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Running and ex-smokers. - The Original Live Journal Runners Club
Running and ex-smokers.
Hi there. I am new to this comm and have checked the memories so I hope this is OK.

I started running about 3 weeks ago on a plan similar to the Couch to 5k plan. Basically I run 1 min then walk 2 mins then run 1 min and so on, upping the repetitions until I can run 5k comfortably. Last week I was on 6 reps and this week I am supposed to be on 7 reps but I am finding it hard, so I am sticking to 6 reps until it gets easier.

My question is, no doubt the fact I was a smoker until 3 months ago is affecting my lung capacity, but does anyone know how long it's going to be before I can run for a minute wthout wanting to die? The article I use states that, if I can't carry on a conversation then I am working too hard, but if I work any less hard I'll be walking! I would love to run a 5k fun run next year but the way I am going it's going to take years to get to that stage.

I know I have really only just started and I was inactive for years before this year, but any advice would be gratefully received.

ETA: It seems that my problems may not be so much a result of smoking as more to do with the fact I haven't done any hard exercise for 20 years because I was a smoker. This is all interesting stuff guys. Thanks for all your replies.
28 miles | run a mile
vieirra From: vieirra Date: September 2nd, 2009 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not real sure, but I think I read somewhere that it takes like 10 years for your body to return to normal after you quit smoking. This is similar to what I remember reading.
tzf_frenchfry From: tzf_frenchfry Date: September 2nd, 2009 11:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Those stats don't factor in the running, which I admit, I don't know how much of an impact it makes, but I'd hope it makes some impact.

To the OP, just keep on doing it.
ny_yn From: ny_yn Date: September 2nd, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Note that according to this chart the "symptoms" of smoking (shortness of breath, blood pressure changes) disappear in under a year; its only statistical risks that remain a factor after that time.
deimos_dagny From: deimos_dagny Date: September 2nd, 2009 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
My former running partner started running to motivate himself to quit smoking, and he ran his first ever trail marathon about 18 months after smoking his last cigarette.

Everyone's lungs and aerobic capacity is different, so I don't have a timeline for you, but you can do this! Every step you take is a step in the right direction!
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
That makes me feel a bit better. Thanks. :)
bozotkutya From: bozotkutya Date: September 2nd, 2009 10:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Of course, I haven't seen you run, and you did not say how much distance you cover in those 1 minute runs, but I'm almost sure you run way too fast. People tend to imagine running as much much faster than walking thus when they try running they try to go ten times faster than they should. Try running at a very comfortable pace even if it feels goddam slow. If it otally throws you breathing off, you're definietly running too fast. Absolutely don't care about speed right now, just try to slowly increase the time spent running/walking and you'll see the results sooner than you'd think!

Keep up the good work!
thewesternsky From: thewesternsky Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with this comment. :)
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
You might be right. I have just done a bit of back-of-the-envelope adding using MapMyRun and I reckon I run about 190m in 1 min, which counts as just over 8 miles an hour! Blimey!

I am running again tomorrow so will experiment with pace. Thanks.
(Deleted comment)
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am such a goof! I mean an 8 minute mile. And I am over 40 so yes, I reckon I still need to slow down. Thanks for the information.
From: freyjasgrace Date: September 2nd, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

I smoke... I can run 5 miles.
ny_yn From: ny_yn Date: September 2nd, 2009 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Running is a fantastic way to stay away from cigarettes. Half a year into it, you'd be saying "a cigarette? No-no, I'm a runner, I don't smoke!" :)
(Deleted comment)
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have neither. I suspect it is just being lazy for thr last 20 years that does it.
From: freyjasgrace Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Let me elaborate

I was on my way out to do a 12K bike ride over hills when I wrote my one liner.

I quit smoking in January of '05, and gained close to 50lbs, became severely depressed, and hated myself. In my ever-ending quest to regain myself, I started running about a year and half later. I hit every obstacle imaginable - my calves exploded. I elected to have major surgery to correct the problem in April of '08. I continued trying to run. Prior to quitting I played ball hockey 3x a week, and very shortly after I quit I was doing jiu jitsu 6 hours a week.

My partner had quit along with me, and wasn't so active in quelling his depression, and my relationship began to seriously fall apart. In August of '08, I had a smoke or two. By October, I was smoking on the weekends. The night before my first 5K run I stayed up late, drank, and smoked. I ran a full 5K for my first time ever, in 31:38.

As time went on, I became a smoker again. I did little over the winter, and come spring of '09, I started running again. I started with miles, and then increased from there. In June of '09 I decided to train for a sprint triathlon. That tri is on Sunday.

