Couch to 5K
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Asthma, colds, winter and running

Hello everyone, I'm new here and I've been trying the Couch to 5k for a few months now. I'm struggling with quite a few set backs after starting over on the 7th September. I reached week 2 run 3 last week, but came down with a nasty cold. I have asthma which is especially bad when I'm ill, so I took a week off to recover, but now I'm nervous about starting again. The weather here has just turned very autumny, and I'm also concerned that this will make the asthma worse. I've already been taking the program slower than recommended, repeating runs up to three times before moving on, but still running three times a week.

Any advice for a struggling asthmatic to keep progressing in the cold weather, no matter how slow the pace? It's a tricky time of year for us with all the cold and flu bugs!

8 Replies

So sorry to hear you're struggling. I'm not asthmatic, but my wife is, so I know cold weather can be a tough time.

Don't worry about repeating weeks. The 9 week programme is only a guideline and only you know how often and far you should be running. If you can learn to breathe in through your nose, this helps the lungs by warming incoming air as it passes through the nasal passage, as well as filtering out nasties! It may also help to keep the adrenaline in check, allowing for deeper breaths into the diaphragm, rather than relying on the top of the lungs.

Do you live in a built-up area? Is there somewhere you can run that's not anywhere near traffic? I've cycled in really cold weather with a mask on in the past, but I've never tried running with one!

Best of luck and keep with it!


Hi there I have asthma and bronchiectasis both of which hamper my exercise at times. My tips for coping with running in cold weather are - have some ventolin about 10 to 15 mins before you start, warm up properly before you start to run (at least 5 mins brisk walk) and have something to cover your mouth and nose which doesn't restrict your breathing but helps warm the air. I found that a Buff is ideal, especially the merino wool one that my lovely husband bought for me! I have also learnt nordic walking as I find that I can do this when my lungs wont let me run.

Good Luck



Hi, I have asthma too and also suffer with the change to cold damp weather. All I can suggest is 1) never leave home without your Ventolin (or whatever reliever you use) 2) make sure you never miss taking your 'preventer' (steroid) inhaler, ever. 3) if you're already wheezy it's probably not a good idea to begin a run. 4) Someone (MissWobble I think) recommended that I bought a buff for the cold weather. Haven't got one yet but I will. They're like a light weight snood thingy, I think, that you can cover your mouth and nose with to warm the air entering your lungs. Sometimes it's the sudden arrival of cold damp air that can trigger an attack. 5) if you're at all worried, you should check with your GP or the practice asthma nurse.

Very best of luck rayajade. You have my sympathy as I've had to cancel several runs recently myself because I knew it would be the wrong thing for me to even attempt to run. The good news is that once we get used to the cold weather, we'll probably be just fine. Take care


Not asthmatic but in a previous, fitter existence I did winter running with a buff (my neck binkie, a fleece fold over short tube neck thing which is also handy for keeping hair out of eyes when weeding or having a facial - an all round fab piece of kit) which I could pull up over my nose. I just hate how sharp the cold air is up my hooter. Don't remember it restricting my breathing at all.

Hope you can resolve your cold-weather running dilemma. Best of luck.


Hi, I too am asthmatic and agree with all the advice above especially taking your ventolin with you. I just wanted to add that I had a lot of problems in the first few months - a chest infection, sinus problems - which is very frustrating but I just took the tablets, looked after myself and got back into the program when I felt able to. I began in April and gradually things improved due to the exercise and weight loss that came with C25K and my asthma became less of a problem. On my last asthma clinic at the end of August my peak flow etc was tremendously improved... in fact the nurse made me do all the tests a second time as she couldn't believe the improvement after years of static readings :) So do keep at it, it is worth it in so many ways.


That's good to know, as my sister has asthma and started the programme, I just got a buff ( so she will keep up the running in winter) now I know what one is thanks to poppy pug. So I have just let her know about the added benefits of the buff etc


Wow thank you everyone, such a positive response! I ended up going back to Week 2 run 2 for today, which was successful so I'm feeling more positive than earlier! I am pretty good with both my inhalers, and always take my reliever with me on runs. I'll definitely be getting my hands on a buff though- hadn't thought of that but the cold air in my lungs does feel like it causes problems. Thank you all especially for your kind words and encouragement, sometimes a little confidence lift really helps! My plan for now is to invest in some warmer kit to run in and keep going with my regular but slow rate of progress! Feeling much more positive now!


Hi, my asthma started bothering me 3 weeks ago (I generally run on a path close to water and the autumnal smells made me really wheezy. I decided to join a gym to do the programme over the winter months and now I'm fine, prefer to be enjoying running outside but it's a no brainer - if I can't breath I can't run


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