Thursday, February 23, 2012

Excuses, My Assthma!

Today was another long one!

I started the day with an hour on bike trainer.  1.0 had adjusted my right cleat and I think it really helped.  I don't think I am going to make the trip out to the shop after all.  The true test will be this Sunday's ride.  So after the trainer, I headed to the Y for my swim.  I did 5 X 500 @ 1 min rests.  I really worked on my form and I noticed my neck hurt less.  Very nice!  On my way out of the Y, I ran into my old middle school teacher who volunteers there.  He is so nice!  We got to talking about my event, and he asked me how I felt about it being called "IronMAN."  Heh.. This really made me chuckle.  So back in 7th or 8th grade, one day he gave everyone a new book for the class called "Modern Man."  He then promptly made us take out a marker and change the cover so the title read, "Modern Man AND Woman."  Priceless.

After work I had a lovely massage, and then it was off to Parent Info Night at the middle school with Stinky Cheese.  I can't believe he's almost in MIDDLE SCHOOL!  The reason I bring this part of my day up here, is because of something I overheard him say to one of his friends, while we were touring the classrooms... He said, "I can't run because I have asthma."

What the f...???

Initially I was shocked and hurt.  Doesn't he see??  Don't my boys know how hard I work to run and swim and bike and climb??  And I have asthma!!!  Don't they see that if I can do it, so can they?  Can't they translate that into "even in the face of adversity, you can beat the odds"??  I don't know.  He just wanted to go to bed and get away from mom, like most almost 12 year olds do. 

The fact is, he is just making excuses, and I know where he learned that.  His dad and I are divorced.  E is a good man and he loves his sons.  He isn't without his faults, but he is my son's father, and for that, he deserves respect and privacy.  This is MY blog, so I will only air my sh*t. :)  What was I saying?  Ah yes.. excuses!  I live in a world of constant excuses, and asthma, (as a friend of mine recently pointed out to me) is one of them!   Here is my embarrassing confession: I tell people I have asthma because I am completely self conscious of how slow I am (or think I am.)  I like to give myself a handicap so people's expectations are low, so hopefully I won't disappoint them, or embarrass myself.  

Other excuse topics:
Why I don't go back to school.
Why I can't have a relationship.

Are there enough hours in the day for the therapy I need? 

Anyway, despite the fact that I think the asthma thing is merely an excuse, and not really the issue, I am going to ask S.C. to read this article.  I found it years ago when I was training for my first half marathon, and I really loved it.  Enjoy!

~Running With Asthma: A Personal Viewpoint.

If you are diagnosed with exercised induced asthma, take heart, because you may still participate in the sport of running. I am not an expert on the subject of asthma, but since I have this condition I thought it only appropriate to at least touch on this subject somewhat. This is not a "how to take your medicine" or, "what medicine do I try" article. This is not about the more debilitating forms of asthma. Medical advice or information about any form of asthma should be obtained from your health care professional. Rather, this is simply my personal viewpoint of what it is like to try to run with asthma and my attitude towards it.

First and foremost, if you have this condition and are still running, then congratulations! You might put out as much effort as an elite athlete during a race, but of course your times will not reflect that. So it is good to remind yourself that it isn't just the person in first place that is the winner. You are a winner if you don't quit!

Many people mistakenly think that exercised induced asthma only occurs if you exercise. That is not true, although it does become more intense during exercise.

When you don't get enough air (oxygen) during a run then you become fatigued much sooner than the person who is getting sufficient oxygen. This means that your legs feel heavy, your breathing becomes labored and your heart pumps harder to try to get you enough air to function with. This could be a real downer if you are only a few minutes into a race!

Another comparison to running with asthma is that it would be similar to running at high altitudes where the air is thin. Although your body can adjust to a point, it will not function as well as someone who is getting sufficient oxygen.

The way I chose to look at racing with asthma is that I am putting out as much effort as the person who is in first place. By the end of a race that I've really struggled in, my heart rate is often up to 100% of my maximum after only a few minutes. My legs feel as heavy as lead and my breathing is loud gasps while I struggle for air. ( This does cause some of the other runners to stare at me. Some ask if this is the first race I've ever run, and if so, I should slow down.) A runner with asthma labors early during a race. Much the same as a healthy runner does who is at the end of running a sprint. Only the runner with asthma has done it for miles! At full throttle! When you look at it that way it says something for the mental toughness of that particular runner, doesn't it.

What should a runner do that has asthma?

Well, it would be nice if you could find short races once in a while. Quarter milers would be wonderful for runners with asthma, because you could compete and the asthma would not have time to affect you. By the time it would hit, you would be finished. I must admit that I would get bored with going to running events that were over in a few moments if that was my only source of competition. It would be fine once in a while, but not on a regular basis. I still love the challenge a long race provides.

If you have asthma and want to compete, it is important to continue training on a consistent basis and it is important to follow your doctor's advice for using an inhaler if that is what it takes to get you the air you need during a race. Even with inhalers, an asthmatic runner is not going to get a normal oxygen supply. In other words, medication can open up the lungs somewhat but your body is producing too much mucus to get the same air as someone that has healthy lungs.

The good news is that every so often a runner with asthma has a day when the lungs just seem to open up and it is almost effortless to race. It's like having a burst of energy and the miles fly by. Those are great races. However, the most important thing to remember is to never give up on the bad days.

It is also important to watch what you eat. Being overweight just adds to the stress when you run. Milk products can often cause a reaction in the lungs by creating excessive fluids that block oxygen absorption.

One reason I'm always hopeful when I'm at the starting line of any race is the possibility that I'll not have the extreme reaction that asthma causes and that the race might be run with few symptoms of asthma. Those are races where my legs don't get tired and I run like the wind! I have quite a collection of hard won medals and trophies for the races where I've placed. I'm proud of them because of the effort it took. Yet I believe I win every time I step up to the starting line and run a race, no matter where I finish. I believe I win each time I run outside on a training run.

Running a race with or without asthma, not quitting even when you don't think you can win, in my humble opinion, is still a good test of a persons character. I have learned a lot about myself and about not giving up. I must say that I'm proud I'm a runner and you should be also. If you get yourself out the door to run, you've won. Period.

~ Lynn Seely

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