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Up Topic Training / Marathons / Could it be Asthma? Or am I just a wimp
- - By quigley [us] Date 2007-07-24 11:56 AM
I ran a hard, hilly 4 mile run last night where I was pushing the pace and charging up the hills, and I developed an awful wheeze about halfway through. I know I was working hard, but I have had this before where I was not running quite as hard. Specifically, I wheezed  my way through most of a half-marathon last week.

I would think that I just need to train harder to develop the lung capacity, because I never wheeze or have trouble breathing on an easy run or when biking or swimming, only when running hard. However, I'm not just breathing hard, there's a distinct wheezing sound like I"m gasping for air on the inhale, then on the exhale there's a whistling sound in there too. It's awful to hear and feels awful. I feel like my throat and chest and kind of tightened, but it doesn't freak me out since I always know I will get my breath back when I stop.

Hope this post makes sense, basically I am wondering if there's any chance my wheezing is a medical issue or if I just need to train more. Does anyone else hit this breathing "wall"? And if it isn't medical, what kind of training should I focus on?

It would be cool to find out that with some treatment I would be a much faster runner. :laugh: But I'm not couting on it, and I don't want to go on medication or rely on an inhaler.

Thanks in advance!! :)

(disclaimer: Obviously people with asthma are not wimps, in case the title could possibly be taken that way!)
Parent - By Ic Date 2007-07-24 12:00 PM
I'd say it's too soon yet to actually diagnose it as asthma, it may just be bronchitis or you might be have an allergic reaction to pollen or something in the air (which incidentally is what triggers my asthma in the fall, ragweed pollen). I wouldn't freak out about it, cause plenty of people with asthma run marathons, a friend of mine has acute asthma, he's 43 and just ran a 2:44 in his last thon. It may very well be the beginnings of allergy induced asthma, I never had it until I hit my mid 30s, but if so, there's plenty of fairly innocuous medicine out there than can take care of it. But first, let's wait and see how this evolves.

Good luck.
Parent - - By PuddleThumper Date 2007-07-24 12:22 PM
You sound like me about six months ago.  Anytime I'd be pushing hard uphill or in a race situation I'd start to wheeze.  I thought that's just what you sound like when you are working hard.  A running coach heard me doing this and suggested I have it checked out.  I was :shocker!: about it, but I went to the doctor.  She turned out to be a runner.  :grin:  She asked about my history and listened to my perfectly clear lungs and suggested that some people just tend to be prone towards more "lung stuff."  I'm sure that's the technical term.  :roll:  And she was right, I will often develop bronchitis when sick and have since I was a kid.  She thought it didn't sound like athsma, but just something as simple as bronchiospasms (sp?) brought on by cold weather, smog, allergens etc. etc.  Take your pick.  Even high humidity can bother me. 

She proscribed an albuterol inhaler to use just before tempo or long runs or races.  If it worked, great and if it did not then come back.  The first time I went charging up a hill and could take a full breath was amazing. :cool: And not to have my chest hurt after a long run was really, really nice.  :happy: No, it didn't make me super fast! :laugh:  I use it as needed before runs and have no problems. 
Parent - By Ic Date 2007-07-24 12:52 PM
Yup, I too take 2 puffs out of a albuterol inhaler before a long run... (same bronchial/allergic reaction, though my doc led me to believe that's basically the first early stage of asthma, which may or may not evolve into something more down the line) unfortunately it doesn't seem to have much of an affect on me unless I'm having severe symptoms, but still, it gives me some peace of mind.
Parent - By alisonvet Date 2007-07-24 1:02 PM
Albuterol:hug: I couldn't run without it.
Parent - - By alisonvet Date 2007-07-24 1:01 PM
I have asthma, and have had it my entire life. Exercise worsens it. When my lungs gets tight (and it's harder to exhale than inhale), it takes a while for everything to relax. Stopping the run, while helpful since it decreases rate and depth of respiration, does not alleviate the wheezing. Of course, this only happens when I forget to take my albuterol before the run, or I want to ensure I run slowly so don't take it.

What you have may be asthma or not.  It does sound like your airways are irritated/inflammed, for whatever reason, so the best thing to do would be have it checked out by a doctor. It could be a minor infection, it could be allergies, it could be asthma. Tincture of time could fix it, or you made need some meds.

Before assuming you just need to train more, I would get checked out by a doctor.
Parent - By Ic Date 2007-07-24 1:08 PM
weird, for me inhaling is more difficult than exhaling, I feel the pressure on my chest when I try to draw a breath. Worse part of all is that it's made me almost a complete mouth breather when I exercise, so I'm always panting during a run, though it looks, or sounds, much worse that it is, because at this point it's how I keep a rhythym with my gait, so often everyone else around me is either alarmed or annoyed, but I'm just fine. The only real major drawback is that I've always got wicked dry mouth when I run, so often I will have a small flask of water with me, less about hydrating, more about keeping my mouth/throat wet. : pbbt:
Parent - By Scott_runs [us] Date 2007-07-24 1:51 PM
I was recently (last week, for that matter), given a computerized test showing that, when it comes to exhaling, I am the pits. :meh:

So I have joined the inhaler crowd, though I believe this particular inhaler is designed to attempt to clear minor blockages in my lungs rather than provide relief of acute symptoms. Two squirts in the AM, two in the PM -- not been long enough to gauge results (this is day 4).

But I am not sure there is such a thing as a lung wall, to the severity you describe, assuming no outside influences (allergies, etc.). In other words, I don't know that you could train it out, the way you'd strengthen legs, for example. Though I am not a doctor.
Parent - By quigley [us] Date 2007-07-24 2:26 PM
Thanks so much for the feedback everyone! I am going to make an appointment with the doctor.

I forgot to mention that while I don't have trouble breathing besides during hard running, I do occasionally (a couple times a month) get that feeling that I can't get a deep breath. Like I'm constantly trying to yawn and get a full breath into my lungs. Maybe this is another sign of whatever is going on? Now that I said that, I've been having that this week too! Hmmm.
Up Topic Training / Marathons / Could it be Asthma? Or am I just a wimp

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