Running with asthma can be challenging, but not always impossible. I've done it successfully for over a decade including running a marathon. Here are my tips on how to run with asthma including my running with asthma blog.
Running with Asthma Blog
Most of you know I have asthma and I am also a runner. It's not the ideal combination, but I make it work. I've had to work through lots of health issues to run a marathon, three half marathons, two 15K's, one 10K and countless 5Ks. So it's safe to say I have experience on the topic and I have some tricks up my sleeve to help others figure out how to run with asthma. So hopefully this will help someone out there in the blog world.
A note on safety first. This applies to anyone, but especially if you have a medical condition. Considering getting a Road ID bracelet and filling in the emergency information on your phone. Let someone know where you are running and what time you plan to be done. That way your bases are covered if there is an emergency. I've never had one, but it is nice to know I'd have a better chance of getting help if I did.
Before we get started, I want to make sure it's clear that this is merely my personal experience. I am not a doctor, nor am I your doctor. Please check with your doctor before you do anything if you have asthma and always follow your doctors advice before mine. I am able to run with my asthma, without problems but your situation may not be the same.
How to Run with Asthma
Take Inhaler Before You Run
I take my rescue inhaler 30 minutes before I run. I didn't always do this, but it made a HUGE difference when I started. I was worried about taking extra medicine, but this is what it is for! These medications are meant to help. This is something my doctor and I talked about and agreed upon, so make sure you clear it with your doctor. Also take your inhaler with you at all times, you never know when you might have problems.
Also, talk to your doctor about adjusting your medicines if you are still having trouble. I switched mine out for years before I got a winning combination.
Focus on Breathing Correctly
If you can learn to breathe more controlled and efficiently while running, it will be easier.
Focus on breathing through both your nose and throat and into your diaphragm. By turning your attention to getting as much air as possible, you can keep those fast panicked breathing moments at bay. The last thing you want to is to chest breathe, using your diaphragm is key. Control your breathing for as long as possible by taking a long breath in and an even longer one out. I like to count one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand in and four-five of the same out. Run without music for a few runs to get the hang of it.
Another trick I learned is to put the tip of your tongue on the back of your top teeth and push the rest of your tongue down. That will allow more air to get through your throat at a time. Sounds strange, but if I'm having trouble it helps me.
Work on Form
If you are running with asthma, you want to run as efficiently as possible. Wasting energy on bad form helps no one, but it could make the difference between enjoying running or not if you have asthma. Even consider taking a couple lessons from a running coach or have your gait analyzed. If you are already at a disability with asthma, you don't want to make it any harder on yourself.
I could use a refresher course, but when I was working with a PT I really focused on keeping my legs below my body and increasing my turnover. Running more efficiently finally helped me get my 5K PR without an asthma attack!
Avoid Weather Extremes
One thing I've learned about running with asthma is to respect it.
Running in extreme weather conditions with asthma is really hard and can make it unnecessarily challenging to control your breathing. For me this is anything above 75 or below 40, but your personal comfort level may be different. Cold weather really freezes up my lungs, so I really don't like it.
It's not to say I will never run in that weather, but I feel my best when I don't. The treadmill really isn't that bad. I use it as an excuse to practice my treadmill workouts!
Also, be cautious of high pollen times and consider rinsing off as soon as you get home in pollen season.
It's OK to Take Walk Breaks
Once I start running, I generally HATE stopping for walking breaks. It makes me feel like I failed. However, I've had times I just have to get over myself.
If you are having trouble with your breathing sometimes it's better to take a short walk break early on, than let the breathing issues get out of control. It may seem like a failure, but there is no shame in a walk break if you are having trouble! That walk break may allow you to finish your run without any extra trouble.
Running with Asthma? Be Kind to Yourself!
Finally remember, running is hard for most people. Running with asthma is even harder. Go easy on yourself and don't compare your times to others. If you have asthma, your personal best may be different that others. However, if you can overcome your breathing issues, finishing a solid run or race can be even more gratifying.
Thanks for stopping by today! Come back tomorrow for a easy one pan dinner with little no clean up.
I’m linking this post with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday, Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday, Coaches Corner, and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday.
How do you overcome your running challenges?
If you have asthma do you have any additional tips?
Richard Friedel says
My method for asthma is to use a sympathetic nervous system reflex.
1) Finger pressure on the face between the nose and the upper lip overcomes asthma by the reflex.
2) Train nose inhales with compression of the upper lip to get this effect. R.Friedel
Thank you for these tip Juliie! It might also be helpful to monitor the air quality in your home when you have asthma, which you can do with the Awair. It can tell you what chemicals and toxins are in the air that can cause an allergic reaction.
Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs says
These are great tips. I have exercise induced asthma and I mostly struggle during high intensity workouts, like races or speed work, or long runs. And I hate humidity! In spite of that, I have run 37 marathons and probably hundreds of shorter races. Not without issues, but I run with my inhaler (and yes, take a puff before). I also use montelukast during the months building up to a big event. It's made a huge difference for me and for my husband, who is an Ironman in spite of lifelong asthma.
