Guest Post – The Glorious Pursuit of Life’s Running Story

Hi everyone! I’m Amanda K the blogger behind The Glorious Pursuit of Life.


I’m so excited to be doing my very first guest post for Leslie while she is away on her fabulous vacation. It snowed for the first time here in Michigan last night, so I could use a getaway myself, but sadly there are no plans for that in my near future. Boyfriend and I skipped Christmas presents last year and took each other to Mexico in the dreariest part of February, so this year we’re going the more traditional gift giving route, which has already led to more than a few “decide what the heck you want already so I can go shopping” tiffs. Oh, Christmas – It really is the happiest time of year…

I’ve been reading And Her Little Dog Too for nearly a year now and reading Leslie’s journey to her first marathon in Chicago this fall was incredibly inspirational for me.

You see, my story is a common one. Healthy, active, high school athlete goes to college – parties too much, works too hard and has too much fun to worry about her health. You know the rest. After graduating I took a grueling job as a political fundraiser and basically maintained my college lifestyle for another year – with only minor improvements.

It wasn’t until this past spring, over a year since graduation, that I realized if I wanted to look, feel and be a better person, it was up to me to do something about it.

I joined a gym and got back into the groove of working out. I started to look and feel better. And that’s when it happened.

I decided I should become a runner.

Boyfriend was a runner. All the healthy people I knew were runners. All the girls at the gym on the treadmill looked great. Yep, running was for me.

Unfortunately this was July 2010, and I hadn’t run more than a mile since the spring of 2004. I took off for my “first” run on a hot, sticky morning in late July and after 6 – yes 6 minutes I was done. I couldn’t breathe, my legs were burning, I felt generally miserable. It was embarrassing and discouraging.

The next day I did the same thing, with the same result. I tried twice more before I really thought about giving up. But, I was too determined. I was also confused. I could easily do 60 minutes on an elliptical on high resistance. I regularly went for 12-15 mile bike rides. I was no stranger to exercise at this point. Why couldn’t I run? Something wasn’t right.

I hit the books, er… the computer. I knew of a few healthy living blogs and I knew a lot of the women who wrote them were runners. After some exploration and research I realized that 1. I was trying too hard. Few people can just get up and become runners. I discovered the Couch to 5K program and vowed to start it as soon as I took care of problem 2. I had diagnosed myself with exercise induced asthma.

A doctors visit two weeks later confirmed that with the recent development of seasonal allergies, I was now an asthmatic and the proud owner of a rescue inhaler.

After a few weeks of treatment for my allergies and adjustment to my inhaler I was ready to start running. Due to the intensity of allergy season in Michigan, my doctor advised me to do my early running indoors. I completed my first three mile run indoor treadmill run in October clocking in at an incredibly slow 39 minutes, but I felt great! Actually, I’ll be honest; it was one of the proudest moments of my life!

I could breathe and my heart didn’t feel as if it were about to explode out of my chest. I know, my success standards are pretty low.

I continued running indoors and in mid-November, at the urging of a friend I signed up for my first 5K! It was a Reindeer Run on December 11 to benefit Toys for Tots. I thought it was a great idea, my new job, however, had other plans.

Just around the time I planned to start training with outdoor runs I was slammed with an insane project at work that took up every ounce of energy. If you look back over the past few weeks at my own blog, you’ll see the story… or more appropriately lack of story because I only had time to work, shower and eat. Luckily the project wrapped up just in time on December 4. I knew it may be a challenge to get back into shape after nearly three weeks off, but I wanted so badly to run this race.

My body had other ideas though. I ran my best 3 miles ever on Monday, December 5 – 34 minutes, a time I considered very respectable. Pretty remarkable, actually, considering just 4 months earlier I could barely run 5 blocks.

Now it was time to try it outdoors. The 5K would be outdoors, and I really hadn’t run outside since I started this adventure. On Tuesday night I was planning on doing a quick 1.5 miles outside.

About 6 minutes into my run I felt the familiar tightening in my chest, only this time it was worse than ever. I struggled to walk home where I grabbed my inhaler and a hot cup of tea and collapsed on the couch for two hours before I had enough energy to even take my shoes off. 

A somewhat frantic call to my doctor and an Google search revealed my problem. Apparently the cold winter air is worse for some people with asthma than it is for others, and I was definitely in the worse than group. I had never had to use my inhaler with such regularity until that night. I tried to run again Thursday when it was a little warmer, but it seems that running a 5K in December is just not something my body will allow.

I am terribly disappointed, but at the same time I’m also so motivated by the progress I have made. I am also proud of myself for actually listening to my body. I have a bad habit of pushing to hard for things. Sometimes in life this can be a good thing, when your lungs are involved, its not.

There is still a part of me that wants to get out there again and adapt to running in the cold, but I know its not worth the potential damage to my body and stress it puts on me. For now I have the treadmill and a long winter ahead of me to work on my speed and distance. I’m even starting to think about a half marathon.

Whatever happens with those plans, I am definitely looking forward to running some races this spring, once its above 45 degrees. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

What is your running story? Do you or anyone you know suffer when running in the cold?

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  • Reply Amber Starr December 16, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I know exactly how you feel about being asthmatic and how the cold affects it so much more. It can be really frustrating this time of year with so many great runs and activities going on. I find that if I take a few puffs beforehand it does help, but I really can't push myself as hard as I'd like because it's just not worth it. Just focus on the great activities you can do inside now and once chilly Michigan warms up, kick some butt outside!

    Just out of curiosity, is that tubing photo on the Chippewa River?

  • Reply Tricia December 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    thanks for sharing, havent had any problems so far, but it hasnt been cold yet either…something to look out for

  • Reply Amanda K December 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Amber, not it was actually the Platt River near Traverse City. It was absolutely gorgeous and we couldn't have had a more perfect weekend.

  • Reply Patty O December 27, 2010 at 1:04 am

    I too share your story of walking in the cold air. Cold air is also not good for cardiac patients. Even walking can make me gasp and feel tight. You have to listen to your body and do what's best for you!

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