Posted by: Joe English | March 25, 2008

Training: what is the impact of smoking on runners?

Here’s another really interesting question sent in by a reader:

18 months ago at 35 years old I decided to start marathon running for health and so as to cut down wine drinking and quite smoking.

However, I never managed to quit but have made great progress while smoking 20 cigarettes a day. . . and I do smoke with little to no inhalation.

[I have run marathons in] Tokyo Feb 07 I did 3:57:00; Kawaguchiko Nov 07 I did 3:29:00; and Tokyo Feb 08 I did 3:03:00.

I know I am an idiot to smoke and I try and quit several times a week. But how much faster could I go if I quit? How many other runners secretly smoke as per your experience? There is no mention of smokers who run anywhere, yet I know another runner and an Iron man who do, and are as ashamed as me.

There are two major questions here. First, are there other runners that smoke out there and — second — what are the impacts of smoking on runners?

Smoking Runners
I would guess that my American readers are thinking to themselves that they already know the answer to this one. It is true that, in my experience anyway, there are very few American runners that smoke. I’m sure that there are smokers among our runners out there, but the concept of health and running are so tightly tied together that the number of people that both smoke and run is probably fairly low here.

But I have noticed that there are much greater numbers of smokers among Japanese runners in my travels. At the Honolulu Marathon, which attracts about 60% of its runners from Japan, you should not be surprised to see runners smoking WHILE running the race. I searched through my photos this morning, but couldn’t find a particular photo that I shot of four Japanese runners sitting down for a smoke break on the race course. I recall seeing a few runners actually running the race with cigarettes hanging from their lips.

In writing this article, I noted references in other running forums regarding Chinese runners also combining smoking and running. (You can read a bit of discussion between some runners about this topic by clicking here.) There are also some other runners that admit to it here and there in the running forums on the net.

It may be that there are higher rates of smoking in some countries and/or less of a tie to health and fitness with running. I can’t say this for sure, but I can say that you’re not alone as a smoking runner.

What is the impact of smoking on runners?
Now on to the more important topic: how does running impact your performance as a runner. Smoking cigarettes does several things that runners will want to avoid. Smoking increases airway resistance in the lungs, it lowers oxygen absorption by the blood, and it reduces physical endurance. Taken in combination, all of these factors are limiters to performance in running.

Runners need healthy lungs to pull as much oxygen as possible out of the air around them. Oxygen is transferred in the lungs to the blood, which then transports it to working muscles. The muscles need the oxygen to produce energy. By constricting the airways in the lungs and lowering blood absorption of oxygen, the muscles are supplied less of what they need to do their job. This diminishes performance, adds to fatigue and decreases endurance.

Airway resistance –Inhalation of smoke from a cigarette can cause a two to three-fold increase in airways resistance, the rate at which air moves in and out of the lungs. Smoking also causes chronic swelling of the mucous membranes of the airways, which adds to airways resistance. The tar in cigarette smoke adds to airways resistance. This tar coats the lungs, reducing the elasticity of the air sacs and resulting in the absorption of less oxygen into the bloodstream.

Lowered oxygen absorption — oxygen is transported in the blood by attaching to the hemoglobin within red blood cells. Oxygen has a great affinity for hemoglobin. However, carbon monoxide has a much greater affinity (200 to 300 times greater than oxygen) and so binds preferentially to hemoglobin. Raised levels of carbon monoxide in the blood also impair the release of oxygen from the blood into the cells. This has a significant effect on heart and other muscle cells where there is a high demand for oxygen.

Reduced Endurance — While exercise training can increase maximal oxygen uptake by up to 20%, smoking can reduce this effect by up to 10%. In a recent study adolescents who had smoked for five days had an 8% reduction in endurance time compared to controls. A US study of more than 3,000 naval personnel found smoking was detrimental to physical fitness even among relatively young, fit individuals. The study also found smokers have lower physical endurance than non or ex-smokers.

All of these factors together should be enough to tell you that if you are interested in increasing your performance as a runner, then quitting smoking is going to be a positive decision for you. As you push your body harder and faster, you need to supply more oxygen to your muscles and smoking cigarettes just diminishes your body’s ability to do that. If you really want to take it to the next level, then you should quit smoking.

