Running Strong with (in spite of) Exercise Induced Asthma

I have suffered from Exercise Induced Asthma ever since I started running, especially once I started racing and training at a higher intensity level. I didn’t realize at first what was happening. At the end of a race I would feel dizzy, nauseous, and weak, and take up to an hour to feel better. I chalked it up to my hard effort and really didn’t worry too much about it. But, as these things do, it got worse. Here’s a little timeline of my history with Exercise Induced Asthma.

Exercise Induced Asthma

May 1996: I was running a 10k in Yucca Valley. It was shortly after Alan and I had met, and he was going to pace me to a PR. He did that, but I don’t remember the last 2/10 of a mile because I was so seriously oxygen deprived that I passed out at the finish line. While I never coughed or wheezed, I was not getting enough oxygen to fuel my muscles, and it took me over two hours to fully recover. For a while I couldn’t even lift my arms up. On a happier note, I did finish second overall and first in my age group.

Later that same week while on an easy run, I had my first incidence of a full blown asthma attack. I coughed, I wheezed, I cried (it’s very scary and emotional if you don’t know what’s happening) which made it even worse. Because my mother had suffered from asthma all her life, I figured out what was going on, made a doctor’s appointment and got my first inhaler.

December 1996: I ran my first marathon, in Honolulu. Starting about mile 16 in the race, I started having problems breathing and began using my inhaler. It slowed me down considerably, but I finished.

Honolulu-Marathon

1997: My doctor tried a variety of medications. At one point, I was using three different inhalers and a pill that I took daily. It did help, but that’s an awful lot of medicine.

1998: I created a holster in which I could carry my asthma inhaler. After seeing a woman using a similar one at the San Diego Marathon (it was a gift so she didn’t know where it came from), I used the belt loop part of a flashlight holster with a big paper clip. The inhaler fit perfectly and was easily at hand whenever I needed it. I should have patented it and gone into production. I was asked about it at every race I ever did.

June 2002: The first marathon I ever dropped out of because of my asthma, Rock and Roll in San Diego. You can fight through a lot of things, pain, tiredness, but you really need to be able to breathe, and I couldn’t. I also dropped out of the same race two years later. The only races I’ve ever dropped out of for any reason.

2006: After a knee injury slowed my times and I just got tired of fighting the asthma, I ran my last marathon. For the next few years, I continued to run and race, but never trained at a very high level. I still had the asthma problems during races, but they were infrequent enough so that I stopped taking all the preventative medications and just stuck with my rescue inhaler (albuterol).

2013: With renewed enthusiasm for running, I decided to train hard with a goal of running a sub-2 hour half marathon for the first time in years. That meant adding speed workouts back to my schedule and running longer and harder. It also meant the return of the asthma. Alan (who suffers from asthma too) had been having great success with montelukast, which is the generic version of Singulair. I decided I wanted to try it as well, and after multiple allergy and other tests given by my doctor, I picked up my first prescription.

Exercise Induced Asthma - Health Ox Oximeter

In my first race while using the montelukast, I still had a few issues. I think one of the problems is that I was taking it in the evening before bed. I should have taken it in the morning, a couple hours before the race. Hindsight is 20/20, but I will know this for next time. I did, however, accomplish my goal of running a two hour half marathon.

Fast forward to 2015. After running the Rock and Roll Marathon last June, my first in over eight years, I am now training for the SLO Marathon, which is in April. I have stated that I want to run a strong race, so that means thinking about asthma medication again. I’ll be sticking with the combination of montelukast, along with a rescue inhaler. I don’t start using the medication until about three months out from the race. That is when I start to increase both the intensity and distance of my runs. I’m hopeful that the combination of medication and sticking with my training program will get me across the finish line one more time.

That’s my story. Now a little bit about Exercise Induced Asthma.

What is Exercise Induced Asthma?

If you cough, wheeze or feel out of breath during or after exercise, it may be more than exertion that is the cause. If you feel tingling in your extremities, dizziness, or like you are breathing through a straw, you may be experiencing Exercise Induced Asthma. Even if you’ve never had any breathing issues in the past, EIA may be causing you to slow down, drop out, and begin to wonder if exercise is all it’s cracked up to be.

