My run on Saturday had gone well. As expected, my heart rate was a little elevated but my oxygen levels were good. I met my coach before the start of the race and we decided that I’d run at a slower pace so I didn’t over tax my body. This plan worked well as I was able to keep my heart down and my oxygen levels at a safe range. My breathing technique was working and I was able to run 95% of the race.
I initially had planned to complete the race in under 2hrs 45 minutes, but the slower pace meant I finished in just over three hours. All in all it was an excellent training run for New York.
Since early on in my diagnosis, I’ve always thought the best way to combat COPD was through exercise and building my exercise capacity. There is no doubt this has worked for me and what happened in the lead up to this half marathon proved once again that a fit and healthy body is more able to cope with the illness.
I have no doubt that had I not been in such good shape that the flare-up that hit me on the Monday would have ended any hope of me competing by Sunday. Although my lung function is still under 30% and structurally my lungs haven’t changed, what has changed is my body’s ability to become more efficient in its use of oxygen through the breathing techniques I use when exercising.
These two ingredients are critical for me to be able to train the way I do and the more I exercise, the more efficient my body has become. These same ingredients can be used by anyone with COPD, no matter what their fitness level is or what their goals are.
After the race I was my legs were quite sore but this was expected as I hadn’t been able to do enough running in the week before, so lots of extra stretching helped to loosen up the muscles. Breathing-wise I felt pretty good, but I know that endurance races can wreak havoc with my immune system, so allowing time for recovery over the next 3-4 days is very important.
Recovering from exacerbations can take time and a lot depends on how your health and fitness levels are prior to the onset of the exacerbations. Whether you have run a marathon or not, the key is rest and giving your body’s immune system every chance to reboot itself. Stick to your medications and make sure you’re well hydrated, eat healthy, nutritious meals to aid in your recovery.
Looking after your body in a way that gives you the best chance to live as full a life as possible is really not that difficult. What you have to realize is that if you don’t treat your body with the respect it deserves, you’ll never reach your full potential.
Too often we expect that our body will just cope and we will eventually feel better, but our bodies are no different to a car engine – they need to be kept in good condition to operate at their best.