Cold air/asthma - Winter running tips

I am fit and active
I ride almost every day (30-45mins)
I run as often as poss (5-10k distances off road)
I go to the gym once a week (cross trainer and weights)
I completed my first half marathon Oct 2011 (2hrs 29mins)

but.....my asthma means on cold days like yesterday I simply can't breath image

The cold air seems to hit my lungs and shrink them to the size of a newt's! image

So yesterday I did Swindon 10k, fit and ready to do it, but ran out of the start flags and *BOOM* instant stitch, pain, no capacity to take a deep breath. Stitch was so painful that I started to hunch over giving me bad shoulder pain. I tried to push on thinking 'oh well the first 3miles is usually a bit of a killer anyway, I'll get into my stride in a bit' that never happened image I had to stop for 4 short walk breaks to get my breath, and I had absolutely no finish left in me at the end (usually a rally strong fast finisher)

It was v cold day, and damp misty weather which I know also aggravates my asthma.

Thing is I actually ran a PB! 59.21 so I should be pleased but it just felt so awful, and I get really down about having such a crappy lung capacity now (never had asthma as a kid, developed in the last 4 years)

I don't want to give up my running, but then I also don't want to battle with my body over 10k when a few months back in the warmer weather I was just cruising along, breathing nice and effectively

So does anyone else struggle in the cold weather?...What can I do to help my breathing? (other than take my asthma meds as directed and have regular check ups)Do non asthma peeps suffer with the cold air too?...

Help and advice please as I really want to be able to continue to run this winter, and I HATE treadmills so going indoors is not an option.

P.S. If you are looking for a nice road 10k then I can recommend the swindon one, well run event and well signed course

Comments

  • Hi Chlobo,

     I have the same problem. At the moment, I run in a technical T with a light gillet over the top and if I keep the gillet zipped right up to the top, it seems to keep my chest warm enough and I don't get the asthma problem. The other thing you could try, if you can tolerate it, is to run with a light scarf or buff over your mouth, as it stops the air being so cold when you breathe it in.

    Good luck image

  • ChloboChlobo ✭✭✭
    Ah I didn't think about keeping my actual chest area warm, I only ran in a tshirt yesterday and afterwards my chest felt heavy and bruised? sort of?...

    I will see if I can find a gilet to wear, do you have a link to the type you wear?...

    argh I have tried breathing through a buff, I hate it....but maybe I might just have to get used to it image
  • Do you breathe through your mouth, rather than your nose? Apparently, it can be better for cold air asthma as your mouth will warm the air you're breathing in more than your nose will.

    Also, there's no harm in using your inhaler a lot before you set off. The basic recommendation is to use it twice, but apparently, a nebuliser delivers 140 doses of the same drug over a minute, so you can increase your inhaler dose quite a bit before you're at risk of doing any harm. I always get horribly asthmatic when I race, so at my last race I used my inhaler a lot (around ten puffs I think) in the half hour before the race started and had no asthma symptoms at all.
  • I think I got the gillet from JJB a couple of years ago. It's just a lightweight flourescent one. I've found keeping my chest warm makes all the difference.
  • ChloboChlobo ✭✭✭
    @allnew I can only breath through my mouth otherwise I can't get enough air in. 10 puffs!!! wowzer I thought 2 was a lot!!! Did you just do them over the half hour leading up to the start?...or nearer the actual start time?... I think I need to crank up my puffer usage (blue puffer yeah?...) will try warm chest and lots of puffer action approach and see how that goes

    Thanks for the advice peeps
  • Have you got a preventer inhaler as well as a blue one? I need an extra whack of the preventer in winter. Also I try to not run into the wind when I've just started out. As already said, you need to try and breathe a bit more through your nose.
  • ChloboChlobo ✭✭✭
    I take the brown one 2 puffs every morning before i brush my teeth, maybe I should up that to 3?...

    I just can't get enough air through my nose, had surgery on it, maybe I should buy some of those nasal strips that rugby guys wear to open the nostrils....

    my god I'm gonna look weird running in a gilet with a buff over half my head and a plaster across my nose, changing direction every time the wind switches ahahahahaha image
  • I sometimes try breathing through a buff (not asthmatic but cold air does take my breath away) but while it works the downside is your breath makes the material damp... then you have to be careful not to get chaffed skin round your mouth.
  • I don't know whether I 'should' or not but in winter, I take my preventer (mine's orange) and then Salbutamol before I go out for a run.
  • I wouldn't up the brown inhaler without speaking to your doctor first. I was talking about the blue one.
  • The object of asthma treatment is for the 'patient' to be able to carry out whatever activities they wish. If that is not happening, it is worth visiting your asthma nurse and having a chat about your management.

    BTW, a single nebuliser is 40 times a single puff of ventolin, not 140!

  • I should add that if I take my preventer before a run, I'll I try to avoid taking the preventer again in the evening so it all balances out.

  • You can get one of those all purpose hat/scarf/nack warmer type things and use them to cover your mouth and nose out and about, like a ninja or a terrorist if you will. I've started doing this as i have cold weather asthma, the air under the material is heated before it reaches the lungs thus stopping the tightening of airways and athsma attack cascade. This is especially important on cold windt cycle rides too.
  • Ooops, typo sorry.
  • I've had asthma since childhood and always take a couple of puffs on my ventolin inhaler before heading out for a run. Probably more out of habit than necessity.

    For cold weather runs drinking a cup of warm water or tea just before I run seems to work for me. I don't think about whether I'm breathing through my mouth or nose during a run but the drink has a warming effect on my throat lining.