Good luck with your running. Leave those cigarettes behind.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News
http://www.running-advice.com

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Responses

  1. Smoking makes the arteries ridged for appx two hours after you inhale. I applaud you for trying to quit and think it best for your heart if you do. I would imagine smoking and running puts a lot of stress on your heart. Caffeine too, which is my addiction.

    Best to you.

  2. Dear Coach English,

    Thank you very much for your knowledge and thoughts on this. You have given a balanced and reasoned response, and given good further reasons to stop which is what I need to break 3 hrs. I was also very amused by your recalling Japanese smoking athletes in Honolulu, to funny…

    Dear iamsamiam,

    i think you are very correct here on the 2 hours before. If I smoke on the day of a run, I can feel it, but if the day before, it is fine, so long as I had a good night sleep. Coffee though I feel helps if drunk 2 hours before.

    I WILL QUIT VERY SOON AND CAN FEEL THAT…. NOW THE SEASON APPROACHES.

    Thank you both so much…

  3. First of all by no means am i promoting smoking to anybody, its bad for you, my parents said it, my friends said it and now im saying it. DONT SMOKE. Now with that out of the way, ive been smoking for quite sometime, a pack a day. I run 3- 10 miles a day at a 7miinute pace, not very good, but good enough, Im 46 years old and i do compete in 5k and 10k races, i had a theory about how pro athletes train at higher altitudes ( hence less oxygen) well i do not have that luxury for i live in Michigan, we have no high elevation, but by smoking before i train and not smoking before a race, i do just fine, im not highly competitive, i go out and run my race, im not racing the other runners, because i have no idea who is in my age group anyway. Anyway, this is my two cents if anyone cares. lol

    • i have run seven marathons and smoke.dont smoke before training just after to be honest it does not affect me i am 40 .times are the same smoking and not smoking lol.you need some enjoyment in life and have no interest in stopping.marines paras etc smoke so why not me??? if you get out there and train hard you will be dam fit so dont worry.

      • Problem is after smoking 20 years pack a day how much enjoyment can you really get out of a cigarette.I used to enjoy it, not anymore.

      • I am an ex-smoker and just had to laugh when you said it does not affect you. it does, remember smokers are addicted and have convinced themselves it is not bad for them. it does affect your preformance. addicts can convince themselves of anything and do their best to convince the rest of us. again thanks for the laugh Mark.

  4. it´s true that if smoking is stopped for a few weeks, endurance returns. The problem is that as one gets older, the time to recover feels longer and longer. DON´T SMOKE PLEASE! it´s such a wasted phrase, but it´s so true. One other habit that is detrimental for runners is alcohol, and not many people refer to that. In my case, I feel its abuse harms my running severly. any feedback on that?

  5. So, I’m a smoker and a runner. I run around 35 miles a week.

    I notice that when I smoke within 10 min prior to my run, I can push further and get less out of breath during my run.

    And, as I time myself often, I complete runs faster when I smoke while I’m running.

    I’m also in the Navy, and I always finish 1st or second when we run our PFAs, even though the officers will yell at me to put out my smoke…

    Granted, I know it’s not good for me. And if I were to quit all together, I’d probably see a decent increase in my abilities. But as for now, I do decent and have no intention of quitting.

  6. Stuart,

    You definitely will see a long-term improvement in your running if you quit smoking.

    If I had to guess, the reason that you’re pushing harder when you smoke, is probably because smoking (perhaps the nicotine in the cigarettes) relaxes you and mentally allows you to push harder. But the long term impact on your lungs is that it will decrease their oxygen carrying capacity and thus your performance.

    But an even great point is that smoking causes lung cancer and that should be a big concern for you. Whether it impacts your running is a secondary issue compared to the much bigger issue of potentially dying from lung cancer later in life.

    Coach Joe

  7. Hey stuart,

    If you weren’t a smoker you’d win that navy race every time and wip that guy’s butt who sometimes beats you now. Obviously have a natural gift for running which you are wasting.

