Wednesday, November 13, 2013

By Request: Tips for Running With Asthma

Running and asthma would seem to be mutually exclusive, but look no further than marathon-world-record holder Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain, who was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma at the age of 14, to see that it's possible for asthmatics to enjoy—and excel at—a cardio-intensive sport like running.

Bill Roberts, M.D., medical director for the Twin Cities Marathon and a professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School in St. Paul, Minnesota, offers these six tips for runners who, like him, suffer from asthma. Follow Roberts' advice and you can hit the road and still breathe deeply.

1. Make Sure It's Asthma
Just because you wheeze or cough doesn't mean you have asthma. "There are several things that can mimic asthma, the most common being vocal-cord dysfunction," says Roberts. "I see a lot of that, especially in younger runners who are assumed to have asthma because they have a wheezing-like sound." See your physician for a diagnosis to ensure proper treatment.

2. Take Your Meds
Asthma medications work by relaxing the muscles around your airways. It's when these muscles constrict (an occurrence known as bronchospasm) that asthmatics experience wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.Quick-relief asthma medications such as Albuterol, which are often prescribed as rescue inhalers—so called because they are designed to ease symptoms within minutes—can also be used as prophylactic or preventive medication, says Roberts. So, runners with asthma can take a dose as directed a few minutes before a run to help manage symptoms.

If you have chronic asthma (that is, your symptoms aren't triggered solely by physical exertion), you'll probably need to be on a daily control medication, like an inhaled steroid, in addition to having a rescue inhaler.

3. Warm Up
Some asthmatic runners may skip a warm-up—thinking that doing so will save their lung power for their race or workout—but, as it happens, getting your lungs working hard beforehand may actually help you avoid an attack. "There's a refractory period for bronchospasm," says Roberts. "If you do a warm-up hard enough to induce some coughing or wheezing, it usually takes about four to six hours before you have as bad a spasm again." The key is to warm up just hard enough to get a small spasm without sapping your energy. Roberts suggests running for a few minutes, then doing several short, hard pickups (bursts of faster-paced running).

4. Protect Against Pollen
Pollen allergies can trigger asthma symptoms for some sufferers of exercise-induced asthma, so it's smart to run when pollen counts are at their lowest, which is usually in the early morning. Roberts also recommends checking your local pollen count online (try or and running on the days when the count is lowest. Afterward, shower as soon as possible to get the pollen off your hair and skin, and toss your workout clothes directly into the hamper.

If the pollen count is high even in the morning, do what Roberts does: Consider substituting an indoor activity for running, or doing something outdoors that doesn't make you breathe as hard, such as kayaking, biking, or walking.

5. Cover Your Face
Even people without asthma find themselves coughing during runs in cold temperatures. Why? Breathing cold, dry air results in cold, dry airways—a trigger for bronchospasm.

Roberts suggests covering your nose and mouth while running so the moist air you exhale will help humidify the air you inhale. Stay away from cotton bandanas, which can freeze against your face in cold temperatures. "Fleece balaclavas or neck gaiters are probably the best," Roberts says. "They maintain a fair amount of warmth even when they're wet, and they'll stay thawed pretty easily."

6. Be Smart
* Always carry your rescue inhaler. And not just while running. "There's no reason not to have it," Roberts says. "You can slip it in a lot of places, like the pockets in running shorts." You may never need to use your rescue, but if you do, you'll be very glad you have it.

* Have a game plan. Confirm with your doctor the steps you should take if you have an asthma attack. Should you call the doctor's office so they can determine the severity of the attack? Or should you see if you can get relief from your rescue inhaler? Create an action plan that both you and your doctor are comfortable with.

Roberts' advice for when you get into trouble: "You want to clear this with your physician, but what I tell my patients to do is to take as many puffs of your inhaler as it requires to stop the attack, or until you start to shake so much [a side effect of the medication] that you can't hold your inhaler. For some people, that's four to six puffs every five minutes for several minutes. I start shaking after two puffs."

* Consider wearing a medical alert tag. A bracelet or tag that indicates you have asthma can save first responders valuable time. "Giving the right medication quickly could be lifesaving," says Roberts.

* Take extra precautions if you have severe asthma. If you've ever had what Roberts calls a "flash attack," in which you quickly go from feeling good to being in severe distress, you should either run with a friend or carry your cell phone—or both.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Stories from the Suitcase - Paul Peavy

The purpose of our "Suitcase Stories" blog series is to allow YOU to share those travel experiences that surround training, racing, and enjoying new scenery.  We invite you to share travel tales where you win, PR, or have an awesome day on the roads.  We invite you to share insights gained from the race, the other competitors, the journey to and/or from the race (or training venue).  We invite you to share the lows and downs that made you a BETTER, STRONGER runner and person.

Our first contributor is Paul Peavy.  Paul is a former stand up comedian turned psychotherapist.  He is a veteran Ironman athlete married to an accomplished IronWoman athlete and father to a state ranked high school swimmer.  You can imagine the travel he and his family have under their belts.

Thank you, Paul, for being the guinea pig of the series.  The two insights, both literal and figurative, are a unique look into the life of a father/athlete and ourselves.  Wow!  We are looking forward to your future contributions and to those of the Big Bend running community.

