My Love/Hate Relationship With Running: Exercise-Induced Asthma Sucks

I have a dreamy vision of myself as being a runner.  The kind with lean leg muscles, moving gracefully down the path with a smile that says she is pushing herself and feeling great.  But the reality is that I am NOT a “runner.”  I have short stocky legs, and despite yoga and running making me strong, I am not lean.  And I am not a graceful runner.  In fact, no matter how often I run, or how much distance I work up to, its a crap shoot if I will be able to go a block without becoming completely winded.

I have exercise induced asthma (EIA).  Diagnosed in 7th grade, when I complained of not being able to do anything in PE.  I started treatment then, which allowed me to be a very active person.  Even now, I take a breathing treatment before I run.  If I don’t take it, I can’t get off my block.  But even with the treatment, there are many days that it isn’t fully effective and I can’t get more than a block or two without symptoms.

Exercise induced asthma symptoms are the same as any asthma.  Tightening of the chest, wheezing, difficulty catching one’s breath, and even a burning sensation in my lungs.  It sucks.  And when exercising, if the symptoms come on, it very well may mean the end of the work out.  Even if it has only been 5 minutes.  Sometimes I can slow waaaaaaaay down and regain my breath and then just walk.

I did speak with my doctor about this; she put me on Singulair — but I took myself off after experiencing negative side effects.  So I am resigned to dealing with my EIA, and I hate it.  It is very tempting to give up this running nonsense altogether, especially on days like today where I had such a bad reaction.  But I happen to love running.  See, a real love/hate thing can exist!

I try to feel lucky that I can predict the onset of my asthma.  Many asthma sufferers have attacks with no clear (or controllable) trigger, and that has to suck even more than knowing that exercise is a trigger.

Today will go down as a hateful attempt to run.  Hopefully tomorrow I will have the nerve to try again, because the trails are beautiful now, the weather perfect, and bathing suit season is approaching fast!

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3 thoughts on “My Love/Hate Relationship With Running: Exercise-Induced Asthma Sucks

  1. Awesome article! I suffer from the same problem. I can run on 5.0 for a while without trouble, but as soon as I step it up to 6.0 I have breathing trouble–I can run up to 3.5 minutes before I have to stop. Even if I use my inhaler 15 minutes before (like it’s prescribed), I have trouble. And yes, I want a runner’s body–the legs mainly! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for your comments! Have you tried increasing your pace in intervals? I’ve found that intervals help me increase time but I suspect it would work for speed, too (e.g. 3 mins at 5, 2 mins at 5.5, 1 min at 6.0, walk for 1 min, repeat…) But even at my peak the asthma can knock me out in minutes, too! Glad to know I’m not alone 🙂

      1. No problem! I searched for EIA on Pinterest and your article came up! Tomorrow is my running morning (I have to run when I first wake up or it will not get done!), I will try to gradually increase my speed instead of going straight from 3 to 6. I am doing a couch to 5K plan that lasts 9 weeks. I am currently on week 4, and I will repeat it next week since I couldn’t run the prescribed 5 minutes.

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