    It’s about maximising your potential. Maybe your navy buddies don’t do as much running as you ie competiong in 5 k races etc

    I’m sure MIchael Phelps could beat most surf life savers if he smoked but wouldn’t stand a chance at the elite level if he smoked.

  8. Stuart:

    I knew I wasn’t the only runner who smokes!

    I’m 31, training for my third marathon, smoke 3~4 cigarettes a day, and drink at least 4 shots of vodka every night. I train at a 7.5 min/mile pace, and run distance at 8.75 min/mile.

    However, four weeks ago when I ran 14mi, I decided to take two vodka shots and smoke a cigarette before I went. It took me about an hour to drop off my water bottles, but then I headed out for the run. The first 10 miles really didn’t feel different from my daily runs (other than it was more fun), but I started to feel it after that. I slowed down, got mildly dehydrated, and struggled for the last 2mi. I was also moderately sore the next day.

    So, yesterday when I ran 16 I did the opposite. I drank and smoked the night before, but about half as much. Before the run, I drank only Pedialyte and didn’t smoke. The run was relaxing and easier than 14, and I’m not sore at all today. I think hydration was the biggest factor in yesterday’s run, but not smoking may have helped, too.

    Generally speaking, I think distance runners feel like “more is better”. It takes an addictive personality to crave distance. But, I think before my next long run I may try to lay off smoking and drinking for 24 hours before the run and see how that works.

  9. Hi guys!
    I thin you should give the smoking aid “chantix” a try, and continue with the running!
    best of luck
    Paddy

  10. Seth, smoking 3-4 cigarettes a day does not a smoker make. It cannot even be considered physically addictive in quantities of fewer than 10 a day.

    Considering yourself a smoker as such does an enormous disservice to real smokers who cannot survive a day on less than a pack of 20. ‘Social’ smokers deserve the contempt of both smokers and non-smokers alike!

    Presumably, you will ‘give up’ your three-a-day habit at some point and boast to women about how you gave up smoking because of your incredible ‘will power’!

    • Lol mike, get the stick out of your ass. He has incredible will power for never being tempted to smoke more. Some people have self control, when understanding it’s bad for you. I’ve been addicted and quit many times. I find weed much harder to shake permanently. Your just one person

    • Even 1 cigarette a day can be addicting…this guy!

    • Dont kid yourself. Anybody who has smoked more than 100 cigarettes is a smoker. Addiction can come in the form of 3 per day or 40 per day.Ask yourself why somebody who smokes 3 per day cant give them up.If you look for excuses you will find them.

  11. WOW, I thought I was the only “secret smoker”. I’ve read a few things here that make sense, especially the addictive traits of runners. I disagree with the theory that quantity=addiction. I smoke less than 10 a day, but become a demon if I can’t have at least my morning smoke. I have tried quiting several times and my longest attempt lasted a year (before I ran). I think as smoker/runners we just need to except who we are and make the reason to quit our own, not the embarrassment or thumb nosing of our beloved running community.

    • Mary, your comment really helped me because I just started running and am constantly hounded by my dad about the smoking issue (who quit at age 40 and became a marathon runner). I am a demon as well if I don’t have my morning cigarette. I am actually afraid of calling myself a runner because of cigarettes. Now I feel better about it, and I know when I do quit, it will be for myself and not because if athletic pressure.

  12. I run and smoke…and always thought it was okay until for the last 3 months i’ve had this horrible smokers cough. I’m 25, and I’ve never coughed up stuff this disgusting in my life. My main addiction is with marijuana, not ciggarettes (which i also have smoked in the past but usually only a pack in 3 days). But I agree with Mary. I hate smoking ciggarettes but have struggled with nicotine off and on since I started smoking in my teens. I think I’m done with the cancer sticks for good this time.
    I’m running a marathon (for the 1st time ever), in a few months….and i can’t honestly think I can run and smoke. So its time to give myself a break. I can’t say i’m ready to give up smoking marijuana forever….but for the few months i think its wise. My lungs hate me right now. And my smoking habit IS really counter-productive to my running. And fitness is extremely important to me.
    Stay strong my runners. Let’s remember, Runners don’t smoke-they run.

