tried running with a buff – this has helped to warm the air to my lungs beforehand. Asthma UK have initiated the ‘#Scarfie’ and they are encouraging asthma sufferers to wear a scarf over their mouth -www.asthma.org.uk/scarfie
Luckily, I have never been in a position where I have had an asthma attack, but symptoms to be mindful of are;
- A) Wheezing and coughing
- B) Gasping for air
- C) Tightness in the chest
- D) Having trouble speaking short sentences
There are many things you can do to look after yourself if you have asthma.
- A) Take your inhalers. . You can take their inhalers before they leave for their runs to ease the symptoms of asthma
- B) In the summer, Pollen can trigger asthma so run early in the morning before the pollen count is high
- C) Warm up your lungs! Running for a few short minutes before your run will help. A few quick spurts will warm up your lungs for your main run.
- D) Use a scarf over your mouth to warm up your lungs
- E) Carry your inhaler – you know this makes sense!
- F) Consider carrying around an ‘ICE’ tag (in case of emergencies tag).
- G) Tell people about your asthma and what they should do if you were to have an attack.
The key is if you are looking after your symptoms well, you can enjoy any kind of exercise including running. Unfortunately living in the UK means that if you have asthma, you must be extra cautious, especially in the winter months.
If you need further advice on asthma, its worth visiting the asthma UK official website (www.asthma.org.uk).
May your miles be long and your injuries few