Karen S. Perinchief

Because I’m an asthmatic, I couldn’t always do the training that my running buddies did. Well, I did it, but it caused me to be out of breath. The “healthy runners,” as I called them, would run longer and faster than I could because my lungs could not take in enough air. Sometimes I thought maybe I needed to train harder, to spend more time training on the road or beach. I felt out of place and sometimes embarrassed, constantly wheezing and coughing while running. I didn’t want anyone to see me using my Ventolin inhaler. I would ask myself, Why am I out here running if I can’t breathe, if I’m out of breath, if I can’t keep up, and if I’m feeling tired? Why am I having asthma attacks during training? Should I stop running and find another type of exercise, or should I continue running and find out what I need to do or what would work for me? Still, I wanted to run because it was the least expensive exercise. Plus, I wanted to lose weight and stay fit and healthy. So I stopped training with my running group and started training on my own. I didn’t know that asthma can be brought on while exercising. I knew that dust and certain sprays and perfumes made me cough but not exercise. Even when the weather was cold or humid, I had trouble breathing, so I had to use my Ventolin inhaler before and after my training runs—and sometimes during. My doctor praised me for choosing running as an exercise, so I started to do some research to find out how I could control my breathing. I didn’t know I needed to breathe through my nose more often to help prevent wheezing and coughing. I learned that my lungs needed to stay warm in order to breathe. Breathing (inhaling) through my nose would keep my lungs warm and help me breathe without wheezing and coughing. I enjoyed training on my own at different times of the day—early morning runs, lunchtime runs, and evening runs. While training on my own, I used my inhaler when I coughed and wheezed, and I didn’t feel out of place or embarrassed, as I did in front of my running group. I just didn’t want anyone to know I had asthma. I wasn’t aware of any other runners in our group who had asthma; I never saw anyone use an inhaler.

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