Asthma UK community forum
9,861 members16,625 posts

Would love to run a marathon

I did a 10K before I got the chest infection that started my asthma and I would really love to do the first Bradford marathon (although I accept I may need to wait a year or two).

I wondered if anyone had any tips on running (or run / walking - I am going to keep up the walking breaks) with asthma. Over the last few months with lots of walking, Wii Fit (especially Yoga) and eventually EA Sports Active, I have built up my fitness enough to start running again.

8 Replies

Cathbear, one of the moderators on this forum & a GP, ran the last London marathon - see here . It might be worth PMing herbest of luck,Claire


As an asthmatic and a runner myself, you have made a good start. The best advice is to work at it slowly, use you reliever inhaler before you go, and take it with you, warm up gently to start with, and when you finish. Biggest problem I had was with the winter, the cold air aggravated my lungs, making my asthma worse, so found using a scarf or buff over my mouth and nose helped, keeps the cold air out, and as you breath out, you get warm air to breath in again.

Swimming might be another option, great CV fitness booster, and a warm humid atmosphere, but be careful, some people find humidity a problem.

Also Yoga, great for the breathing in asthmatics, so good luck, keep it up if you can.


Hi Bookhunter,

Good for you for aiming to run a marathon with asthma.

As you probably already know many elite athletes participate at the highest level, for example, the Olympics, with asthma. Footballers, cyclists, runners, swimmers in fact any sport you can think of include people who suffer from asthma and to include different levels of asthmatic severity.

The key factor for anyone wanting to complete a marathon distance is to build up an endurance aerobic capacity. In plain English that means being able to run, jog, walk for at least five to six hours without stopping.

There are many numerous training schedules available through websites and journals to help improve aerobic running strength. Have copied and pasted a bona fide web ref below.

Perhaps the most obvious tip is that of extended running training sessions – at least two hours, once per week, during which you are always able to talk to your partner ( you need to find someone who shares the same goal as you to be able to train with on a regular basis, best of all for three times a week) so that you train to a level without going into anaerobic debt, an absolutely key factor when aiming to improve aerobic endurance.

I could go on to write an extended essay/email on this topic, but much as I would like to, won’t. I’m sure other keen asthmatic runners will come along and share their advice and guidance.

Of course it goes without saying you MUST maintain control of asthma symptoms. Easier said than done. There is nothing more dispiriting than having to withdraw from a training session/race because prescribed medication has been forgotten, ignored or just arrogantly … ignored. I’m guilty of all three.

On a positive note as a severe asthmatic who has already permanently lost 30% of lung function, and who can still run, albeit VERY slowly, compared to past, now bitten the dust, marathon glories, I know I’ll be able to complete a local half marathon very soon because of the development of long-term aerobic endurance over many years, plus the now accepted aid of a cocktail of pred plus inhaler drugs.

I’m just so glad I don’t have to undergo a doping test anymore!

Go for it Bookhunter but give yourself twelve months for being able to comfortably complete the marathon distance. If you feel REALLY confident and your asthma is very well controlled and this is your first marathon then allow six months of comfortable long distance aerobic training.


PS I see from your profile you like music. The latest research is that runners improve oxygen uptake and other benefits when listening to music during training. Have to say I enjoy the ‘music’ of the countryside most when training off road.

I love music - all sorts – it wakes every sense and is positively therapeuti.

Could listening to favourite music improve asthma symtoms?



I have pretty badly controlled asthma and have had several hospital admissions and chest infections in the last year. I was doing a lot of rowing but the early morning cold air and the general damp led to too many problems with my asthma so I now run. In fact next Sunday I am meant to be running in the Royal Parks Half Marathon (and raising money for Asthma Research UK).

I don't have exercise induced asthma and so some of the time I have no problems doing quite a lot of training, in fact I find that regular cardiovascular exercise has a hugely positive effect on the state of my lungs and seems to decrease the amount of time I spend overall on the dreaded pred.

However, I do find that I have to start training far earlier than most for a race as I always end up having to take some breaks from it during flare ups and infections. I have also had to miss races in the past when I have not been well enough to compete so I tend to enter quite a few events during the year so it is not too crushing if I can't make them all.

Over the summer I mainly run outside, as long as I am dosed up on antihistamines, but as it gets colder I only run outside at weekends so I can go in the warmest part of the day and I wear long sleeved base layers to keep my chest warm and dry. I then switch to running in the gym in the evenings or when the weather gets to bad. In short, go for it, you just need to take more care and time over training than most.

Also, using a nasal rinse regularly really helps keep the airways open and therefore running easier.

Good Luck!



I hope she doesnt mind me mentioning. but it may be worth asking cathbear about marathon running as she is AUK's resident runner she maybe able to offer you soem advice etc about trainign and things.



I'm a fairly new runner too. I'm also thinking about maybe doing a marathon some day, though right now I don't think it will be in the too close future! I just did a 16K a couple weeks ago, and am now training (or will be as soon as my asthma settles down again) for a half marathon in Tromso.

Don't know if it's the asthma, or just my lack of running ability (and a few lbs excess weight, oops), but I'm not the fastest runner around. So far, I haven't tried to work on that, just been happy with being able to run at all, something I never thought I'd be able to do.

What I've also noticed a couple times recently at events is that I get really wheezy right after finishing the race, which doesn't happen to me when I'm training. I'm not generally running any faster in the races, but I have done a (small) sprint finish. I'm not sure if this is something generally you should watch out for, or just a sign of the fact that my asthma could have been better controlled recently (I'm trying to summon up courage to ring the doctor's and make an appointment. will do it this week, promise!)

Good luck Bookhunter, I'm sure if you take it at your own pace, you will reach your marathon goal!


Thanks everyone for your advice. I found a conditional plan on the Jeff Galloway website which I'm making a start with. It's going well although I couldn't do anything last week as I hurt my foot.


Sorry, today's been the first time I've read this and had the time to respond, rather than just ""moderator-reading"" it!

Bookhunter, I think most of it has already been said, particularly Mia's excellent post. People will look at you goggle-eyed if you tell them you have asthma and are going to run a marathon; but please don't let anyone put you off. People with asthma can, and regularly do, run marathons.

I *do* have EIA and the hardest part of running I found was getting back into it after having been away from it for a few years. It sounds like you've made a good start though; I found that building up a good cardiovascular base using static (indoor, nice warm air) exercise machines was very helpful in getting over this hurdle.

Warm up very, very slowly. Endurance running is about going long and not going fast - so start running, then run slower. When I started marathon training my long runs were around 11min/mile pace. They've sped up a bit now ;-) but I've got a better endurance base to build that speed on.

Find someone who is prepared to support you. Marathon training, even the three-runs-per-week schedules, makes you a bit potty. If you can't find a training partner, join online forums for the running support, and have an understanding real-life friend to vent at!

Most importantly, get your asthma under control - go a bit OCD about it, really fine-tune it, because this will help you the most. If you need to, pay a visit to your local friendly asthma nurse or GP to achieve this.

And....enjoy it. I did. So much so, I'm doing it again next year :-D


(resident insantity moderator)


You may also like...