"There's no reason you shouldn't be the best"

Marathon world record holder, Paula Radcliffe MBE explains how asthma made her more determined to succeed.

Paula Radcliffe MBE in sportswear“Sport was my real passion at school. I enjoyed languages and maths but athletics was what I excelled at. But it wasn’t until my second year at university, when I finished seventh at the World Championships, that I decided to pursue a career in athletics.” 

Making asthma care part of daily routine

“My exercise-induced asthma was first recognised when I started training seriously at the age of 14. When I was training, I’d take my preventer inhaler first thing in the morning, and my reliever inhaler before I started exercising. I normally had two puffs of reliever but sometimes I increased this dose, especially if it was hay fever season or there was more air pollution. After a morning of exercises I’d have a sleep and then go out training again at about 5pm. I took my preventer inhaler again at night before going to bed. 

“It was very important to warm up gently over 45 minutes before I competed. I always jogged at a gentle pace for about 10 to 15 minutes before a race and did lots of stretching, especially in cold weather.

“I am also sensitive to common triggers such as house-dust mites, air pollution, tobacco smoke and some pollens. If I have a cold or viral infection I have to take extra care when exercising.” 

Determined to be the best

“I think that education is the most important issue. The message that I always try to communicate is that you should control your asthma, not let it control you. 

“I don't think asthma affected my career – if anything it made me more determined to reach my potential. If you learn to manage your asthma and take the correct medication there's no reason you shouldn't be the best. 

“As someone who has grown up with asthma, the message that Asthma UK sends out is very important to me. If I can show what it is possible for someone with asthma then hopefully I can encourage others.”