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Asthma and Running and running out of puff

Hi All,

Im new to this forum my name is Jamie.

I have been running reasonably serious now for about 4 years, I have always had alittle bit of Asthma and always used Blue Ventolin as a reliever before training runs and races and always managed to get by

Since about christmas of this year, I began really struggling. It would always be in the first 10-20 minutes of a run, and at first I just manage to run through it sometimes using my reliever. Other times just breathing like a steam train. In january I initially put this down to cold weather and thought it would go away.

As of late I have not been able to run through these episodes and my reliver will not get me through either. It really has got quite unpleasant. I went to see the asthma nurse, and she put me on serevent as well as my becotide. I have been on this for about 2 weeks now. I have still not noticed an improvement.

I did not really realise how bad my episodes where until I started taking peak flows.

On my last run, before I started it was 460. Im told for a 31 yr old man. It should be on 620. I ran for 10 minutes and finally had to bow out to the asthma, it was horrible. I then measured my peak flow on a best of 3 basis and could not get above 230.

I was told by a collaegue that this is pretty damn serious. To cut a long story short I have gone from being quite a capable runner running 50miles per week, with my longest run of 20miles. To not being able to manamge 10 minutes.

I guess Im really after other peoples advice on running with asthma. Are my PF's really bad and whether or not I should be running or am I just doing myself more damage.

Can anyone advise on this.

Many Thanks


11 Replies

Hi Jamie, and welcome to the forum.

What you describe is pretty ""barn-door"" exercise-induced asthma. Sometimes this can be a reflection of poor asthma control overall, but at other times it can almost ""stand alone"".

Many people can have asthma for a long time and not have any problems, but then seem to suffer a sudden downturn in their symptoms. Could this episode have been triggered by running in the cold weather? Possibly, and now the symptoms are persisting. The main thing is - don't panic, the prognosis is good, and once you've got things under control they're likely to improve significantly. Sounds like you're not there yet, though, and as it's been 2 months since you started Serevent, then you need to be paying another trip to your asthma nurse and be telling her all of what you've told us here!

I have something of a vested interest in replying to your post because I suffer with very similar problems myself with EIA. Exactly as you describe with that ""wall"" at about 15-20 mins that sometimes you can get through, sometimes you can't. I used to be a very ""sporty spice"" throughout my teens, then got sideswiped by asthma and have only recently started getting back into running again - I have found it extremely difficult, and very frustrating because of the variable nature of my symptoms. Somedays you can get through that wall, others, as you say, you're just chuffing like a steam train and going nowhere fast.

Peak flows are a difficult thing to comment on - the predicted numbers really are only a guide, and you should base your expectations on you own personal ""best ever"" reading rather than sticking too rigidly to charts. For example, my predicted PEFR (female, 27, 160cm) is something like 430l/min. However, my own personal best is 510l/min, and by the time I hit 430l/min I'm starting to feel rather grotty!

As regards whether you're doing more damage - hmmmm - likely not, no. Running on cold days and amongst a lot of pollution ain't a good plan (I can vouch for this by recent experience when we had that cold snap last week!!). Exercise has been shown to actually improve symptoms amongst asthmatics, so the general advice is exercise within limitations. It's probably best to get your asthma more stable before attempting any more serious training. On a personal level, I let my body tell me how much training to do, when - if we're doing well, I'll do a long run; if not, I'll cut short and go home.

For me, the asthma medication that gave me the most benefit was montelukast (singulair) - it is supposed to be specifically good for exercise-induced and allergic asthma.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on.




Thanks for your reply Cath Bear,

Its only been 2 weeks on the serevent, Im due with the nurse on friday. I have been tying myself in knotts about this to be honest.

I have recently moved house, into a old terraced house(dust free, wooden floors). I have been going down various routes as to what could possibly be affecting my running. I blamed horse hair plaster. Then I started chopping my diet.

Its now sprung to my mind that i painted the bedroom once I moved in. Fair enough I did give it time, but I was sleeping in the room within a week of painting it. I have also gone down the stress route (house move, money tight). All these things I really have started to tie myself in knots.

I demanded (politley) a chest X Ray of the doctor, (waiting for results). Im in the mind set now that maybe the paint has set my chest off and perhaps its still a little sensitive. Hence the running just fires it up again.

What I did find interesting is, when I hit the 15 -20 minute mark and the reliver just does not help. I find if I just go home, spend an hour or two getting my breatihing right. I then go out and I can run for as long as I possibly can without an attack.

Its like I have got it out of my system.

But I think you can gatherfrom my post, this thing has really got me chasing my tail, trying to get to the bottom of it. I have even thought that it could be a mental thing. Its like I now expect it to happen at the 20minute mark

Thanks for your reply



I have been running now for 2 years and yes it has involved inhaler changes. I found the first 10 mins hard going and ventolin did nothing. I was changed to Seretide (Serevent and flixotide combined inhaler) which has been fantastic.