Thanks for joining us at the Running Coaches Corner!
Debbie! Thank you for adding your expert advice too. I think it's good for people to know it can be done!
Sarah @ BucketListTummy says
The road ID bracelet is such a great idea. I've actually had a few allergic reaction scares while running (I now know what I'm allergic to from eating beforehand), so I NEED to get one of those. Also great tips - I'm going to share with my running friends who has asthma!
Yes! You need one too. They are so helpful if something goes wrong.
Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine says
Even without asthma I don't think I breathe efficiently when I run. Great tips, thanks for sharing!
Thanks Lisa! Other than the medications, this stuff could work for anyone.
Morgan @ Morgan Manages Mommyhood says
I've had really severe asthma my whole like and this is AMAZING. I've found in the past that my day to day asthma improves when I do a lot of regular cardio, but it remains the same more or less during exercise. My doctor told me that most people with persistent asthma will probably need to take a precautionary dose from their inhaler before exercise forever, regardless of how well it's under control. As for running in the cold, breathing through your nose and/or a mouth cover to warm your breath is a great option. Your nasal passages warm and moisten the winter air so that it doesn't shock your lungs (causing them to constrict)
Thanks Morgan! I'm so glad I'm not alone. Sometimes I get funny looks when people find out I have asthma and run but I swear IT HELPS me. It helps my lungs get stronger and more used to working. Sounds like you are in the same boat with the inhaler too.
This is great. I actually have a friend recently diagnosed with asthma (also a runner). I'll be sharing this for sure. Thanks for linking up, Julie.
Thanks Rachel! I was really hoping to help someone by writing this, so I appreciate the share.
Nice list! I had to use an inhaler and be careful with my runs after a bout of pneumonia last year, and these were all things I tried to be aware of before going out on a run.
You mentioned at the beginning of the post the Road ID. I love mine! You can include information on your Road ID for any medical conditions, including asthma, which is very helpful for first responders.
Also, the tip about placing your tongue behind your front teeth and dropping the back of your tongue? That's something that has come up in yoga as a way to help relax and improve breathing, so I think you're onto something with that!
My Speech Pathologist came up with that when I was visiting her all the time and having trouble with my vocal chord issues. She is an asthmatic runner too and had success with it. Glad I'm not the only one who heard of that. I swear it helps me 🙂
Thanks for your additional tip! I really appreciate it.
Wow, thank you for sharing this Julie!!!
Thank you Emily!
Jenn - a traveling Wife says
These are great tips. The colder temperatures really, really bother my lungs so I've learned to steer clear. Also, I like to focus my breathing with my steps. For example, I'll breath in only when my left foot strikes, of course skipping a few steps to get a nice deep breath.
That's a really great tip. Thanks for adding it to the list.
Janelle @ Run With No Regrets says
These are really great tips that I need to share with my friends who have asthma so they know that they can run by making some minor adjustments!
Thanks Janelle! I hope it helps them.
Wonderful post!! I'm going to share it with my husband. He has asthma and has been afraid to give running a try.
Thanks Heather! I hope this will give him some encouragement.
Nicole @ Fitful Focus says
I have seasonal asthma and usually feel it most when I stop running and have to catch my breath, so I always have my inhaler ready for that. The asthma is a pain, but I'm glad you've found a way to run with it vs. let it be an excuse to hold you back!
Thanks! I've said this on a few other commenters... but I feel like we all have something we have to deal with... this is just my thing and I try to make the best of it. It's why I'm so grateful for every run.
Heather @Fitnookies says
Making sure running with proper breathing is the biggest that I've found. I have exercise induced asthma, which only acts up running outside below 40 degrees or so. The most important is to listen to your body and if you're not breathing well during a run, stop! It's not worth any risk to continue running!
It's crazy the way the cold really gets too me too. Yuck! Great addition to the list-- thank you!
I will have to show this to my friend. He has asthma and enjoys running but has trouble. Great tips!
Thanks Lacey! I hope it helps your friend.
Running is hard enough, I cannot imagine running with asthma! Great tips!! Thanks for sharing and linking up 🙂
Thanks Annmarie! I feel like everyone has something... this is just my issue. I'm glad I can work through it.
SuzLyfe (@suzlyfe) says
These are great tips--my brother had exercise-induced asthma, but I had several friends who had regular asthma, and it was such a hindrance if they didn't have it under control (and sometimes even when they though that they did!
yes! It's a pain but I'm so glad I'm able to work through it most of the times these days. As you know all too well, it makes you appreciate running even more.
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy says
Great tips here! I find it hard enough to run as it is, so I can't imagine how much harder it would be if I had asthma too.
I feel like everyone has something that causes them trouble... you just have to find a way to overcome 🙂
Blane Sherer says
Nice personal touch in sharing your asthma tips.
I especially think the weather " extremes " is
important for folks to keep in mind. For me
personally my biggest trigger by far for my asthma
is perfume and or cologne. For me that is even worse
than second hand cigarette smoke. I do follow similar
routines to yours as far as exercising. One certainly
must remain mindful of their own asthma.
Very true! I like to say... "respect the asthma!!"