Running with Asthma

As I mentioned in my initial post, I have asthma. My first experience with it was 17 years ago, and I’ve known I had asthma for 13 years, but I didn’t get treated for it until about 4 years ago when it got really bad.


There are a couple things that will trigger my asthma. One is cats. I love cats. I grew up with them, and I adopted my sweethearts Oscar and Vera from a rescue in December 2007. The other is cardio exercise. This is the main reason I’ve never ran before now.

Around the time I got my cats, my asthma started getting worse (go figure). However, it prompted me to finally go see a doctor and get treatment. I was put on Singulair first, but it didn’t help at all, so my doctor switched me to Advair, aka the Wonder Drug. For the first time that I could remember, I could breathe well and not have to worry about NOT breathing over the course of my routine day.

While my asthma no longer acted up around my cats, I did still get wheezy when I tried cardio and would have to use my albuterol inhaler.

I want to let all the asthmatics know right now: you can’t let this stop you.

Since I’ve started regularly running, my asthma has improved. I used to use my albuterol inhaler before running to prevent any wheeziness during the run. When I forgot it, I would tend to get wheezy about a mile in. However, over the course of my training, that has changed. I don’t know when, but one day I forgot the inhaler. I realized it, but didn’t want to stop my run. So I kept going. And never got wheezy.

Now I can do an easy six mile interval run without needing it at all. If I’m doing speed work, I may sometimes still need it, but it’s not like it used to be.

Some tips for those of you with asthma who may consider running but are scared:

  • Always have your inhaler with you or nearby where you can get to it quickly. Though I no longer really need mine, I always have it nearby (either in my car or in my house, depending on where I’m running) for short runs or on me for long runs.
  • Start out slow. Don’t be a speed demon. It’s going to probably take some extra time for you to build speed than it would a non-asthmatic. Don’t worry about it and just focus on building your endurance.
  • If you start to get wheezy, slow down to a walk or even stop. Do it before you can’t breathe at all. It’s okay. I highly advocate the Galloway method, which is intervals of running and walking. I couldn’t get through my long runs without doing this right now.
  • Remember that having an asthma attack is more exhausting and taxing on your body than running is, so make sure you listen to your body.

Any other asthmatics out there have anything to add?

4 thoughts on “Running with Asthma

  1. I came across your blog looking up Asthma tips on pintrest. I’ve been Asthmatic since I was 7 or 8 years old. I’m 33 now, and just in the last 3 years I’ve finally got my asthma under better control, were I can go days without my rescue inhaler!! It all started with picking up Zumba and other cardio activities at the gym. Just recently my personal trainer challenged me to start running more, since I like doing obstacle courses (mud runs), but obviously most of them require running to one obstacle to another and I would get winded quickly between obstacles or just quit and walk it. Last week I did my first 5k NONSTOP! I’ve never been so proud. Until the last 3 years, I’ve used asthma as an excuse as to why I didn’t workout, but after having kids I gained some major weight and had to do something about it. Kudos to you for kicking asthma in the butt and picking up running. The only tip I have is if running outside in the cold, wear a sports face mask. It’s annoying for me to wear, but it helps. Oh, I’m also allergic to cats, too, but own two for almost 17 years now. A tip with them, bath them once a month and don’t let them in your bedroom. 😉

  2. Pingback: Progressive Runner | Week of 10/28/13 – 11/3/13

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