  • apparently having a menthol logenze before you run opens up the airways lower down? I do find that dry cold air really sets me off, but I take my brown one every morning, and have a couple of puffs of blue before I run... good luck x
  • stanmorek wrote (see)

    I've had asthma since childhood and always take a couple of puffs on my ventolin inhaler before heading out for a run. Probably more out of habit than necessity.

    For cold weather runs drinking a cup of warm water or tea just before I run seems to work for me. I don't think about whether I'm breathing through my mouth or nose during a run but the drink has a warming effect on my throat lining.

    I guess if you had phlegm in your throat, the warm water would break it up so each to their own. Drinking a warm drink before going out in the cold would make my asthma worse as it'd increase the temp contrast.
  • "Have you got a preventer inhaler as well as a blue one? I need an extra whack of the preventer in winter."

    "I take the brown one 2 puffs every morning before i brush my teeth, maybe I should up that to 3?..."


    Just to confirm the purpose of the two inhalers...

    Brown (Beclazone) = preventative. The effect is gradual and requires you take it as instructed, likely twice in the morning and twice evening, every single day. Personally I don't believe it's necessary to up the dosage in winter, if anything you'd need to do it months before.

    Blue (Ventolin) = reliever. The effect is instant and generally lasts 4 hours although you can get longer lasting types. You should have 2 puffs from this inhaler before exercising as it'll massively help you get more oxygen into your lungs and you'll feel a lot less out of breath.

    I've got asthma too and feel your pain with harsh cold air image I'm a big fan of thermal tops (sexy!); here's mine: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Helly-Hansen-Lifa-Stripe-Crew/dp/B001N2MLWE/ref=tag_stp_s2_edpp_url

    I don't mean to sound insulting but are you sure you're taking the inhaler exactly as intended?

    Borrowed from (http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health_advice/facts/howtousemeter.htm)


    1. Sit up straight or stand up and lift the chin to open the airways.
    2. Remove the cap from the mouthpiece and shake the inhaler vigorously.
    3. If you haven't used the inhaler for a week or more, or it is the first time you have used the inhaler, spray it into the air first to check that it works.
    4. Take a few deep breaths and then breathe out gently. Immediately place the mouthpiece in your mouth and put your teeth around it (not in front of it and do not bite it), and seal your lips around the mouthpiece, holding it between your lips.
    5. Start to breathe in slowly and deeply through the mouthpiece. As you breathe in, simultaneously press down on the inhaler canister to release the medicine. One press releases one puff of medicine.
    6. Continue to breathe in deeply to ensure the medicine gets into your lungs.
    7. Hold your breath for 10 seconds or as long as you comfortably can, before breathing out slowly.
    8. If you need to take another puff, wait for 30 seconds, shake your inhaler again then repeat steps 4 to 7.
    9. Replace the cap on the mouthpiece.

    You could also consider purchasing a Peak Flow Meter. More details here: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/asthmapeakflowmeter.htm
  • HAHA! Don't worry, just down the road in Stroud, there will be someone who looks just like you. I've been looking up winter running with asthma, mine's horrendous and seems to be induced by EVERYTHING. This thread was so useful so thanks for starting it! I haven't run in over a year and I've only just started training again. It now takes me 27 minutes to run 3.2km (I can't understand miles. I've tried.). My PB EVER was a 10k 49 minutes. I feel like a lump.
    I have the red inhaler. I take four of those in the morning and four in the evening. And another four before exercise. It helps, but only if I remember to do every day without fail and the effects aren't noticeable until about 4 weeks of consistent doses.
    Chlobo wrote (see)
    I take the brown one 2 puffs every morning before i brush my teeth, maybe I should up that to 3?... I just can't get enough air through my nose, had surgery on it, maybe I should buy some of those nasal strips that rugby guys wear to open the nostrils.... my god I'm gonna look weird running in a gilet with a buff over half my head and a plaster across my nose, changing direction every time the wind switches ahahahahaha image
  • I have been asthmatic since birth but am the exact opposite of you folk.  I LOVE running in the cold weather and use my brown inhaler twice morning and night and my blue Ventolin (Salbutomol) immediately before exercise.

     I find the cold really opens up my airways but the warm summer heat 'fugs' my chest and I feel as though I'm running through smoke.

     Strange how these things affect people in different ways.

  • I've had asthma all my life but only started running in April so hadn't experienced the effect of cold weather on it until last night. I had no problems throughout the summer and ran a marathon three weeks ago with no issues. I did my first run in the cold last night and found myself short of breath after a couple of miles. It's enormously frustrating- I was looking forward to no-pressure runs where I could knock out 9 or 12 miles if I wanted to without worrying about a training schedule.I've doubled up on the blue (ventolin) inhaler but to little avail. I might try the lozenge idea, or go to the doctors to get another prescription maybe?
  • Have you tried wearing a buff? or similar item of clothing to keep your neck warm - I've found the under armour gaiter to be very useful in the cold weather.

    ----------------------------------

    http://ninjatriathletemonkey.blogspot.com/

  • I agree with the buff...I run with it over my nose and mouth until I've warmed up and then move it down to my neck. The extra blue puffs before I set off also seem to help a little although I might take more as the run continues. Am going to give the lozenge idea a go though.
  • I've got to agree with Liz EE as my asthma is fine in the cold but the warmth gets my chest a bit tighter. I'm quite lucky though as only use a blue 'if and when' but mainly in the hotter months when it's hayfever season.

    I was told by a sports teacher that breathing through the nose helped warms, moistens and cleans the air due to it passing through the hairs in the nose, which is contradictory to information mentioned earlier.

    I suppose what works for you works for you image
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