Saturday, March 2, 2013

Staying Positive

Lately I've been having a lot of trouble with asthma. I mean A LOT. Before I started running my asthma was in terrible shape. Since then I was able to give up some of my medication and was doing leaps and bounds better. While my asthma never went away or was "cured", I felt like it was finally manageable for this first time.

Fast forward to now and, although I've been denying it, it's clearly out of control again. This year in Oklahoma (where I'm living) we've had some of the worst weather for people with allergies and asthma. The temperature is constantly drastically changing. One day there will be snow on the ground, the next it will be 72 degrees outside. The allergens (pine and grass etc) are at record highs and have been most of this fall/winter. I'm working downtown in area surrounded by smokers, so I'm not exactly getting the cleanest air. I've been under some stress at work, not like run-find-a-corner-and-hide stress, but still enough to wear on me. I don't say these things to "make excuses", simply to explain what I think some of the contributing factors may be.

I've always heard of the "rule of twos" when it comes to asthma and keep it in the back of the mind (although somehow I always change it to the rule of threes! haha). The rule of twos is:

Think in Two's:
  • Take your "quick-relief inhaler" more than two times a week?
  • Awaken at night with asthma more than two times a month?
  • Refill your "quick-relief inhaler" more than two times a year?
If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, your (or your child's) asthma is NOT UNDER CONTROL. Talk to your doctor about your (or your child's) asthma! 

My answers to those questions:

  • 1-2 times per day (not including for running)
  • a few times per week
  • I don't count this one because I have to take it a lot for running which my doctor's don't count

So obviously things aren't going so hot for me. Above all else it's been incredibly frustrating. I can't do the things I love (running - missing a 5k tonight in fact), I can't sleep well and I'm always tired, and I can't even think straight because I'm dizzy half the time and shaky from my inhaler the other half. I'm trying to get in to see a specialist soon, but I have run out of my usual "tricks" to fix things. 

Anyways, to make a long sob story short, my asthma has been royally sucking lately and I've been throwing myself a bit of a pity party. Recently however, I've been getting some emails from readers saying the sweetest things about how my blog helped them in some way and it's really encouraged me and helped to lift me out of my funk.  I thought since I could use some of my own advice right now, I'd share some tips on staying positive when you are having a bad day/week/month/year:
  • Take time every day to remember things that you are grateful for (maybe even write them down). I may be struggling with asthma, but I have an amazing family and a great guy supporting me through it and I have the best readers in the world who pick me up when I'm down.
  • Find something else to do. This is one I really suck at. I get so fixated on not being able to run (or even to run like I usually can) that I act like it's my entire life. Find a new way to channel your energy for the time being. I plan on trying to do some weight-lifting (since this is something I NEVER work on and it doesn't affect my asthma the way running does) and catching up on some much-needed reading. 
  • Be proactive. Do whatever you can to help yourself get better. That way you are occupying your time with something useful rather than pouting. I'm working on getting in to see a specialist, starting to try (stress the word "try") to eat better, and work on some things around the house to help with asthma (like new pillows!). 
I've got a few more ideas on the running with asthma 101 page if you haven't read it already. 

Anyways, those are my tips. What are yours? I could use 'em!


  1. This post makes me just want to give you a big hug! *virtual hug* It's hard to stay positive and for me I find that I play a lot of mind games. I did a 10K on Friday morning and then spent the rest of Friday and some of today battling the asthma monster. And I have another 10K coming up in two weeks. When I'm sitting on the couch doing nothing unable to catch my breath, I start asking myself things like "If you're struggling to breathe now on the couch while doing nothing, how do you expect to run? Why do you even think you can? What makes you think you'll be well enough for your upcoming race?" I've done enough races that I know that thoughts like these aren't helpful and I do my best to fight them off, however hard it may be.

