Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Keeping it pink and sweet: running with asthma and diabetes

I've neglected this little bit of blog space over the last few days. I am sorry. I do intend to share here every day but it has been busy juggling the training with end of school holiday fun and new term preparations together with catching up with my business after the hug dent everything that has happened has made on it. I'll come back to that tomorrow. Today was a petty tough run though because I just couldn't get my body and pace in sync with my breathing and heart rate.

Just to add even more of a challenge to all of this, I run with asthma and diabetes. Many family, friend and even doctor would just say it can't be done and I shouldn't try but did you know Paula Radcliffe is a fellow asthmatic? She's not just an inhaler in the bottom drawer asthmatic either.  You can hear it in her voice sometimes. I am always told I talk to fast and I noticed during her recent Rio commentaries that she did the same. Trying to get everything she wanted to to say out in the limited breath then taking s big breath in mid sentence. It can be hard to juggle breathing with other things sometimes, especially running! I would love to sit down with a doctor who is open to people like me taking on such challenges and talk about what I have learned about my own condition from it.

Apart from the two yellow bottles which I have stopped using recently, this is my days medication. The little vials are nebulisers that go into the contraption underneath, plugged into an air compressor, and inhaled as mist over about 15 minutes each. There is ventolin and atrove to medicine as well as hypertonic saline which is strong salt solution to break up the mucous and help me to cough it up. Lovely! Not a morning routine you'd let many people witness. The green thing in the bottom picture is an acapella that sets resistance as you breathe out and gently vibrates the lungs to further help tease the stubborn gunk out. All of this is necessary for me to function, let alone run, and I take 5 insulin injections a day. This is also tricky to balance. To get enough insulin so you can use your blood sugars while running and also enough sugar in to avoid a hypo. This is something else I'd love advice on.

On Saturday I was fine running but had my recovery drink but nothing to eat after before dashing out to see a friend in a music festival. I was close to the point of passing out with a hypo by the time we got there and have never been more grateful for sugary plantain and sustaining rice and peas festival food. That was the first time the hypo came delayed after exercise and taught me an important lesson in refuelling. While running I have to keep sugar snacking but if I haven't taken enough insulin that won't be much use anyway. Training for me is a lot more than just building up and conditioning muscles and cardio fitness.

This morning it was my asthma that was tricky. I was Ok, it wasn't an attack but I couldn't get my breathing rhythmic and comfortable. Something I noticed when I ran before was that my asthma responds most to change. The same goes for change in weather, atmospheric pressure, new infections and viruses etc... With running, the first few miles are the hardest by far because my body has not yet got into a new status quo so to speak. I used to find that by about mile eight I would have a nice constant pace and rhythms and my asthma would settle. If I had to stop to cross a road or because of the fitness in my legs, it would take time to get it back into the balance again. As long as I could keep my body in that balance it would be a lot easier for me. I often felt for all those people who never kept going log enough to find this for themselves as it really is a lot more uncomfortable and suffocating until you hit this sweet spot, or at least it is for me. It makes me a lot more suited to distance and endurance running than shorter distance races which goes against what most people would think for an asthmatic. In one of the marathons I ran all those years ago it was stopping that made me get an asthma attack. I had a pb great race but almost collapsed getting my bags back and needed a quick visit to St Johns where I had to argue against being carted off the the hospital. This knocked my confidence and I never really got back into running again. You see, I would try but not for long enough to hit that equilibrium and then give up. I haven't hit it yet now but I have seen glimpsed of it and I know in a week or two I will be able to run far enough to find it again and then I can call myself a runner again.

Another interesting thing for me is the adrenaline. I started running now because I needed to find a way to grid of a build up. It is more than that though. Without that adrenaline I can't start running. I just can't. I'll cough and wheeze and it is impossible for me. When I ran before my son was waiting for a transplant, when I did my last marathon and stopped for the recovery, he was well and I couldn't start again. I really tried but I couldn't even do a mile! Asthma used to be treated with adrenaline and I really think mine responds well to it. I have to use a window of stress and adrenaline overload to get started and then, if I can reach that equilibrium at 8 miles and keep doing it almost daily, I can keep going once that period of acute stress is over. If I stop I may not be able to start again.... Interesting huh! I'd love to know the science at work here...

No comments:

Post a Comment