How I Overcame Asthma and Ran a Marathon

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When I was little, I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. I was an active kid—I participated in swimming, karate, tennis, gymnastics, softball and cheerleading (not all at the same time!), but my asthma never bothered me. Even as an active kid, running the mile in gym class was the bane of my existence. Though my legs didn’t hurt, I was a wheezy mess.

In college and the years following, my asthma flared up again—this time triggered by allergies. I had a few visits to the ER to be hooked up to a nebulizer. I ran my first Army Ten-Miler four years ago, with my inhaler tied into my shoelaces, sucking back on it at mile 6 and finishing the last 4 miles incredibly dejected.

As I lost weight and started running, I made sure my inhaler was always with me—just in case. But I didn’t need it. Running and breathing was definitely difficult at first, but I pushed through and it got easier. I listened to my breathing and kept it in pace with my steps. I ran 3 half-marathons this year and a full marathon without needing my inhaler once. Most of the time, I don’t run with headphones so that I can listen to my breathing.

It may have been that losing the extra weight took some pressure off my lungs, or cleaning up my diet, or truthfully, I may have just been lucky—I know plenty of people with asthma that aren’t carrying any extra weight.

Have you overcome any chronic illnesses through healthy changes?

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