My mom used to tell me stories about running track in high school. She was a sprinter, and she’d tell me dramatic tales of turning on the jets at the end of the race to win. It sounded amazing so when I got to junior high and track season started I joined the team. We had a little track behind our school and we’d run progressives after school. A brisk walking 100, a jogging 100, a running 100 and an all out sprint 100. It was exhausting and it became apparent to my coach there was something wrong when I tried to do this more than a few times. My lungs would seize up, I’d start wheezing and even as I tried to push through it I’d start to get dizzy, the oxygen not making its way to my brain.
My mom took me to the doctor who told me I had exercise induced asthma, which sounds 100% made up, but they gave me an albuterol inhaler and a little bottle of pills I was supposed to take before I ran. The inhaler tasted awful and the pills made me jittery and anxious and I wasn’t totally convinced they helped. After a few seasons of track I gave up on running and switched to swimming which was supposed to help my lung capacity.
I liked swimming better because I could regulate my breathing and no one could hear me huffing and puffing and wheezing. But I missed running fast. These days I still have an inhaler and I take a daily pill to try and prevent my asthma from getting triggered by allergies. Mostly I don’t let myself get to the point where the inhaler is necessary and that’s a problem. It means I hold myself back because I’m scared of having an asthma attack.
In a few weeks Derek and I are participating in something called the Transplant Games of America, an event which celebrates transplant recipients and donors and showcases the talents and athletic ability of people whose lives were saved through transplantation. Last time we went I tried to run a 100m race and tore the muscles in my quads about 2 seconds after the race started. I hobbled to the finish and it took 3 weeks for my legs to feel normal again. My brain remembered how I used to sprint, my body had zero recollection. I was a mess.
This year I’m taking a different approach: I’m going to try and teach myself to run again. This will involve using my inhaler and regulating my breathing like I do when I swim, to see if I can run a 100m and a 200m without hurting myself. Yesterday I went to the track and did a very slow and modified version of progressives. Run for one minute, walk for two minutes, repeat 10 times. It was hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. The last few months I’ve been trying a lot of new things to try and train myself to embrace failure, fail, and then try again. I’m not a patient person and the idea of sticking to an 8-week training plan in an effort to train myself to be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping is daunting and boring to me, but the thought of not doing it is even worse.