smoking and running

I have been running for approximately 5 months now (on average 2 - 3 times a week, between 5 - 10km).

I quit smoking in the last 10 weeks but found that this has had an adverse affect on my running, particularly my breathing. I thought that quiting was meant to improve my breathing, stamina etc. image but it seems to have had the opposite affect. Anyone else experienced something similar? Itt seems biizarre.

Now that I quit smoking, I can barely complete a flat 10km without stopping for breath and the running is not pleasurable or enjoyable anymore.

While smoking 10km running times (42 - 45 minutes). Now that I've quit in the last 10 weeks (times closer to 50 minutes).

I know that the body is adpating to the changes, but why do I feel worse off for it.


  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Most likely you've replaced smoking with eating, lots do.

    10 weeks!

    You probably weigh a couple of stone more than beforeimage

  • Hoping that's a tongue in cheek comment there Ric image

    I've heard it's common to feel worse before you feel better. Your body takes a while to detox from all the carcinogens and other crap it's got used to. Smoking's an addiction remember.

    Hang it there, it will get better.

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    It gets worse before it gets better. When I finally packed up smoking I was wheezy and coughing more than usual for several months afterwards. I figure that the tubes and lungs were adjusting to not having hot smoke poured all over them many times a day.

    Nearly two years on and this year my 10K time is consistently 2-3 minutes faster than last year and half-marathons are consistently 5+ minutes faster. There could be other factors but I'm pretty sure not smoking is in there somewhere. And in general I feel much more lively.

    That's my experience. Your mileage may vary of course. But stick with it, if only for the benefit it has on your wallet.

  • I quit smoking 3 years ago - and I felt the exact same as you re: the breathing. Don't worry, Screamapillar is right... you will feel worse before you feel better. I know it's gross to think of it but I splattered half the volume of my lungs all over the place and could hardly run because , well, basically I obviously had lungs full of filth that needed to clear out.

    I am well past that now. i wish I could give you an idea of how long it lasts but everyone is different. Important things to remember are:

    You have done a great thing by stopping smoking

    The breathing diffiiculty will stop at some point

    When it does you will really feel much better and wonder why you ever put yourself through the act of smoking in the first place.

    Hang on in there image


    Oh and PS - Nicotine itself is a stimulant and your body needs to get used to running without that extra bit of help!

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Without being too scientific on this one, inhaling smoke and tar directy into your lungs cannot at any level be helpful to breathing. No doubt as above, once the decks are cleared you will improve, however IMO your probably better off generally as a non smoking 50 min 10k runner than a smoking 45 min 10k runner.

  • Thanks for the feedback guys.

    @ RicF - I haven't replaced smoking with eating, nor have I put on more weight.

    @ Screamapillar, Muttley, DoubleOhDave. Thanks for the re-assurance guys that it will get better eventually. Just need to rid the body of all the carcinogens and adapt to 'a new way of breathing. I guess the body needs to re-adapt after smoking for approx. 20 years image. Hopefully I'm posting in a few weeks/months about the improvements.


  • Good man "Run DMC" (I know I know - I just couldn't resist that)

    i was on the dreaded things for 28 years and believe me I realise now how stupid I was.. you will get better and better - just accept that you have to be humble for now and muddle on for a bit first

  • @ DoubleOhDave. Run DMC....pmsl image. Anyways thanks for the encouragement. You're right - need to be humble for now. Running times will get better going forward


    Also, could weather be a factor here? We've had a lot of warmer weather which may naturally slow your times down as perceived exertion goes up...
    Just a thought...

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    It was cold weather that affected my breathing most. In the winter after I quit smoking there were times when I was doing a pretty good impersonation of a Victorian TB ward. Running along sedately and hacking away like I was going to deposit half a lung on the pavement.

    But it does get better and easier once your body has accustomed itself.

  • Your airways are lined with little hairs that sweep rhythmically when you breathe in irritants such as pollution, dust etc and make you cough. They keep the airways clear. Smoking kills off the the hairs. Temporarily.  That's why smokers tend to cough a lot in the mornings as the hairs are coming back to life and that's why the first cig of the day tends to suppress this cough as it kills them off again. One theory is that smokng triggers cancer partly because it prevents the body cleaning itself..

    Developing a bad cough and chest after quitting is therefore very common and  provides evidence of the harm you were doing

  • If I start smoking will my 10k time come down?? imageimage

    On a more serious note I remember seeing a picture of Wiggins getting papped while smoking, I wonder how many (athletic) sports stars are partial to a smoke?

  • I'm two weeks into quitting....glad I found this thread. I've tried to stop five times in the last 6 years (been smoking for 17 years and i'm 32, more than half my life, not good) and failed. I feel a whole lot different mentally this time around. I've had a night out on the pop and haven't succumbed, which made me feel a little bit proud of myself, and i'm dealing with the anxiousness quite succesfully. I am using NRT (E-cig) but I figure at least i'm not taking all the chemical shit you find in fags into my body.

    I concur with Muttley, interestingly, that cold weather in the past was what really tightened up my trachea and caused difficulty when running.

    I have been coughing up an awful lot of gunk which I expected from my previous experiences. However, I do not have a hacking cough when I wake up, I do not wheeze when at rest (i'm a little asthmatic), and mentally I feel great!

    Good luck Running Man...stick at it! Here's to not smelling bad!

  • I quit in December, used patches for a week then went cold turkey, you get over it so much easier and quicker. Do not use subsitutes, just stop. No e-cigs, no patches etc. You will find the first week or so of cravings to be very bad, but they only last a few minutes and then they pass. You will cough up gunk and have brown spit, maybe bleeding gums for 2-3 months, but getting through them is such an investment.

    when you think you want a smoke....Just think (a) how much better everything tastes, (b) how much money you are saving (c) that you don't have to go and stand outside for 10 minutes on a freezing cold day (d) that when you run you will be a lot less snotty

    good luck

  • I agree with Robert.

    I've been off fags for over 18 months now and the onl reason I stopped was because Iw anted to. I just decided I'd had enough. I went totally cold turkey.

    If the will is there, the way will be en route!

    I also struggled with breathing after I quit and took a good 6 weeks before my airways felt clear again (Not that they were clear when I was smoking, but it felt like they were)

    Keep fighting the good fight because your times they will a-tumble! Mine have image


  • Hi guys.

    Quick update - just past the 100+ days (3 months & a bit)  without a fag. The breathing has been improving staedily over the past 3 - 4 weeks, so i'm finally reaping the benefits from a running point of view image. Thanks for all the advice & support - I guess we all repair & heal at different timescales!

    To mark the 100+ days quit free, I just completed a 10km X train over the weekend. Hills were quite brutal but enjoyed the race none the less.

    Will keep posting on improved run times etc. in the future.

  • Yay! Don't look back!

  • congratulations Runner man. a terrific effort.

  • Well done.

  • well done mate

  • My personal best time for a marathon is 3.26 and I am a smoker

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