    I want to tell you what an inspiration you are to me, and I mean it. I'm pretty sure my asthma is milder than yours, but it's still a pain in the ass (ahem, and the lungs), especially during exercise. And there have been times when I haven't felt like running, but then after reading a few posts of yours, I changed my mind. You're doing the right thing by seeing a specialist and I know you'll succeed. Try to view this as a blip. Every asthmatic I know has asthma control blips (which suck since they majorly undo many strives I've made in running...) and hopefully you'll be able to overcome it soon.

    Wishing you all the best,


  2. I have to agree with Elisheva. This makes me so sad.. I suffer from asthma as well.. and living in Louisiana, our weather has been crazy as well. This morning it was 32 degrees.. last week, I didnt even need a jacket...last weekend..rain. Its insane. My asthma has never really in control. I use it before I workout and I'm good. It also has drastically improved since starting singular..however it still wakes me up numerous nights a week. I am also allergic to cats and my fiance's parents house, is a no no. However, I go over anyway and the next morning I am suffering for it. However, with all of this, you really have been an inspiration. After reading your post about the Disney half marathon..I have made that a goal. I cannot run far and I can blame my asthma but it is not all just that. However, seeing you become a runner and completing a half marathon has given me hope that one day I will be able to run farther than the .5 of a mile I can barely do now (and I mean BARELY! lol). It may be a rough spot but it will get better. Just remember what an inspiration you are to everyone, especially us fellow asthma sufferers :).

  3. Bah! Lost my comment... let's try again!

    So sorry that you're struggling with your asthma, I know just how frustrating it is, especially when you've been making progress with things like running. Have you thought about trying something like yoga (not on of the more energetic types)? And if it doesn't make your asthma worse, what about walking? That would at least get you outside logging miles, even if not running miles. I always find getting some fresh air makes my head clearer, if nothing else.

    I'm hoping to run my second half next Sunday, but having been hit with a sinus infection the moment I got back from my holiday (well, I guess it was brewing a few days in transit, in fairness... I blame it on too many stuffy hotels, and the pollution of Buenos Aires), I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do it. Last night was the first that I didn't wake myself up coughing, so things are definitely on the mend, but I'll have to see how an easy run goes tomorrow, and take it from there. The problem is that with two weeks vacation and then almost two weeks out of action I haven't run in nearly a month, so I have no long runs under my belt in preparation. This half has a time limit of 2:30, which was always going to be a bit tight for me, so what my chances are of making it within the limit now, I'm really not sure. Still undecided what to do.

    Any idea when you'll manage to get in to see the specialist? Hope you don't have to wait too long. Will you be starting with someone new, or going back to someone you've seen in the past?

    Good luck, and stay positive!

  4. I just stumbled across your blog when looking for additional tips for working out and running with asthma. I've had asthma for 20 years now (I'm 28) and it's truly been hell. I was active growing up with sports and general lifestyle and it has always been such a hindrance. As I've seen people around me "grow out of it", it seems like the asthma has just gone above and beyond making itself at home with me. This past year has been terrible, as I've had bacterial bronchitis and it has been such a setback when it comes to...well, everything.

    The last month for me has been almost a dead stall because I've not been able to keep my asthma in control and therefore have not been able to stay in good shape. I live in Austin, Texas, so I am also struggling with the weather and allergies. In fact, it's 86 and in high wind advisory today and tomorrow it's supposed to be 62 and dry. AWFUL!

    I would like you to know that not only am I sympathetic and empathetic, but I also am inspired. I am so happy to have come across this blog, not only for the tips, but to feel like I truly have someone that "gets it". While I do have a supportive crew around me, they still don't always understand everything that comes along with it. It's nice to feel like I'm not alone in the grand scheme of...not being able to breathe. :) I wish you the best of luck in everything, and I really appreciate you putting this out here for the world to see and for us asthmatics to relate to.

    Good luck with everything and I will definitely be a solid follower from this point forward!

