How to Prepare for the Marathon if You have Asthma
“As long as they are medicated the right way with the asthma medicine they won't have any problems.” —Dominique Wilkins
Running a marathon even without a chronic condition is an exceptional endeavor. However, there are physically fit people out there who fear that their participation in such a challenge with a potential asthma attack waiting to happen is not a possibility, and they would rather steer clear of the track instead of taking the risk.
Yet, some of the most famous professional athletes successfully train and cope with this lifelong condition, and with the right preparation and precautions, you can enjoy a lifelong running career that will in turn help you cope with your asthma-related issues.
1. Always incorporate warmups
A gradual preparation for your running session is crucial for helping your body adapt to the upcoming strain. Especially for those who intend to participate in a marathon, you should always make sure to elevate your heart rate and start sweating before you begin your run.
A 15-minute warmup routine prior to your training can do wonders for preventing an asthma attack by letting your lungs slowly adapt and warm up for the run. A brisk walk or a light jog in addition to regular mobility and flexibility exercises will do the trick.
2. Keep your triggers under control
No matter where you live, the air around you is always full of pollutants and irritants that can cause inflammation, thus leading to an asthma attack. Whether it’s sneezing, coughing, wheezing, or excess mucus production, even the slightest respiratory problem can affect your running performance.
Always have your inhaler with you for immediate relief, and listen to your body in order to recognize the moments of greatest risk, when you might want to consider slowing down your pace to prevent the attack. While there’s no way to completely prevent all of your future asthma attacks, knowing your allergens and having instant help will allow you to continue progressing.
Among many hardships of long-distance running, those who struggle with asthma need to pay special attention to potential dehydration. If the conditions are severe, and you run on a hot, humid day, you can lose several liters of body fluids during your run, which can leave your body completely parched, and you are at a greater risk of injury and various health issues.
A dry throat and mouth alone on a hot summer day can be more than enough to trigger a severe asthma attack and impede your efforts. That’s why it’s essential to keep yourself hydrated at all times, which includes the race as well. Keep a bottle of water by your side, and make sure to pay attention to early signs of dehydration.
4. Limit your exposure
Although you cannot avoid airborne irritants when you run outdoors, you can make sure that your living environment is as clean as possible. From finding the best air purifier for your home and introducing low-maintenance greenery in every room, to opting for less harsh cleaning supplies, you can improve your quality of life significantly.
Once you limit your exposure to harmful triggers in your home, your lung function will improve due to lower irritation levels. Fewer asthma attacks during the night will also improve your sleep, thus giving your body all it needs to prep for the big day.
5. Adjust your diet
Another equally crucial element of your lifestyle that can worsen your respiratory health is your diet. Common, inflammatory foods such as eggs, fried foods, nuts and sometimes dairy should be avoided if you notice a link between your symptoms and consumption of these foods.
On the other hand, you can make the most of nutritious fruits, veggies and fish, because these Mediterranean foods are extremely healthy, nutrient-dense and highly unlikely to cause you any trouble with asthma. However, if you notice that your meal plan requires a change, make sure to maintain proper caloric intake along with plenty of macro and micronutrients suitable for your training and preparation.
6. Look at your medication options
First of all, you will need to consult a medical professional before you settle for the right inhaler and any other additional medication you might need. For instance, it’s common that allergy-induced asthma is treated with an antihistamine, which also needs to be chosen based on your doctor’s recommendation and overall health, to avoid possible side-effects.
Another added option to your must-have inhaler is getting allergy shots, which also needs to be determined by your doctor, and depends on your main triggers and allergies. Either way, taking several precautions and knowing your nemesis will help you achieve your fitness goals with greater control and ease.
There will be times when you will question your ability to make it to the end line. When in doubt, follow in the footsteps of Paula Radcliffe whose asthma has never prevented her from pursuing an athletics career. In her own wise words, you can use your condition to fuel your determination and persistence, and make it your mission to overcome your current limitations.