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
Remember: There are days when you aren't sure if you can do this, but there will be a lifetime of remembering you did!