Having Exercise Induced Asthma does not mean that you should stop exercising. On the contrary, exercise helps to strengthen your entire cardio pulmonary system, and proper treatment of the condition can help keep you active, whether you are an elite level swimmer, an age group runner, or a weekend warrior.

Symptoms of Exercise Induced Asthma

Some of the symptoms of Exercise Induced Asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightening in the chest, fatigue during exercise, and poor athletic poor performance. These can happen during or after exercise. Many people don’t realize they have EIA because they think the symptoms are their body’s response to exercise.

My personal symptoms start with a feeling like tingling in my extremities. I always think that they feel like they are not getting enough oxygen. I start to feel weak and my body suddenly needs to slow down. If I try to push through, I feel like the continued lack of oxygen will cause me to faint and even feel like I have encroaching blackness in my peripheral vision.

As asthma attack can be a life threatening occurrence. Get immediate medical help if your symptoms continue to worsen even after using a rescue inhaler or if your symptoms continue after you are finished with your workout.

Causes & Risk Factors

While no one really knows why one person suffers from EIA while another doesn’t, some things that increase the likelihood of an attack include cold, dry weather, air pollution, high pollen counts, chemicals (such as chlorine in a swimming pool), and having a cold or other respiratory infection.

Again, my personal experience is that warm, humid climates make it more likely to have an attack (contrary to everything I have read, but have heard from others). I also have difficulties at high altitudes, especially during the adaptation period. And while I will occasionally have an EIA attack during shorter, high intensity exercise, I seem to have more problems during lower intensity, but longer efforts.

Those who have asthma that is triggered by other causes are more likely to have EIA, as are children, smokers, and high intensity exerciser (like runners).

Treatment

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So what is an athlete to do? For many people, a couple puffs from a quick relief inhaler such as Albuterol is enough to control symptoms.  These are called bronchodilators and can help open the airways during an attack as well.

If a bronchodilator is not enough, speak to your doctor regarding the medications that are available to prevent asthma attacks. This type of medication is taken on a daily basis to help reduce inflammation and keep your airway open.

In order to prevent an EIA attack, several things are known to help, including a long warm-up of 10 minutes or more, trying to breathe through your nose, covering your mouth in cold dry weather, and if allergens cause you to experience EIA, avoid them as much as possible (maybe skip a workout on a high pollen or pollution day).

Don’t stop exercising. As I mentioned, exercising improves your lung function, so it is an important factor in the control of asthma symptoms. And don’t be discouraged. It may take a while to find the right combination of medications. I have finished 36 marathons with (in spite of) Exercise Induced Asthma, with a PR of 3:16, and many races of shorter distances, so it is possible to race and train at a pretty high level.

Remember, I am not a doctor! If you are experiencing Exercise Induced Asthma symptoms or feel like you are having difficulties breathing during exercise consult your own physician. While I researched the topic, I am speaking from my own experience and yours may be completely different.

The Scoop: Blogfest and IDEAWorld. Gabby, Jillian, Beto and more!

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The powers that be at IDEA have finally released the speaker list and schedule for Blogfest and the IDEA World Fitness Convention, which is July 16-19, 2015 at the Los Angeles Convention Center! Pay attention because you will want to be there after you read this.

Blogfest

You may have heard that Gabrielle Reece will be the keynote speaker for Blogfest 2015, but did you know that she will also be leading a workout? That’s right, Gabby will be teaching the fitness workout she created – HighX!

Laird Hamilton

I never met Gabby Reece, but I did have a chance to meet her hubby Laird Hamilton at a fitness convention a couple years ago.

In addition to High-X, there are several other options for getting your sweat on at Blogfest. Dancer Ian Waite will be teaching his class Dance Yourself Fit. On Friday you can wake up to Kaia Fit with creator Nikki Warren. And while it’s not a workout, you will get a chance to get Up Close and Personal with Zumba creator Beto Perez.

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And if that’s not enough fitness for you, on Saturday and Sunday you will have exclusive access to all of the IDEA World Fitness Convention sessions, including the workouts, which include the Hollywood Trainer Ultimate Mash-up with celebrity trainer Jeanette Jenkins, Bodyshred with Jillian Michaels, Zumba, taught by it’s creator Beto Perez, plus many workshops that will include lectures and workouts. And that’s just Saturday!