I am in no way advocating smoking, but smoking is not the culprit - inactivity is the culprit. I would certainly be a better runner if I didn't smoke, but I'd also be contemplating suicide. I figure it's better to smoke and run, than not smoke, and jump off a cliff. So that's what I do. I have to quit after my tri because I'm having yet another surgery (nasal issues, I can't breathe through my nose.. and yet I *still* run and train) and my ENT won't operate if I'm smoking. I honestly don't want to because I'm happier smoking, but I will to get rid of my nasal problems.

By all means quit, and do your best to be happy as a non-smoker, I commend you for it, but don't blame it for your lungs. Blame the fact that for years you did nothing. I can run 5 miles, I can bike 18K. I can swim for 40 minutes straight, and I still smoke. I'm not proud of it, but that is the reality.

As for your running, go to the gym (get a day pass if you don't have a membership) and get on the treadmill. Set it to somewhere between 4.0 and 4.5 and run at that speed. That is the speed you should be running. It takes time to get your body used to exercise, ex-smoker or not, and the only way to conquer it is to keep doing it. It'll take as long as it'll take, that depends on how out of shape you are.

Believe me, if I can overcome the obstacles I have overcome and do a sprint tri, 5K races, and my next is a 10 mile and still smoke, it can't be that hard for people who don't have exertional compartment syndrome and cysts in their sinus cavities, and so forth.

It is also highly unlikely you have asthma or allergies preventing you, inactivity is the culprit. Smoking is bad for you, there is no doubt about it, but a lot of crap is spewed about it to make people want to quit - like you *can't* be fit and smoke. You *can't* run and be a smoker. It's not true.
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Let me elaborate

I am aware that, as an ex-smoker who didn't do any exercise because there was no point, I have a little way to go before my lungs are sleek and clear.

I have given up, and I gave up for non-fitness related issues. I started running because giving up started me eating. I love food so the best way to prevent putting on the lbs is to exercise, and running is the best for me by far.

I agree that it is unlikely that I have asthma and allergies. It's just getting fit that's making me a sweaty blob. :)
From: freyjasgrace Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Let me elaborate

Smoker or not, it takes time, and it's all relative to how unfit you are. If you were literally a couch potato, it'll take more time than if you were moderately active. It does come though, and once you enjoy running, it can be the most wonderful thing. Good luck!

For me it was 6 of one, half dozen of another - either be fat and have that slow me down, or smoke and have that slow me down. Hopefully next time I quit (in like, a week) I can be happier. I'm not going to give up my NRTs next time, I don't care about addiction anymore, and gum or patches are better than smoking.

Try out the treadmill - all new runners go too fast!
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Let me elaborate

I used an inhaler for a while and it was very satisfying. :)

I reckon I am going too fast - upthread I work out I am doing about 8mph which is much faster than I expected. I shall experiment tomorrow. In the mean time I hope your quitting is easy and problem free. :)
ilp From: ilp Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
As a former very inactive self, but a non-smoker, I also thought that I'd never see the point where I could run more than a minute without running out of breath. It will come with persistence.
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. :)
becoming40 From: becoming40 Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I started running I was a smoker. I even ran my first marathon while still a smoker. Of course it's been 3 1/2 years since I've had my last cigarette (Hooray!) and I am running better than ever!! But, I guess I am saying that just because you are a former smoker doesn't mean your lungs will really need that long of a time to get used to running...
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it's good to hear that I am not condemned to be crap at running for years. Thanks for your comment, and well done on the quitting.
porktruck From: porktruck Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of the good things (kind of a stretch, I know) about smoking is that you reap plenty of benefits as soon as you quit. According to the American Lung Association those benefits are..........

brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Most of it was pretty noticeable pretty quick. The one that got me most was the hypersensitive sense of smell which, thankfully, has died down a bit. It was not fun being able to smell BO a room away. :/
From: freyjasgrace Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hah, yeah. That was the first worst part of quitting for me. The world is an awful smelly place.
ny_yn From: ny_yn Date: September 2nd, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hehe :)
(Deleted comment)
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I shall bear that in mind. I will stick at whatever is comfortable and move on when I am ready. Thanks.
carminaburana From: carminaburana Date: September 2nd, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm an ex-smoker (gradually started quitting last october and then stopped completely last january) and couch to 5k totally helped me get into the swing of things. I'd give it a couple of months. In my case, i ended up doing Cto5k a few times because i was traveling a lot and couldn't train consistently, but i think the gradual training helped me. Are you doing any other exercises aside from running? Cross-training helped me tremendously.
brewhexe From: brewhexe Date: September 2nd, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I go to the gym 3 times a week, do aerobics and calisthenics 3 times a week, and swim once a week on top of the running (it's all carefully co-ordinated). I am actually doing a weight loss plan and the running has helped enormously so I want to carry it on.
raayneforest From: raayneforest Date: September 2nd, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just keep going.
28 miles | run a mile