Exercise! - Any ex-smokers run??

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03-29-2007, 01:14 PM
Hi there!

I'm gearing up to start the C25K program on Monday. While I'm really, really excited to start running (I currently do the stationary bike 5x a week), I'm also really, really, REALLY nervous!!

I haven't run since I was 16 - I had been a smoker for 2 years at that point, but could still do it. I smoked for another 7.5 years, right up until last February, when I quit.

My lungs have sustained a lot of damage. My mom's an x-ray tech and she did a chest x-ray on me a couple of years ago and said that I have more damage from smoking than she does (she's smoked for 35 years). I found it very hard to swim because of lack of oxygen.

So... I'm nervous about the running, because my lungs aren't really conditioned for it; biking doesn't do a whole lot for them. I guess I'm just looking for inspiration from other ex-smokers who managed to start (and stick to) a running program. Please tell me you're out there!!

03-29-2007, 01:48 PM

I quit smoking over 10 years ago so my situation is quite different than yours. But I was also really out of shape. C25K is perfect for you. You will feel it you will probably cough alot (I did) and you will be fine and much healthier at the end.

Its really a perfect way for an ex smoker to heal some of the damage. You are doing the right thing. Let us know how it goes.

03-29-2007, 06:14 PM
Shelby - April 15th marks 2 years since I quit smoking (smoked for 7 years) and it's about a year since I started running... Just take it slow and I promise you can do it! 2 miles used to be the challenge, and I just finished my first half marathon! Don't get discouraged and just think about how each run is making your body that much healthier...

03-29-2007, 06:55 PM
Seriously? You just started running a year ago and you're doing a half marathon? I'm in total awe...

I guess I've just built this up in my mind so much as something I desperately want to do that it's scaring the carp out of me, KWIM?

03-29-2007, 09:33 PM
Well I smoked for 18 years, quit in 2001, began running in 2003. I have not become a serious runner, but I do run at least 3 days a week in the summer. I don't currently have access to a treadmill, so don't get in any running during the winter anymore. I run 3 miles. I have done 2 5K races as well. Those wore me out, but, I'm dealing with a bit more than just being an ex-smoker.

I was never physically active and had never run as a kid because I was born with heart defects which required surgery when I was 11. I still have a murmur. So I'll never be a marathon runner. I also didn't start running until I was 38.

03-30-2007, 11:52 PM
Absolutely you can run if you've smoked! Take is easy to start and you can do it :D...

03-31-2007, 01:09 AM
Hey Shelby, I don't run much--I usually use the elliptical and only hit the treadmill for a run once or twice a week. I have bad knees and don't really like running. BUT, I am a heavy smoker (I smoke a little more than 2 packs a day and have been doing so for over a decade....I'm a bad, disgusting girl) and I still manage to find the lung capacity for an intense 60 minute cardio session. It's tough, because my lungs are not as healthy as my legs, but I am able to pull it off. You should run, run, run--your lungs will let you know when they can't take it anymore. Also, take comfort from the fact that every day your body is healing itself from the damage your smoking did to it--every month that goes by means a healthier heart and healthier lungs. And also, I would imagine that your goal of completing a marathon will encourage you to keep on being a quitter.

Congrats on quitting. That's on my agenda for the summer or fall...Ugh. Food I can do without, but cigarettes? I'm not so sure...

03-31-2007, 01:19 AM
I haven't done any research, but I bet the percentage of smokers in the military is much higher than the average population. (Not much else to do when you are hurrying up and waiting). In the army, everyone has to pass a 2-mile run test. Most units also try to run at the very least 2 times a week. Believe me - you can run if you smoke - BUT, it's soooo much easier to run when you quit!!! I quit three months ago - after smoking for ten years. I am running sub 8 minutes miles for long distances.

You can do it!!! The respiratory epithelium repairs itself!!! The cilia (used to sweep the lungs of debris) will grow back. Take a gander on the web - see if you can find the pictures of a smoker's lung and the same lung after the smoker stopped smoking for three months. You will regain approximately 10% of your lung function after three months time.

03-31-2007, 10:05 PM
Perspective: do those cilia really grow back?? That's fantastic! I think mine have all been burned off (I've had a dreadful cough for the last 1 1/2 years). I thought perhaps they were gone for good. I love, love, love, *love* smoking, but I am looking forward (tentatively) to quitting.

03-31-2007, 10:29 PM
Perspective: do those cilia really grow back?? That's fantastic! I think mine have all been burned off (I've had a dreadful cough for the last 1 1/2 years). I thought perhaps they were gone for good. I love, love, love, *love* smoking, but I am looking forward (tentatively) to quitting.
Hubby had an extremely bad cough and when we both stopped smoking together, I noted it disappeared entirely. When he started smoking again, it came back. This was in the space of under a year BTW. He didn't completely quit. He started bumming smokes at work shortly after we "smoked our last one". :(

To hear hubby, he doesn't have a bad cough and smoking hasn't made a difference.

And I'm the President of the U.S. too.

03-31-2007, 10:34 PM
I quit smoking 2 1/2 months ago. Only gained back 5 lbs, and it was well worth it if you ask me. I smoked 1 1/2 packs a day for 22 years (YIKES!!). I ran while i smoked (was rough, and i was really slow but i did it)...now that I have quit I can breathe and run sooooooooooooooooooooooo much easier....the knees have given up the ghosts though, so Ive been working cardio with much lower impact. Yes, the lungs definately repair themselves, and in a few years, your risk of lung cancer etc will ALMOST be that of a non-smoker....unfortunately, there are risks that we exposed ourselves to that will continue to be a threat for the rest of our lives :(. Good luck on the running...and the quitting smoking....

baffled111...just so that you know, quitting smoking is only really hard for 3 days...its really not as bad as we convince ourselves it will be.

04-06-2007, 11:21 AM
I smoked for 10 years and just quit in January. I started the couch to 5 k program in late January, early february.

You CAN do it. You will see your limitations, but hey, they are there as long as you are new to something anyway. And it will get easier. At this point, when I can't keep up with the program it is because of my legs, not my lungs. I love that!

Running is great motivation to keep up with the quitting too- you will want so very much to do well at it, that you won't want to smoke as much because it will stand in your way. Good luck!