/ Running with asthma

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Irk the Purist - on 02 Jun 2014
Some of you may remember this thread, probably none of you, but here’s a link to remind you. It’s closed or I’d reply to it.

The premise is, I’ve been trying to get sub 40 minute 10k pace for ages. I’ve got an 85:50 half marathon done about 4 years ago, with a last 10k split of 40:11 but despite starting specific training I’d only got this down to 40:04, on a flat course with the wind behind me. My theory was I had a speed limit that I couldn’t go beyond. With some good advice on the thread I made some progress and felt that I just needed to get a good day and eventually I’d scrape under. The frustration was that despite all the work I was putting in, I’d only got it down about 10 seconds.

Well, I’ve had a cough all year. Went to the doctors, got referred to a spirograph and have been diagnosed as asthmatic, which is a shock. Only 72% of my lung capacity was being expelled within a second, hence the speed limit I think. My ‘lung age’ was 56, nearly twice my age. I’ve been taking the inhalers for a month now, did a hilly 10k in 40:29 two weeks ago, slower than last year by 11 seconds and just about gave up. Then yesterday I did 38:57, 67 seconds faster than ever before. I’ve done nothing different, in fact I’ve done less. I only went because I entered before I found I was asthmatic. And I forgot my watch so I had no idea of my time until I got to the end so no way of pacing myself. By all accounts, I am very pleased.

So the question is, are inhalers on the WADA list for prohibited drugs? Am I a drugs cheat or is it just helping me reach my natural potential? I want to go faster, and obviously I have to take the meds, but also I really want that time to count. I want to know in my head it was my hard work that got me that time, not the drugs.

Also, any general advice on managing asthma and running? I have no intention of stopping, even if I go back to the endurance stuff.


kathrync - on 02 Jun 2014
In reply to Irk the Purist:

It depends which drugs you are on, but of the common contenders, beclometasone dipropionate (brown inhaler) is not on the list and salbutamol is only prohibited if you're taking more than 1600 micrograms over 24 hours. A standard adult dose is 200 micrograms per actuation for an adult, so you shouldn't be hitting that if your asthma is under reasonably control. Salmeterol has a similar limit that allows for normal clinical use iirc.

As far as asthma and running goes, take your preventative regularly and don't be tempted to stop because you feel better. Carry your reliever with you and take it as soon as you need it, don't wait until you feel bad. If you regularly get tight-chested while running, it is fine to have a puff of your reliever before you start as well. No reason to give up
lost1977 - on 02 Jun 2014
In reply to Irk the Purist:

even if you did have to use meds which are on the wada banned list and your in a situation where you are tested, simply get a TUE from your GP prior to the event
Uluru on 02 Jun 2014
In reply to Irk the Purist:

Hi Irk, on the managing side, I normally take my 'blue' inhaler about 15 minutes before running, except when doing long slow runs when I don't normally need it at all. But my asthma is exercise induced, and fast runs make it a lot worse.
Also find out if you have any underlying allergies which could be making your asthma worse. There is a really good book called Overcoming Asthma by Dr Sarah Brewer which lists common allergies which can make asthma worse and how to find out whether you could have them. I have found that I am very slightly lactose intolerant and cutting out dairy has made my asthma more controllable.

Lost 1977 is correct you just need a note from your doctor stating what you are using to control your asthma.
Irk the Purist - on 02 Jun 2014
Thanks everyone. Very useful. I'm not so worried about being tested, sub 40 is great, but I'm not worrying any UK Athletics selectors just yet. Or in fact the top 10% of the field. I just want to know I'm not cheating, because you know, you're only cheating yourself. This is especially true when we are only running against ourselves, not records or rivals. I think if WADA allow it, then it can't improve performance, so I'm just levelling the playing field with everyone else. So I'll take that.

Interesting about allergies. I live in a village with some air quality problems so maybe it's that. Or the doc suggested a couple of heavy colds and tiredness may have triggered it. But I've got a bit of a suspicion I've always had it. Heavy chest, coughing after exercise, especially in cold weather...

Anyone else got any experience? I'm thinking it's a good thing, if I can run sub 40 with the lungs of someone nearly 60, give it 30 years and I'll be challening in my age group!

Martin not maisie on 02 Jun 2014
In reply to Irk the Purist:

It sounds like you're a pretty ethical person, so good on you

Using an inhaler won't really boost performance, just cut down the degree of disadvantage you face in having asthma. Salbutamol is a bronchodilator, which just allows your airways to relax: it doesn't actively widen them beyond the point of relaxation. As somebody pointed out upthread (excellent post, BTW), there is a limit to the amount you can take before hitting prohibitions: as salbutamol has effects on the autonomic nervous system, it can alter cardiovascular parameters. One form, I think it's the 'R' version, is sometimes mooted as a diet drug (cue ridiculous Hollywood twigs mainlining blue inhalers a few years ago).

The steroid inhaler (brown one) is based on corticosteroid rather than anabolic, and has a local topical effect to reduce hypersensitivity and inflammation. At recommended usage, the amount actually entering the bloodstream is negligible, never mind performance enhancing.

I've always used a blue inhaler for sport, and at times of dustiness (renovated the house last year), red wine drinking and high pollen counts. I certainly find that antihistamines have a beneficial effect on my need for the inhaler.

Oh, and I can cover 10k in about four hours. With meal stops. 40 minutes sounds like mostly running, which is crazy stuff.

Uluru on 02 Jun 2014
In reply to Irk the Purist:

Ha ha good aim. The current over 60's 10k world record was recently set at Bristol 10K by the Martin Rees at 33:47!
Thickhead - on 02 Jun 2014
In reply to Irk the Purist:

No, you're ok with inhaled corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids taken topically (creams/ointments etc) are also ok as are eye drops, ear drops, inhalers and joint injections.

Interestingly I was chatting to a runner recently who is a drug rep and markets Seretide (a well known preventive inhaler for Asthma). He was telling me about how many Olympic swimmers are diagnosed with "Asthma."

Well done on your time.

Oh, just take your inhalers regularly and enjoy yourself. A lot of top runners genuinely do have Asthma (Paula Radcliffe I think?)
Thickhead - on 02 Jun 2014
In reply to Uluru:

Crazy stuff.

I was running with a guy last year who has just gone within a minute of the ">58yr old" world record for the marathon - he ran about 2:37. He only started running >40 and has hopes to break the world record for >60yr olds in a couple of years.

He must be about the best in the world for his age group currently.
Uluru on 03 Jun 2014
In reply to Thickhead:

Wow that is so quick! Sounds a bit like Martin. He only started running later in life as well. He won his stage on the Welsh Castles Relay last year too. Running from Brecon to Storey Arms against a lot of younger guys.

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