This is the first in a series of guest blogging posts by The Wheezy Runner about training for the Pittsburgh Marathon with asthma.

Breathe Pennsylvania will be at the GNC Live Well Pittsburgh Health and Fitness Expo during race weekend to provide peak-flow testing and information.

Background on My Asthma
If you check out the About Me section of my blog, you will see I was a very large child. I always wanted to play sports and be active but I tired out quickly and would just go inside to play video games. I lost the weight going into high school, thanks to some bullies that are now twice my size. 

For a few months after high school I took a break from sports. I started college in July after graduating and once I got into the swing of college and work, I decided to get active again. I started running with my sister and kickboxing. After a few months of being stagnant, I knew something was wrong. I went for a 1 mile run with a friend on a trail and couldn’t finish the mile. When we were done I couldn’t stop coughing and choking I tried to play it off like I was okay but the coughing wouldn’t stop over the next few days. One of my other friends told me that they thought I had asthma so I needed to get checked out. I thought it was just really bad allergies from the trail. After seeing the doctor, he said that he thought it was asthma but I’d have to get tests done to confirm it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have health insurance so getting those tests done wouldn’t be able to happen for about 3-4 years. After needing my inhaler 4 times a day, I had to go back to the doctor because what he gave me wasn’t working. He eventually had to put me on Advair twice daily until I could pay for the tests and Advair without insurance isn’t cheap. After paying for that for two months I got myself some good insurance and went for the tests. 

The tests confirmed that I had asthma (as if they didn’t believe me) and my pulmonary doctor put me on a few medications to relieve it a little bit. 

Training with Asthma
After being on my medication for about two years I’ve been cleared to train. Here’s an idea of my daily medication routine:

Advair: Twice daily
Asthma/allergy pill: Before bed
Nasanex: Two inhales, each nostril before bed
Nebulizer: When needed, usually when I’m sick or go on a long run
Albuterol inhaler: As needed 

I initially started my blog to show people that there shouldn’t be an excuse for why you can’t exercise if you have asthma. I have friends that try to tell me why they can’t, but there are always more reasons to why you can. Training is hard with a breathing condition but if you manage it correctly, you’ll be okay. As long as I take my medicine and use my inhaler when I need it, then I’m usually okay. 

I have many apps that remind me to take my medicine and tell me what air quality color day it is. Normally on an orange or red day, I stay inside. It’s not worth hurting myself. When I run, I go slowly. If anyone ever looks at my time you’ll know that I’m not the fastest. I could be much faster but I take my time. 

Here’s something that I want everyone to know while training with asthma:

1. Take your time: If you feel like crap and still want to try to go out, then do it, but do it safely. If you need to stop, then stop. Walk a little bit. 
2. You WILL have bad days: There will be days that you can’t finish a mile. Those days are going to make you wonder if you can do 13 or 26 miles. Bad days happen but you can’t let that bring you down. 
3. You WILL have good days: Those days will make you wonder if your asthma went away. It hasn’t, but if you’re feeling good keep going! 
4. Take your medicine: It’s okay to buy a running pouch solely for your inhaler. I’m a dork like that too. 
5. Take care of yourself: If your long run was planned but you wake up to 70 degrees and it’s a “red day” use the “red day” as “rest day”. If you’re committed, you can find a better day to go. 
6. Know when to take your run: Are you an early morning runner or sunset runner? I’m early morning. I’ll get up at 5:30 to watch the sunrise before I watch the sunset. I personally feel like the air quality is always much better in the morning. Running at 2pm usually isn’t a good idea when it’s 90 degrees out. 


Those are some of my training tips. I have a training schedule set up that I usually go by but I stay flexible. It is completely feasible to train for a marathon with asthma if you take care of yourself. If you have any questions on training or taking care of myself, just ask!