Jillian and others

Of course you come to blogging and fitness conventions for more than just workouts. You won’t be disappointed. Blogfest sessions include topics such as: How to Increase Readership and Market Your Message to the Masses; Mindblowing Blog Tips; Busting the Top 5 Nutrition Myths; Build a Following on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter (three separate sessions); Make a Career Out of Blogging; The Future of Blogging; and SEO Tips and Tricks. Speakers include Katy Widrick, Melissa Burton, RD, Kasey Arena, Amanda Vogel, and many more. Check here for the complete schedule.

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I was fortunate to meet Katy Widrick at Blogfest 2014.

Along with your access to all of the sessions, workouts, and speakers at IDEA World on Saturday and Sunday, all Blogfest attendees also are invited to the opening ceremonies on July 16, which include keynote speaker New York Times best selling author Brendon Burchard, 2015 IDEA Jack LaLanne award recipient Jenna Wolfe, and 2015 IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award winner Anthony Robles. And you won’t want to miss the IDEA World party!

And don’t forget that the IDEA World Fitness and Nutrition Expo runs July 16-18, 11:30 to 6:30. It is one of the largest fitness expos in the world, so come prepared to network, chat, shop, and eat your way through the LA Convention Center expo hall.

Perhaps the best part of Blogfest, and one of the main reasons I will be back, is the opportunity to meet so many of the people whose blogs you have been reading for years. To finally put a voice and a face (beyond a photograph) to these women and men is priceless, and it really is what makes Blogfest such an important event to add to your schedule.

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I have a special code that will save you $100 on your registration! Just click here to sign up and use the code BLOG100 at checkout. There are a limited amount of openings, so don’t delay.

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I’ll be there! Will you? What blogger would you especially like to meet?

Start Living Your Legacy. Win a $100 Gift Card to Help

Thanks to Medtronic for sponsoring today’s conversation.

 

Live On. Give On.

Imagine facing a life threatening illness. We are faced with many challenges in this world, and overcoming a serious disease can take all the energy, determination, and courage that most of us have. I’d like to introduce you to a group of 10 people who, after overcoming their own illness then in turn used that life saving determination and courage to help others.

Live On Infographic

These 10 people are the 2014 Bakken Invitation honorees. People who not only saved their own lives, but used their “extra life” to help others. People like David Watkins, who after finally being diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve, asked himself as he was being wheeled into surgery, “what is my legacy?” After undergoing multiple surgeries, a complicated recovery which included a stroke, David finally recovered and decided that he needed to use his second chance at life to create that legacy. To that end, he started the Ironheart Foundation, and began connecting with recovering heart patients who were getting active through sport.

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As one of the Bakken Invitation honorees, David will direct a $20,000 grant to the Ironheart Foundation. David’s words of inspiration, which speak to me personally, are “Start living your legacy.”

David Watkins

While I could only hope to have the courage and determination that David and the other Bakken Invitation honorees have shown, I, along with my husband Alan, try to do our own part with the animals in our community. Most of my readers know about the dogs that we rescue, but I don’t write as frequently about the feral cats that we care for. Not only do we feed and take care of their medical needs, we also spay and neuter as many as we can, plus try to tame the inevitable kittens so that we can find them homes. It is expensive, sometimes heartbreaking, and always rewarding, as we work to take care of the feral cats while trying to reduce their numbers, frequently dealing with city and county officials, negotiating with veterinarians, and working to keep the neighbors happy.

Cats

Medtronic would like to help you “Start living your legacy” by giving you a $100 Visa gift card to do good in your own community. To win, simply visit the Bakken Invitation website and tell me which of the honorees most inspires you. Then let me know how you could use a $100 to help your community.

The Visa gift card winner will be randomly selected on December 30 from among the commenters who followed the above instructions. The winner must be 18 or older and be a resident of the US. While the winner can use the gift card in any way that they like, they should use it to benefit their community.

Getting Outside with LÄRABAR (plus a Giveaway)

Today’s post is sponsored by LÄRABAR but my love of their bars is all my own.

Get Outside

I love to exercise outdoors. I am a runner first and foremost, and as I have, ahem, gotten a little older, I appreciate more and more the joy of trail running. Some days, though, it’s great to slow things down, lace up my hiking boots (or retired running shoes in my case), and hit the trails for a hike.