However all runners (well maybe not the elite ones) will tell you the first 10mins are the hardest until your body has warmed up. Try doing the first bit slower until you feel comfy and then extend into your stride.

I always take my ventolin with me but rarely need it. If I feel crackly before a run I have a puff of it then before I set off. Keep going it will do you a power of good!


Hello Jamie.

You aren't doing yourself damage…..

If you have reached a certain level of aerobic endurance, ( being able to run for around an hour without stopping, whatever the pace) then you will be able to cope with EIA.

Most importantly, your body -heart in particular)-will be able to cope with asthmatic exacerbations at other times. Whatever the trigger.

Any other sort of aerobic endurance exercise/sports, for example, cycling, swimming and ummm cross country skiing, all of which develop the heart as a pump, will also help anyone who suffers from asthma, let alone EIA.

The key to maintaining control over EIA is to always have a prolonged warmup. The shorter the distance, the longer the warmup. If you are running a 10k for example, then allow at least twenty minutes warm-up.

Are you listening out there if doing the AUK Lake Dorney 10k run? I hope so!

If you are running ultra distance, forty miles plus,- my previous favourite distance – then no warmup is needed.

Have to say though – like Cathbear’s excellent advice- is that it sounds as if your asthma is out of control, especially re your age and PF function, so ….. go kick some ass and ask for other alternative meds that will allow you to exercise - there are so many meds out there – to help regain control over your asthma.

Asthmatic athletes can train and compete with only a thirty percent lung function! I'm a living , sort of breathing example! LOL.

But at your age you don’t need/want to do that.

Good luck with the running.



Thanks for your replies everyone.

Im going to go for a little run tommorow, Ill take Mia's advice and warm up very slowly indeed may even walk for a bit.

Ill check my peak flow before hand and after. Hopefully I wont run into a full on attack again. Its probably just as important to warm up properly something which I rarely do (I know). So I could avoid an attack by simply doing that.

Ill report back tommorow. Thanks loads



HI all,

Tried a short run last with a very slow warm up. I took my PF before my run it was 460. I then had two blasts on my blue inhlaer and set off. Again I was fine for the first 15 minutes of the warm up, then I started to get coughy and blowy. I eased off slightly and was barely jogging. I carried on for another ten or so minutes. Then had to give in to the reliver inhaler. I then struggled through another ten minutes then bowed out. During the last ten minutes I had 4 blasts on the reliver inhlaer, it was just to difficult and the reliever was not getting me right, so I gave up the goat.

I was breathing very heavy and measured my peak flow it was down to 250. It then took me about another hour to get my breathing right. With a few more blasts on the blue inhaler.

I managed 3.5miles, before this run I had, had 5 days break from running and felt great and confident I would get through it unscathed.

Oh well, I'll give it another 5 days and try again.



Give it another five days Jamie. You know it makes sense!

Have PM'ed you.



Great News

Manage to survive a 6 mile run tonight. I took the first 15minutes very slow, then upped the pace slightly. I did start to sound like a steam train as I got faster, but never felt unconfortably like I have been doing.

My starting peak flow was 550

My peak flow after finishing 400

I dont feel to uncomfy just a bit blowy. I put it down to the preventer meds and the slow warm up.

Ill have a few days off now and have a run on thursday.






I've PM'd you, but thought I'd summarise - I've suffered for 20 years, and only recently been disciplined to get my asthma under control. Now I used flixotide day and night and virtually NEVER need ventolin. It is near miraculous given the amount of the blue evil that I used to pump down my neck.

Am running the London Marathon in 19 days and will have my ventolin with me, but I DO NOT intend to use it!! :)

It does sound like you've tied yourself in knots over it, and we all know symptoms are exacerbated by worry/stress. Be firm with your doctor, and firm with yourself in terms of sticking to doses, be patient as these take weeks to work, not days. Sorry if I'm saying things you already know backwards btw!

good luck



Thanks Simon,

I have sent you a message, my peaks flows ar eon the up I hit 550 last night. I have usually been around 400-450 until starting the meds. This would drop to 230 after ten minutes running

I ran last night and managed 6 miles and did not need ventolin during or after. Although my peak flow did drop to 400 afterwards.

The thing that is concerning me today is the fact that I cannot get over 500 on PF whereas most of last week I was hitting 500+ every time. Does anyone think it could have been down to the run I did last night damaging my lungs




HI all

Just a quick update, Im back running hassle free. Im working my purple inhaler morning and night.

I stayed off the montelakust after they gave me terrible nightmares after just four days.

My peak flows are never getting over 500, Im thinknig that could be bad for a 5.9"" 31yr old male. Ill just have to keep working those.

Just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who replied and took interest in this thread. Many of you sent me PM's that did put my mind at ease. I'm going to get myself fit now for the summer races, and next year I will try to enter London and run for either asthma UK or Motor Nuerons Disease.

Many thanks, I will continue to view the forum



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