A Note to My Younger (Asthmatic) Self

If you’ve been reading, you know that I have been sick. I get sick a lot. I have asthma, which, for me, means my lungs are pathetic wimps who take on any and all germs within a 10 mile radius. About one in every three bouts of sickness the germs migrate to my lungs, taking up residence, and necessitating steroids and/or a lengthy rest period to get things back on track. During this period of lung-failure I can’t regulate my breathing well at all. Running becomes nearly impossible and my heart rate gets erratic. I start to see black spots. I simply am not moving enough air to run and think at the same time. This isn’t new. It’s been happening for years, but every time it’s so discouraging.

Today, while on the treadmill, I got to thinking about this lung-failure phenomenon. Being a grown up and even a therapist who preaches acceptance, you’d think I would be ok with it. But every time, I feel the same way I did when I was younger – discouraged, defeated, like a failure. Turns out my younger, asthmatic self is hanging around inside me. So, I wrote the following note to her (yes, while on the treadmill, on the back of an old flyer for a fundraiser having to do with Zumba):


You have asthma. There’s no question about this, so it’s time to accept the uncomfortable realities that come with it. You will struggle to breathe at random times. You will get sick and take weeks to recover. Your lungs will revolt and will make it impossible for you to catch your breath. You’ll have bad races and bad training runs and bad games because your lungs just don’t want to cooperate. This happens. You didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this. You are no less of an athlete because of it. It is not an indicator that you are fat, out of shape, or lazy. Lying about how bad you feel and skipping that workout helps no one. Have patience with yourself and your breathing. It will come around eventually. You are not less of an athlete because you have asthma.

Hang in there,

Older (and wiser) self.

I like to think this note would have helped the younger me. I sure helped the older me – who turned off her Garmin and just ran because she could.

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

5 thoughts on “A Note to My Younger (Asthmatic) Self

  1. I don’t have asthma, but I think we all have those days where no matter how well we did yesterday or last week, today we feel slow, lazy and incompetent. I’m trying to remind myself that my body (and mind, for that matter) is never in exactly the same place two days in a row. The fact that I can run at all means that I’m already leaps and bounds ahead of most people who couldn’t even make it from here to the end of the block. So let’s just get out there and do what we can, when we can.

    Hope you’re feeling better soon!

    • I agree. Some days are “on” and some just aren’t. I think that’s part of what makes running such a mental sport. And you’re right – the fact that we are running at all is something to celebrate.

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