Running with Asthma

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Hi, Pretty Muddy ladies! I hope your summer has gotten off to a great start. Get out there and enjoy some sunshine! (And then come back inside for some air conditioning and ice cold lemonade.)

Summer can be a little tough if you have asthma, especially if you live in an area with very high humidity. I have asthma and I live in Florida, so I know this firsthand. And when you add running or training for an obstacle run like Pretty Muddy to the mix, it can get even tougher. But the good news is that running with asthma is entirely possible – you just have to take a few extra steps to keep yourself healthy.

Here are some of the things that I’ve found to be helpful:

  1. Always, always, always see your doctor BEFORE you start running or training. Running is a high intensity sport, and your doctor can help determine whether your body and lungs are up for the challenge.
  2. Don’t start running (or any new sport) if your asthma is not under control. Wait until you have a treatment plan that’s working, even if it means having to postpone a race or obstacle run. Wait until the next one comes around. Seriously. It’s not worth the risk.
  3. Carry your rescue inhaler with you at all times. Period. There are a number of belts and pouches that you can purchase to wear during a run. Most of them are small and unobtrusive – they sit snug on your hips or around your waist so they don’t jiggle or bounce, and they don’t look big and dorky like fanny packs. (My apologies to fanny pack wearers everywhere.) Another option is to wear running skirts or shorts with pockets. Lots of them come with a small zippered pockets that are just the right size to hold an inhaler .
  4. Consider using your quick-relieve asthma medications (like Albuterol) as a preventative medication before a run. Some runners (myself included) find it helpful to take a dose before a run. But talk to your doctor about this first!
  5. Start out slowly and give your lungs time to adjust. Skipping your warm-up can lead to an asthma attack. For me, the first two miles are the most difficult. But after I huff and puff my way through them, my lungs start to become adjusted to the demands of my run, and I’m able to begin breathing more comfortably.
  6. Know your triggers and avoid them! Pollen is a common one, as are other outdoor allergens. And extreme temperatures (either hot or cold) can trigger an asthma attack too. Try to adjust your running schedule to avoid running at the coldest or hottest times of day. If you have access to a treadmill, use it during extreme temperatures. I know running on a treadmill stinks. Do it anyway.
  7. Wear a medical alert tag or bracelet that indicates that you have asthma. In an emergency, this can save first responders valuable time.
  8. Be SAFE and SMART! Know your body and know your limits. Learn to recognize your symptoms before you get into trouble. And pay attention to your body. If you start to wheeze, cough, or have difficulty breathing, take a break. Even if you don’t want to. Find some shade, drink some water, and use your inhaler. Run with a friend, and make sure that she knows that you have asthma. Carry your cell phone, or make sure that at least one person in your group has a phone.

Do you have asthma? What else can you add to this list? Head over to Mommy Runs It and join the conversation!

Breathe easy, friends.


Author: Sharon Wilhelm

Hi, I'm Sharon! I'm a mommy and a marathon runner, and I'm doing my best to balance both without losing my mind. Sometimes I even find time to blog about it. Stop by and say hi!