Suitcase Stories: Literal and Figurative
By Paul Peavy

The one true, literal suitcase story I have in my running career is that I went to do the Disney Triathlon with my daughter Lauren and another family.  Lauren and I would be having fun at Disney while my wife Sherrie had a girls’ trip to Mexico to do a Half-Ironman there.

I take great pride in being a very involved and emotionally and physically available father. The night before the Disney Triathlon we were going to be trick or treating in DisneyWorld! How cool was that? Lauren carefully packed her Halloween costume into her pink and white polka dotted suitcase. I checked and double checked that we had everything and we headed to the happiest place on earth for the happiest father-daughter time possible!

When we got there we excitedly unpacked the car. It was then that we noticed that I had forgotten only one thing. Not bad. Just one little thing. What was the teeniny, itsy bitsy, little tiny thing? It was only Lauren’s pink and white polka dotted suitcase. With everything she could ever need in it.

This is too literal to have any symbolic meaning. If there was a moral here is what it would sound like, “Hey, idiot if you go somewhere remember people’s suitcases!”

Here is my real suitcase story. It is my favorite line from a country song.

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

Your suitcase is packed in between your ears. It is packed in your chest cavity. It is in you. It is you.

You may start by running from something. You may work through that so that you are running to something. In the end I hope you will find that you don’t have to run to or from anything. You can just run.

You may be in the stage of being a RUNbot. You have gauges on your wrist and straps on your chest that beep when you’re going too fast and boop when you are going too slow and beeboop when your toast should pop up. I hope sometimes you leave the radar equipment at home and just go for a run and hear your heart and lungs heaving and your feet hitting the ground.

You may have programmed music into your sound system that makes you run harder. I hope you also program music that makes you think, that makes you grateful. I mostly hope you program music that makes you dance. Nothing makes a run more fun than a mid-run freakdance breakout!

You may have to run in the rain at some point. That’s how other people would phrase it. I hope you frequently have the joy and the freedom to run in a soaking, torrential downpour. Nothing cleanses your soul like a run in the rain.
Sometimes run with friends. Sometimes run alone. If you are in a group you may run with an enemy. You may run with that group so much that the person becomes your friendemy. Then one day when you are struggling and that person agrees to walk with you they become just your friend, no –emy.

Running for each of us is different. As different as each of our souls.  Just count yourself blessed if a couple of times a week you get to pack your suitcase and get out for a run.

Peavy Family
Paul Peavy and his family: daughter - Lauren, wife - Sherrie

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Run Happy. Be Seen.

Presented by the IRRA for November, National Running Safety Month.

Wear High Visibility Items.  Be Seen.  Be safe.

November's Random Runner is Erin Glover

Please join ROCKET MAN (Capital City Runners) in welcoming Erin Glover, formerly of Tallahassee and currently residing in Orange, California, as the Random Runner of November.
Erin:  “I'm honored to be chosen!”

CCR:  When did you start really running?  Why?
Erin:  I started running seriously in 2005.  My dad was in remission following a fight with Lymphoma when I found out about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program.  We committed to the program together - with me training for the Walt Disney World Marathon and the two of us raising money together.  He was even there to cheer me on at the finish line!

CCR:  How has running shaped you since then?
Erin:  Running has given me both discipline and perspective.  I now know that I can always push myself a little more, and that pain and frustration are only temporary.  Running makes me feel like I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

CCR:  As a child, did you think running would be an important part of your life?
Erin Glover RunningErin:  Oh no.  I struggled to just finish the mile so I could go do something fun!

CCR:  What is one of your most awesome running memories? i.e. proudest, favorite, most memorable...
Erin:  Finishing my first full marathon is my proudest running memory.  Not only did I accomplish my goal, but it set me on the path of being a runner for the rest of my life.

CCR:  What is your weak point?  Does it haunt your or drive you?
Erin:  Sugar. It haunts me every day.

CCR:  What do you like to do when you aren’t running? (Do you have a favorite non-running hobby?)
Erin:  I recently moved from Florida to Southern California, so my hobby has been exploring my new home.  There’s beach, mountains, city, desert - so much to discover.

Erin Glover Non-Running
CCR:  What do you do to pay your bills
Erin:  I manage social media at the Happiest Place on Earth - Disneyland!

CCR:  If money were no object, what would you love to do?
Erin: Travel, with intermittent periods of absolutely nothing.

CCR:  What are some of your most recent “reads”?
Erin:  Right now, I’m reading “Walt Disney: An American Original” by Bob Thomas

CCR:  Who motivates you, and what inspires you to keep running?
Erin:  My husband is a terrific motivator.  Every time I run a race, he asks if I won.  It’s sweet that he thinks it’s even a possibility.  My health inspires me to keep running.  I see and feel the benefits every day, and I don’t want that to end.

CCR:  What is your idea of the perfect “running” vacation (or weekend)? A non-running vacation?
Erin:  Honestly, I don’t run on vacation.  I have huge feet, and my shoes take up too much room in my suitcase.

CCR:  How has Capital City Runners been a positive component of your running career/life-style?
Erin:  I love the information and motivation posted on the Facebook page.  Even from across the country, I feel connected to a running community back home.  Keep it up!