Wednesday, November 17, 2010

shin spints:(noun)- 1.evil incarnate 2.opposite of fun

So shin splints are no beuno, but I'm trying to power through them. I still haven't missed a workout :)
Speaking of workouts, I wanted to share my training plan. I'm just following the Disney Princess Half Marathon Training Plan. It's super easy in that its only 3 days a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays are just 30 minute maintenance runs and Saturdays are the long runs. I sometimes do my Saturday runs on Sundays if my schedule is too busy, but otherwise I follow it pretty religiously. 

The hardest part so far, for me, has been my asthma issues or my own head games because of my asthma. With the asthma it's hard to find what works. I tried all different kinds of pacing for the first few workouts and have found that the more breaks from running I take the better my asthma can handle it. In other words, its better for me to run a minute and walk a minute than to run 5 minutes and walk 5. I totally thought the opposite just because I thought having more time to recover would help my lungs keep up. Who knew? Also, focusing on how I'm breathing is super annoying but really important. My mom is a nurse and she gave me a great tip: exhale through pursed lips like you're blowing out a candle. This is called pursed-lip breathing. I know it seems lame, but it helps me to avoid chest pain and bonus! side stitches. Side-stitches are caused by shallow rapid breathing so make sure to breath slow and deep while you run. I know easier said than done- haha.

The other thing that's really hard about working out with asthma is the head games you play with yourself. Lots of things go through my head on days when my run isn't so great like:
-Frustration that my muscles are capable of more than my lungs
-Am I having real trouble with my asthma or am I being lazy when I take breaks
-I think that dude on the other side of the gym can hear me wheezing
-Its not fair that its easier for everyone else just because they can breath
-I will never be able to run as fast as someone without asthma, so why bother trying

Well, my fellow troubled asthmatics, let me tell you something: it will all be ok. In the moment it's really hard to remember this but: it really isn't that big of a deal. You are out there doing something for yourself and your health. Your pushing your body and it's a huge accomplishment that you can keep going, even walking, despite the pain. It's going to be hard, but remember how good it feels to know that you did it after. 

As far as what others think, remember, who cares? In some ways you're tougher and braver than the runner's without the wheeze, because,well hey, how many of them have been to the hospital for working out too hard? Most of what you think they are thinking is in your head. Chances are they aren't listening to your wheeze just envious of your persistence ;)

Some tips to avoid head games and problems:
  • Train for distance NOT pace or time. Distance is a goal any asthmatic can reach, somedays faster that others. 
  • Set easy to reach goals until your lungs become more conditioned for exercise
  • Constantly trying to cover up how you're feeling during your workout will only make it harder.If you're shy about your asthma or running level, try exercising at times when the gym is empty or outside. But I say just ignore them with headphones and focus! haha
  • Don't drink cold water. First of all it's been proven that warm water hydrates you more effectively and second of all cold water can cause asthma attacks. Drink lukewarm or hot water. When I'm right on the edge of an attack or having trouble with a cough hot water can sometimes help me to get it back in control. 
  • Keep your ID on you and tell a friend if you are going on a run alone. It's  important in case you were to have an attack and couldn't tell others you needed help. I estimate when I'll be done and tell my friend "If I don't call you by ____ , call me. If I don't answer, come looking". Also ID with all your important info is helpful for many reasons, so just be smart. 
  • Be aware of your triggers and avoid them. For me it's just about everything, but especially cold and pollen, so if its really cold or the pollen count is high I move my workout indoors. 
  • Finally, take care of your body- asthma causes fatigue so make sure you get enough sleep and if you have a serious attack take a break from working out to recover
Hope this helps some others out!
Remember:  There are days when you aren't sure if you can do this, but there will be a lifetime of remembering you did!


  1. Great tips! I'm a 43 year-old runner (I call myself a slogger - a slow jogger) with severe asthma. This post was uncanny -- you are the first to WRITE what I think and feel. Thank you.

    I'd love to know more about your breathing technique. I breathe super shallow and I find it affects my pace (fast) which tires me really fast. I'm averaging 2-mile runs, on good days, and would love to know how you handle the lung endurance required for longer runs.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. oh I'm so glad someone feels the same way I do! I love the term slogger! haha I'm definitely one of those! Well the best thing you can do for breathing- from my experience and what nurse mom has told me- is to breathe deep through your nose and then purse your lips and exhale through your mouth- like you are blowing out a candle. I didn't realize this, but exhaling is just as important as inhaling because the more you empty your lungs of the carbon dioxide, the more oxygen can be taken in by your lung. Pursed lip breathing creates some sort of back pressure- this is the science part i'm really fuzzy on- that essentially helps to empty your lungs fully. THe only problem I've had with this is that along with my asthma I have allergies which means I frequently have a stuffy nose and can't breathe through it. Breathing through your mouth is fine, but not as good as breathing through your nose. One other breathing tip for deep breathing is to concentrate on filling your stomach (diaphragm) not your lungs. I learned that one from singing. haha. A good way to practice is to put your hand on your belly and look in a mirror while standing still. If your raising your shoulders (a lot) when you take a breath you aren't doing it right. Instead your stomach should be moving in and out. Think about how you breath when you're falling asleep- this happens naturally. It's so much to remember while running I know!

    As far as endurance goes, so far I've been taking walking breaks between running a faster pace. I know some people can run it straight but for me, walking breaks give me time to recover. I can go much farther if I'm "running" a minute or so and walking 45 seconds or so than if i jog it all even when the overall average pace is the same for both. Maybe try doing that. This is the part I'm definitely not experienced with. I've always done some kind of sport- usually much slower than the rest haha, but running is all new to me.

  3. Excellent suggestions! Thanks. The diaphragm breathing is a tough one. It just doesn't come naturally. I think I've got to 're-train' myself.

    Good stuff. Please keep on bloggin'.

  4. If you continue to battle shin splints as I have, I recommend icing your shins after long workouts or hilly workouts even if you're not in pain. It's to reduce inflammation that is present but not completely visible or even felt. I think I read somewhere that If you're really brave I recommend filling a bath tub with cold water and adding a couple freeze buckets of ice and sit for only 15 minutes. It's oddly relaxing once you get over the fear of hypothermia :) Take care Ros!

  5. I just found you through Google- it's so nice to read about others experiencing the same symptoms as me! I have tried to change my breathing but I've majorly failed at it. I'm going to try running intervals like you suggested and see if that helps me improve!