I haven’t felt this shitty since I was in high school and first diagnosed with asthma (so THAT’s what was making my otherwise in-shape body puke after every warmup in volleyball). We had moved to Eastern Washington a few years before and so it was a surprise to find the beginning of 10th grade with asthmatic symptoms that continued through the rest of my short-lived high school sports days. I ended up hating to run, which I attribute to a combination of mean coaches who yelled (not my kind of motivation) and the inability to breathe. I was put on various inhalers and pills to manage my deteriorating lung capacity and limped through the rest of my teenage years with a wheeze and a shake.
Truthfully, I hated the medication. I never felt like it did anything to help and what I noticed was all of the shakiness and heart-racing that accompanies inhaling random chemicals into my lungs. When I started college I vowed to make a change, and went back to my interest in yoga and began working really diligently to use yogic breathing techniques to augment my asthmatic tendencies. After getting a job at the American Lung Association, as an asthma educator, I learned that despite a few years of not taking medication, my lung capacity was quite diminished. The doctors asked me why I didn’t take inhalers and I told them that I had gotten used to belly breathing and was quite pleased with the results, despite what my spirometry tests said.
It’s been over 10 years since I’ve had to consistently take inhalers, and only rarely in that time have I had to even use a “rescue” inhaler or even felt symptoms of my asthma. Granted, I never tried running. So I was pleased when I began this couch-5k journey and found that I could run, slowly, gaining strength and didn’t have any of my old asthma symptoms. Being out of breath was because of working hard, and my lungs didn’t seem tight or wheezy.
But then I got bronchitis, the day after my first 5k, and I haven’t been able to run since. I’m hopped up on inhalers and folding laundry makes me tired. I’m supposed to “run” a 5k this Sunday and am worried that the combination of bronchitis, not being able to train, and it being at 6 AM, that I’m going to have a negative experience that’s going to reinforce my old belief about running, which is, that I am not cut out for it.
I go back and forth. Truthfully I have enjoyed running these past few months. But I also acknowledge that I haven’t been running long enough to really miss it. Yesterday when I came home, let the dog out, raked some leaves and played with Potamus, I was pretty content and didn’t miss my Tuesday run. Maybe that’s because I’m feeling so crummy in the lung-department, though, so who knows.
Question runners: what prompts you to get back to running when you’ve taken, or been forced to take, a hiatus?