Russell Winwood was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1966. From a young age he suffered from chronic asthma, which was not always managed properly. As time went by life’s pressures resulted in some poor lifestyle choices, in particular smoking cigarettes.
At the age of 36 Russell suffered what doctors determined to be either a stroke or seizure; scans were inconclusive. This event started a shift in thinking, and Russell decided exercise and a healthy lifestyle should replace smoking and excessive drinking.
He completed a number of triathlons and cycling events, and then decided to focus on reaching his dream of completing an Ironman event, which consists of a 3.8km swim followed by 180km bike ride, finished off with a 42.2km run.
But during his Ironman training he was constantly succumbing to chest infections and was very short of breath. While asthma had been his constant companion, what he was experiencing now was different, and it was very limiting!
Late in 2011 Russell was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with his lung function at 22%. For a while, exercise and Ironman racing were the last thing on his mind.
Russell’s dream didn’t vanish with his diagnosis though, and through targeted exercise programs specific to his respiratory disease Russell has completed three Ironman events since being diagnosed with COPD. With such a low lung function, he has proven that there are ways to achieve a better quality of life through exercise.