If you haven’t read my original ‘Drugs in Sport‘ please have a quick look, here’s what happened in the last 2 years.
Well, not exactly nothing- on the recommendation of one runner i did get a referral from my Doctor to a respiratory specialist. Who just happens to be 400m from my front door. That referral stayed on my desk until it expired, so I got another one.
Then before this one expired, I thought I should take some action. In the last article I had decided that because a local GP said I didn’t qualify for any further treatment I would be satisfied with that. In reality, not knowing was gnawing at me. I didn’t necessarily need drugs but I needed to know.
So last Tuesday morning ( 1st November, Melbourne Cup Day!) I duly turned up to see Dr David Joffe. He has a bunch of Vietnam War memorabilia which was a bit intimidating, I wondered if he was going to tell me to HTFU!
But he turned out to be absolutely fascinating to talk to and of course very knowledgeable. After asking a whole bunch of questions about my current treatment, past and a whole bunch of lifestyle questions, he suggested that I probably have a low grade persistent asthma. Which does match my symptoms……unfortunately.
He has prescribed a newer version of Seretide called Breo Ellipta, and I’ve now been taking it for 6 days.
So, what has happened? I no longer have to make sure there is no blankets near my mouth so I can breath at night. Several times a day I inhale and wonder that it isn’t a struggle. I was even a bit light headed on occasion!
I CAN BREATHE!
But what about running? I’m not any faster, in fact I think I’m a bit slower! However I don’t seem to have the same issue with lactic acid that I used to. This kind of makes sense- my theory is that my ‘cruising speed’ was too close to my ‘fuck I’m dying speed’ and over the period of a long race I would just get worse and worse lactic acid buildup. You’ve seen the video of me the day after Coast To Kosci in 2014 right? I haven’t been able to do a full session of hills for a long time….. now it seems that I can run up a hill (slowly) without absolutely killing my lungs. Will I be able to run like a normal person? Too early to tell, I did feel a bit shit last week but hoping to be able to perform a bit better soon. Does this mean that I will finally be able to run so hard up a hill that I vomit? Oh, what joy!
Now that there is a bit more ‘breathing space’ (see what I did there?) between my cruising speed and my racing speed, I hope to suffer less during races. But I still don’t have any driving need to win. I’m still happy to be cannon fodder in these races……
So, what if I choose not to take the drugs? Well, as the good Doctor explained ‘when your bronchial tubes are constricted and you’re trying to push a lot of air through them, you’re probably desiccating your lungs. If you don’t have this medicine you could be screwed when you are 60 years old’. In fairness he seemed to indicate that this would be a problem for a non exerciser too.
And yes, the drug is on the WADA list of banned substances, as a beta-2-agonist. But then again so is Ventolin- so I guess the landscape hasn’t changed that much. So there you have it, this new treatment may allow me to run with less pain and with less damage to my body. Two thumbs up.
A couple of notes from online conversations I’ve had on FaceBook-
1. If you currently have or have previously had asthma, you should get regular updates with a specialist. I didn’t think this was needed but it seems I’ve been kidding myself.
2. I’ve never been drug tested for a race and don’t really expect to be- tests are expensive and a race will generally only test the top positions. If I failed a test I would be able to produce my medical exemption- have a look at this article– about 1% of tests are positive, of these 64% result in sanctions, 26% are not followed up and 10% get a Dr’s note. I need to read up about the right way to deal with this.
3. Honestly I’m quite pleased that the decision was made for me ‘take this or suffer later’ because the thoughts around taking a drug that could make me faster was weighing heavily on my mind. On the other hand, hundreds of people have known what it’s like to run with me while I’m hacking up a lung, I’m not making it up!
*just don’t read the drug information insert