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I am so fortunate that I live less than a half mile away from some of the best hiking trails in the world. While not your typical woodsy trails with lovely streams running through them, the desert has its own subtle beauty, and your hike or run can be as easy or challenging as you want to make it.

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Do you want to put some effort into it, find hidden desert treasures, and spend several hours exploring the trails? Try the Bear Creek Oasis Trail. Would you rather have a more moderate, flat, sightseeing hike? Try the Bear Creek Canyon Trail or simply circle the Oasis. There is even a trail that will lead you about 14 miles up the Santa Rosa Mountains, ending up at 4,000 feet elevation! There truly is something for everybody.

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I kept it simple on my hike this week. I was alone for one thing, so I felt more comfortable with the Oasis loop, plus I just got over my cold, so I really didn’t need any challenges. That makes the packing simple too. I just loaded up my backpack with water, a handful of LÄRABARs, and a couple packs of RENOLA. Easy breezy!

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Eat Clean

I have been a huge fan of LÄRABAR for years. I’m always looking for plant based snacks, and most LÄRABARs are not only vegan and soy-free, they are all gluten free, non-GMO, and made with simple whole ingredients. For example, my favorite, Pecan Pie, has only dates, pecans, and almonds. You can’t get more real than that.

Larabar8I was first introduced to RENOLA at IDEAWorld Expo, where I picked up a couple packages at the LÄRABAR booth. RENOLA is a blend of fruit, nuts, and seeds, like a combination of trail mix and granola. It is gluten and grain free, and super easy to stash in your purse or bag for a quick snack on the go.

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I received a LÄRAbag full of goodies from LÄRABAR so that I could fuel my hike and let you know about the pure clean goodness of their products and also to make sure that you knew about National Take a Hike Day, which is on November 17. It’s a great day, and a great way, to #GetOutside and #EatClean.

larabar12The story behind LÄRABAR is very simple too. Founder Lara Merriken was hiking in the Colorado Rockies one day, and began to wonder why there wasn’t a convenient, wholesome alternative to trail mix that was easy to carry and eat. In that instant, in May 2000, LÄRABAR was born.

Win a LÄRABAR Prize Pack of your own!

Here is your chance to win a LÄRABAR prize pack with 16 assorted LÄRABARs and packs of RENOLA! All you have to do is visit the LÄRABAR site and tell me in the comments what flavor of LÄRABAR and what flavor of RENOLA that you are excited to try. There are over 20 flavors including some seasonal ones that will make your mouth water. The contest ends at midnight on November 7.

Save with this Coupon on your next LÄRABAR purchase!

Can’t wait? Live from La Quinta readers can get this coupon for .50 off any LÄRABAR! Click here for your coupon.

National Take a Hike Day

Don’t forget that National Take a Hike Day is on November 17! You can join LÄRABAR and me, and get outside to enjoy a hike on trails near you. You can share your stories and photos, and read about others’ adventures by using the hashtag #getoutside and #eatclean. I can’t wait to hear your stories!

Contest Rules: Must be 18 years old and a resident of the US to enter. To enter visit the LÄRABAR website and tell me in the comments the flavors of  LÄRABAR and RENOLA you would like to try. The winner will be randomly chosen from all entrants who answered the question in the comments. The contest ends at midnight November 7 and a winner will be selected and notified within 24 hours. The winner must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be selected.

What flavors of LÄRABAR and RENOLA would you like to try? Do you have a #getoutside story to tell?

In Order to Form a More Active Nation: Lorna Jane Active Nation Day

There’s a holiday coming up on Sunday that you might not know about. It’s Lorna Jane Active Nation Day! While you may not get a paid day off from work, there are still many reasons to be excited about the day.

Active Nation Logo_1What is Active Nation Day?

Active Nation Day is an event formed by Lorna Jane in 2012 to help inspire women everywhere to live an active and authentic life.

It’s really easy to participate. First of all, just move! Do something fun and active, and you will be celebrating Active Nation Day in style! I’m planning a long run on Sunday (long for me right now is about eight six miles). I might even make it to a yoga class!

Rock and Roll

Rocking my favorite Lorna Jane top at the Rock and Roll Marathon last June.

