Last fall, after weeks of shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing that I though were caused by allergies, I was diagnosed with asthma. So far, it hasn’t hampered my running much. A puff on my inhaler before I take off, and I can breathe. Awesome.
At the end of last week, though, through a series of events (mostly revolving around me being lazy), I ran out of my old inhaler before I had picked up my new one. No problem, I thought, I’ll just I’ll do a nice loop and pick it up on my run on Saturday. And, so I don’t have to run the whole thing carrying a bag from the pharmacy, I’ll put it at the end of my run. I don’t particularly like the way the inhaler makes me feel, anyway, it’ll be good to see what a run’s like without it.
Yeah… My plan worked out perfectly, for values of “perfectly” that include “couldn’t breathe two and a half miles into a 5 mile loop”.
I’ve known one or two asthmatic runners in my life, and watching them struggle with asthma while running, I always imagined that asthma sort of felt like a super intense version of that end of race oxygen suck. You know, just rapid breathing to the nth degree. I certainly didn’t understand what it’s like to be trying to suck in air and have it feel like nothing is happening. I’ve heard people describe asthma as breathing through a straw, but I tend to feel it more in my throat and chest; I’m trying to pull in oxygen, but there’s nowhere for it to go.
So there I was, coughing and sputtering and wheezing for the two-mile walk to the pharmacy. I was pretty miserable and really feeling sorry for myself. I felt just slightly short of breath when walking, but if I tried so much as a shuffling jog, I started feeling dizzy and light-headed. I hate walking. Walking is boring and something to be done in color-coordinated spandex and not what I had planned for my day.
I made it to the pharmacy, picked up my prescription and a Snickers Ice Cream bar, and walked the last mile home. I gave myself credit for the 5 in my training log under a variation of the “time on your feet” rule.
Sunday’s run: two inhaler puffs, followed by five miles. No wheezing, no dying, no falling over. I’ll have to remember that for the future: breathing is non-negotiable.