  13. I run 4-7 miles a day either outdoors or on a track as well as smoke between a quarter to three quarters of a pack a day and it doesn’t really affect my performance (although i wont have one within an hour of going). There have been times when I’ve gone a day or two without one before a run and noticed that I had a better oxygen intake, HOWEVER the boost in respiration made me tend to overexert myself from the get-go and threw off my pacing substantially and as a result and I felt as if I was overdosing on oxygen and wore myself out quicker. Not smoking within roughly 24 hours of a run for me feels like going from training at a higher altitude in thinner air to running through a swamp in 100% humidity. And if you think about it, up until recently in history, every human being (including any soldier, athlete, etc you can think of) spent their whole life inhaling a ton of smoke from either wood-burning or coal-burning stoves (as primary heat sources) as well as substantial extraneous air pollution due to lack of regulations and of course tobacco smoke. Smoking has only grown out of taste in the past 3-4 decades due to the surfacing of obvious health risks (which I fully acknowledge but don’t want to get into), so anyone who ever physically exerted themselves prior to the past lets say 30-40 years was probably doing so with a lot more wear and tear on their lungs and you didn’t hear about how the guys in WWII (who were smoking gov. issued filterless lucky strikes in excess of a pack a day) panting as they faught due to tobacco smoke, or how the legendary spartans had to take a breather every 10 minutes because they had been inhaling wood smoke as well as dirt and anything else you can think of every day since the day they were born. So if you wanna smoke and run, go ahead and smoke and run. Although I’d stick to non-menthol lights and keep it around or under a half-pack a day.

  14. Well I don’t smoke cigarettes but I smoke about 2 joints a day and drink heavily about 3 days out of the week. (I’m 22 and run about 20 mi a week at a 6min pace) Our bodies weren’t designed to breath smoke and while it is most definitely damaging to the body it is helpful for the mind to relax. I smoke after my runs for that reason and also to get my appetite up. Drinking on the other hand has me a little confused…the days after I drink heavily I have a stronger drive and I’m able to push myself harder. I suppose it could be all in my head but I would love to hear some feedback from other runners.

    • Hell yea man, i felt like i was just reading my own story. I dont drink as often anymore but i definitely have my 2 joints a day. I run about 3 times a week and smoke before and a bit after my runs, which helps me create a healthy diet. I feel i have the ability to push myself harder and i track my runs and see improvements, but like you said that might be in my head. I run 3-5 miles a day at 9:30 pace and am a bit more heavy set but through dieting somehow,i fell in love with running.

  15. I am also a secret smoker who runs, I have smoked around 5/6 cigarettes a day for almost 20 years (Im 41 now) Ive cut down recently to 2 a day but also smoke weed – about 3 joints a day. Im running a half marathon in 5 days and am smoking while typing this. Ive run 6 marathons in 2 yrs and countless halfs and 10ks in the same time. Ive only been running 3 yrs and my best marathon time was 4.30, best half 2.01 and best 10k 54.5. I have joined a club and do a speed session once a week – do a longish run myself (10-12 miles) and a few 3-6 miles here and there. Id love to improve on my times but feel the smoking holds me back (as my legs are fine but lungs are burning). I do enjoy a smoke and struggle to give up – especially the weed. Id love to run a 4hr marathon & a sub 2 half – has anyone any advice? My lungs do burn at the speed sessions and Im usually wrecked afterwards

    • I read an article in High Times about 14 years ago that stated that, if you smoke a cigarette within 15 minutes of smoking marajuana, your lungs bleed. After reading that, I stopped smoking cigaraettes within 15 minutes of smoking marajuana and my smokers cough went away.

    • How’d you do in your marathon? I am running one in 3 mths – I hate the cigg habit but have long wondered if there were others out there like me. Reading this strand has been somewhat comforting! Yesterday I ran 15 in high humidity & for first time ever had breathing problems (not sore, no muscle problems) – it was not fun. Had to stop & walk. Am wondering if it’s the smoking. I smoke 1x per week, a social smoker, about 10.

  16. my parents have an oxygen sensor that you place on your finger. if you really want to see the immediate effects, you should buy one. i think i might buy my own.