To make it even more fun, Lorna Jane will be hosting events all over the world where an amazing sisterhood of women can learn and take part in a choreographed fitness routine. Since the closest location to me is in Santa Monica, over two hours away, I’m making plans to celebrate right here in the desert. You can check here to see if there is an event close to you.

Don’t despair if you’re not near one of the event cities, though. You can also download the Lorna Jane app!

LJ App

This awesome app is designed to help keep you inspired to follow Lorna Jane’s mantras of Move, Nourish, and Believe. To Move, you can choose from a long list of fitness choices, and the app will help you track your activity.  Nourishing yourself is easy, find information, encouragement and delicious recipes on the Nourish tab, and if you need more inspiration, updating the Believe page will offer up a variety of motivational quotes. There are badges to unlock, so make sure to use the app on September 28 so you can unlock the Active Nation Day badge! The Lorna Jane app is available for both iPhone and android phones.

Learn the LJ Move

Now, if you really want to get involved and have some fun on Active Nation Day, your next step is to learn the LJ Move, share it on social media, and maybe. just maybe, you might win a $1,000 Lorna Jane Gift Card. I’m still working on my LJ move, but to give you a little help, check out this video.

To enter to win a $1,000 gift card to Lorna Jane Active remember to take a photo or video of you (and your friends if you want), doing the LJ Move. Post it to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and be sure to use the hashtags #ActiveNationDay and #LJMove. Then tag your friends and invite them to try out the LJ Move themselves!  Here are the #LJMove Contest Terms and Conditions.

If you need still more inspiration, check out this video that will be sure to help motivate you to get moving and Be that Girl.

What are your plans for Active Nation Day, September 28, 2014? What is your favorite way to Move?

 

I was given the opportunity to help Lorna Jane spread the word about her Active Nation Day campaign thru my affiliation with FitApproach and as a Sweat Pink ambassador.  My #MNBbracelet is on the way as my thank you for participating.

Get Your Seasonal Flu Shot and Give a Shot

 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
All opinions are mine alone. #GetAShot #Collective Bias

 

Even though the weather in the desert is still (very) warm, fall is approaching quickly. Before we know it, the weather will be cooler, more time will be spent indoors, and the season will be here. Flu season that is. It’s already time to start thinking about your seasonal flu immunization.

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As a person with asthma, I know that flu shots are an important part of staying healthy over the next few months. Did you know that, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), while people with asthma aren’t any more likely to get the flu, influenza can be much more serious for people with asthma, even if their symptoms are well controlled with medication. So, while I seldom have problems with my exercise induced asthma, I always make sure to get my seasonal flu shot.

Other groups that should get an immunization against the flu include children under five years old, adults 65 and older, and pregnant women.  Other people at high risk include those with chronic lung disease such as COPD, heart disease, endocrine disorders such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease. or immune disorders. For a complete list, check the CDC website.

Get a Shot

For the last few years I have gotten my seasonal flu shot from my neighborhood Walgreens. Not only is it close to home, and doesn’t need an appointment, they also accept most insurance plans. To make it even better, this year Walgreens has introduced their Get a Shot, Give a Shot program.

#GetAShot

What is Get a Shot, Give a Shot? Very simple. For every flu shot or other immunization that you get at Walgreens now through October 13, you will help to provide a life saving vaccine to a child in a developing country through the United Nation Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign.

In many parts of the world, children fall victim to diseases that are completely preventable. Immunization has successfully saved so many lives, yet 1 in 5 children in developing countries still lack access to these life-saving vaccinations. Coordinated worldwide vaccination efforts have made progress, particularly in reducing the cases of polio and measles.

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That made it easy. Not only did I get my seasonal flu shot at Walgreens, I’ve been telling everyone about the #GetAShot program (even random strangers who saw my bandage). As a bonus, my local Walgreens’ pharmacist is also a friend, whose mom lives right up the street from us. He even let me take a picture of him after I told him about this post supporting the program. Good sport!

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Walgreens has also donated $10 million worth of flu shots to American’s without health insurance coverage to help drive immunization rates among underserved populations throughout the country.

Getting a flu shot only takes a few seconds, and you could help save someone’s life. That’s worth it, isn’t it? Have you had your flu shot yet?