Jo Stocks starts the POWERbreathe road

Joanne Stocks PhotoHi, I’m Jo and to celebrate turning the ripe old age of 35 and becoming a veteran this year, I have decided to challenge myself to run all the World Marathon Majors: Boston; London; Berlin; Chicago and New York. Although I am running this for personal achievement, I have also decided to raise money and awareness for asthma.

I have chosen to do this as my PhD was in respiratory medicine focusing on asthma research and I suffer from asthma myself. My asthma is mainly exercise induced and it does affect my racing in the heat during the Summer, during the Spring thanks to pollen and also in the cold, when it caused me to seek medical help during my last attempt at the New York marathon. However I still carried on running and for me exercising with asthma is all about managing it correctly through medication, training and listening to your body.

I also teach a number of sports to children and young people who miss out on participating in activities through not managing their asthma successfully or because their asthma will prevent them from taking part so through my marathon challenge I wish to inspire people with asthma to participate in sports.

Although asthma has never stopped me from participating in sports, I often feel annoyed during races when it is my breathing that is holding my back rather than my legs not being able to carry me faster. So when I heard about Powerbreathe I was excited to try it.

We decided that as I already train a lot I would try the Heavy Resistance (Sports Performance Plus model) so there is a greater potential for improvement. When my Powerbreathe arrived at the beginning of January, I was so excited to start using it I ignored the instructions ‘if you are suffering from a cold sinusitis or respiratory tract infection don’t use until symptoms have disappeared’. Level 1 of the ‘Heavy Model’ is equivalent to about level 2.5 of the ‘Light Model’. I began at level zero and straight away my ears popped similar to when I try to clear them when scuba diving. I then decided I had better follow the instructions and wait till I had recovered from my cold and infection before inflicting heavy training on my chest.

My peak flow on day one was 430L/min still lower than I have achieved in the past but better than during my cold. I began at level zero and managed about 25 breaths. I was wearing the nose clip and my ears were crackling a bit like they were going to pop again so I stopped. Over the next few days I have learnt how to use the Powerbreathe more effectively. I was inhaling deeply then breathing out shallowly so was almost hyperventilating within 20 breaths.

Breathing more evenly I could master 30 breaths easily, so took it up to level 0.5 and now have been increasing it by a quarter of a turn each time I comfortably achieve 30 breaths. Today I am almost at Level 1 and my peak flow is 470 L/min. I don’t want to attribute all the improvement to the POWERbreathe as obviously I am still recovering from the cold, but I am feeling I can breathe deeper during my training up hills and only once needed to take my inhaler mid run. Looking forward to more improvements next week.

You can follow me and my marathon challenge on my website or on Twitter @MajorRunning

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