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  6. Thank you so much for your posts! I am also an asthmatic that runs half marathons, I love reading about other asthmatics successes! I too struggle on a daily basis to keep my breathing controlled, it is nice to see when other's overcome! Recently I received one of your T-shirts as a gift, it is wonderful and I tell as many people as I can :) I even wrote about ti in my own blog this week! if you're interested! Good luck!

  7. This is a great blog and very inspiring against all the odds.
    I read an interesting book about the power of water and that we drink far less water than we should. He talked about the body being in a state of dehydration and then reacting to this by showing allergic reactions to strange things. There is not a lot of science behind his work but then who would research the power of water if you cannot patent it? I found the book free online in a PDF. It is called "Your Body's Many Cries For Water" - F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.
    Good luck!

  8. Great blog. I came across it whilst looking for tips to help me train with my asthma. Recently I've been having loads more problems than normal so I know how frustrated you must feel, but you've got to stay positive even if it sucks not being able to take part in your chosen sport.

    I'll tell you the things that help me keep my asthma under control, I don't know if they'll be relevant or helpful (I hope they are) for you but they work for me. When my asthma was really bad the two things that helped me continue doing some sort of training and get my asthma back under control were swimming and pilates. Even though I couldn't run swimming didn't seem to set off my asthma and I was able to stay reasonably active and maintain a reasonable level of fitness despite not being able to train the way I would like. I used to get up and get to the swimming pool for 6am, as it opened. I used to find that getting out of bed, getting to the pool and getting whatever training I was able to do done early in the day prevented me from stressing myself out during the day, worrying about whether I'd be able to train and just getting myself into an anxious mess. Overthinking is not good.

    I started doing pilates after one of my doctors advised me to, he said it would help me focus on my breathing and improve my posture and he was right, it certainly helped bring my asthma under control.

    Your asthma will get better and you will be able to train and run again but whilst it's bad you need to acknowledge and congratulate yourself on small victories, try and do as much as you can everyday to improve your asthma and keep yourself active. Last summer I was flying (well, running very fast anyway) and my asthma was completely under control but in early September I had a massive attack and was in casualty for a couple of hours. Overnight I went from training for a couple of hours a day 5 or 6 days a week to being unable to do anything. For the rest of September my exercise was walking, very slowly, for 40 minutes (if that). At first I was feeling sorry for myself but then I decided to take the point of view that due to no fault of my own, at this particular time, a 40 minute walk was all I could do, so even though it was not where I wanted to be I was still doing as much training as I was able.

    Just make sure everyday you're doing everything you can do to bring your asthma back under control (and if one day you have to take a rest because it's just a bad day don't get too frustrated). That way you'll be happy with yourself and slowly (it's always too slow, isn't it?) it'll come back under control.

    Good luck and keep your chin up!

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  10. Same for me a few months back I needed my puffer constantly for a few weeks and my stamina was pathetic. Just don't get worked up about it. Set small goals for yourself and don't push it til it goes away. I always kept the mindset that it was temporary and my lungs would be back to "normal" soon, it's been 6 weeks since I took my puffer and I'm back to exercising at the pace I used to do

  11. I've noticed that you haven't posted in a while and I just wanted to send some encouragement your way. I hope you've been occupied with wonderful things and that your breathing is under control. Spread joy :)

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  22. I really enjoy reading your blog! I am sorry to hear that your asthma isn't doing well again! I also have asthma, and I am a long distance runner as well. I have recently started training for a marathon. The last hospitalization was in March, and I started taking REs-Q 1250 capsules of fish oil in MArch, and I have not had any problems with asthma much since. The omega 3's have anti-inflammatory properties, and seem to have been doing the trick for me! I also have vocal cord dysfunction, which makes it tons harder. I have since completed the tough mudder in April,a 5k, a 5 miler race and most recently, a warrior dash yesterday! You can do it! I have been hospitalized and have gone to the ER so many times in the past year, and this has helped me, so maybe it will help you too if you haven't already tried it! Good luck!

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