“When I was younger I used to call my asthma an ‘elephant sitting on my chest’ because it would feel like a huge weight on my lungs, preventing me from getting enough air. But I manage it well, and running and cycling regularly have improved my breathing control and lung capacity, so I rarely need to use my reliever inhaler when I’m exercising. I also love the mental boost I get from being active and I feel so much happier and healthier overall!
Growing up with asthma
“I was diagnosed with asthma when I was about seven, and it was a revelation. I suddenly understood why I found it so difficult taking part in outdoor activities like running, and why simple things like walking through a field in the summer made me wheezy.
“At school we did a lot of long-distance running, usually in the winter, and I’d always be at the back of the group, wheezing and struggling to catch my breath. I’d get a tightness in my chest and would have to keep stopping to take my reliever inhaler. It was so frustrating not being able to keep up with my classmates and I hated being slow.
“As soon as I realised I had asthma, and what triggers were setting off my symptoms (mainly cold weather, pollen, colds and flu), I decided to focus on indoor activities such as netball, dance and trampolining.
Rediscovering a love for running
“By the time I was 25 my asthma was much more controlled, and in 2012 a friend recommended I try the Couch to 5k programme – a plan that helps you gradually progress from walking to running. Amazingly I really enjoyed doing it and I was so proud when I crossed the finish line of a local 5k race. I knew I wanted keep up training and set myself bigger goals so I signed up for a 10k race and then a half marathon.
“Since then, I’ve received over 40 medals for running races – including a 24-hour trail race and a duathlon (running and cycling event). I’m always planning my next event: I’m currently training for the London 10 Mile race.
“My biggest achievement is the Brighton Half Marathon which I did in February 2015. It was the first race I ran all the way without stopping. Although I wasn’t particularly fast, I was so proud of how far I’d come from the girl huffing and puffing at the back of the school cross-country class.
“Even though I still find it difficult, I love the escape and the headspace I get while running. It’s also the reason I set up my blog, Miss Wheezy where I write about my progress and share my training tips and achievements.”
Trying lots of new activities
“I love being outside so, alongside running, I walk and hike as much as I can. I originally trained as a geologist at university, so trekking the beautiful landscapes in the UK is so rewarding. I feel a big sense of achievement when I’m standing on top of a mountain admiring the view – knowing I climbed all the way up!
“Recently I’ve also started cycling. It took me a while to feel completely comfortable on a bike, but it’s a lot easier as it doesn’t affect my breathing as much as running – unless I’m going uphill or cycling in cold weather, which makes me wheeze. But I always carry my reliever inhaler just in case.
“Last year I cycled the RideLondon-Surrey 100 to raise money for Asthma UK and I’m so excited to be doing it again this year. Being a part of the Asthma UK team is fantastic and you get so much support in the lead up to the event, and on the day as well. It’s great fundraising for a charity that helps people like me to get their asthma under control so they can get active and enjoy the benefits of exercising.”
Anyone with asthma can get active!
“Lots of people assume that having asthma means you can’t play sports or enjoy exercising, but Paula Radcliffe and Laura Trott haven’t let their asthma stop them from becoming world-class athletes. While none of us are on that level, exercise can be hugely beneficial for people with asthma.
“I’m proud to say my asthma doesn’t stop me from doing the sports I love. Taking things slow and steady is key – nobody can run a marathon overnight! It’s about making small changes, setting small goals, and not comparing yourself to others. So why not set yourself a challenge and go out there and smash it? Don’t be afraid – everyone has to start somewhere and you might just surprise yourself with how much you enjoy being active.”
Inspired by Beki’s story?
- Read out top tips to get asthma active and find an exercise you love
- Why not sign up to one of our fundraising events and set yourself a fitness challenge?
- Don’t forget to speak to your GP or asthma nurse before starting a new exercise routine or training programme. Or call our Helpline on 0300 222 5800 for advice.
Last updated April 2017