  17. Wow, i really enjoyed reading this thread. I too smoke ciggs (pack a day), weed (every day) and drink (most every night). 3 years ago I was getting real fat. I started walking, walking turned to running and now I am about 40 pounds lighter. Throughout the whole process I smoke and drank. Before every run I take a few tokes. I really feel something is wrong with me, but its hard to complain when I lost 40 pounds and feel great. I am 46 so I have no desire to run fast. I do however have a desire to run further. I run about 140 to 170 miles a month. Honestly, i feel like if I had to give up toking before a run, I might not run at all. Lets say I couldn’t quit…is running and doing everything I do worse for me? Am I accelerating my demise by continuing on this path?

  18. I am almost 40 years old. I am often told that I look 26. On occasion still get carded when I buy beer. I run about 40 to 60 miles a week. The last marathon I ran was in 3 hrs and 47 minutes about a month ago. The average time to finish a marathon is about 4.5 hrs.I also drink a six pack of beer every night. Im just as addicted to running as I am smoking and drinking. However I have a diet that consists mostly of fish and vegetables> I rarely drink anything but water and beer. I binge on candy and soda every once in a while. I know that quitting smoking and drinking as much as I do would improve my performance, but have yet to do so. Plus I lived in Colorado from 2005 until 2009 and still managed good times. I m now in Europe running. So I don’t know what the real effects are as far as health is concerned. With running it’s about determination and endurance and pushing yourself to the limits.

  19. Oh I forgot to mention that I have been smoking a pack of smokes a day for that last 24 years.

  20. Glad to see there are so many runner/smokers out there. And like everyone, I’d like to preface by saying that smoking is not good for you. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. I’m a medical student, too, so my life is all contradiction. However, I’ve run 20-30 miles a week for the last 10 or so years and have smoked a 1/2 pack a day for just about that long. I will say though that the low O2 availibilty in a smokers lung raises hematocrit (the red blood cell count) which then stays up for about a 120 days. This is the same effect as training at high altitudes. Before races, I cut down on the smoking and man I’m superwoman for just about 120 days. And just a little tidbit, smoking predisposes you to many cancers and increases risk for heart disease. But, as an upside, it protects you from Alzheimers and ulcerative colitis.

  21. Wow, I’m quite impressed to know there are others like me. Although I’ve only recently started running again after say 15 years, I’ve only been doing 2-3 miles 3 times a week or about a month now. I used to win all the track meets and cross country events as a youth and teen. The same time I became hooked on weed. I’ve been smoking 3-5 spliffs a night for 15 years and a pack of cigarettes or more a day depends if I’d been drinking. I feel like I am lucky to have a natural talent but get pretty pissed knowing that I can’t quit the performance damaging habits. I’m hoping if I keep running I’ll eventually run myself outta my habits and only crave running farther and farther. I wanted to start of slowish but I’m wondering how far I should push myself while still partaking in my bad habits. Can anyone shed some light on how much I should increase my training and at what pace. half a mile a week more? I feel a little dizzy after 3 miles but I know I can push more. Just wanted to make sure I wouldnt collapse or something crazy because I know how much marijuana has entered these lungs and wasnt sure how much damage I’ve really done. Do we heal completely from smoking? How much training is required? Running is awesome makes me feel great and definetly clears the cobwebs from all the ganja. Cudos to you guys who actually ran a marathon while smoking. This is now my dream and goal. If you can do it so can I.
    Thanks!

  22. smoking causes damage to your lungs, obviously over time it will effect your breathing which will effect your ability to run, then you’ll blame it on aging and continue to smoke and prolly developed lung cancer and die prematurely

  23. I like how i’m not the only one who’s in the NAVY and smokes plus usually gets like 1st or second on my PFA’s although i’ve never had the balls to smoke while doing one. As for my running time i run a mile and a half in 8 mins and 30 sec. and run a 5k in 18 min and 15 sec. So i have no problems at all smoking and running.

  24. Hi all,
    very insightful reading all your different perspectives on smoking and it’s effects on your running performance. I too run long distance and smoke.(20 per day). I sometimes think I must be completely bonkers because I know instinctively that it affects my performance . Addiction is not rational but then flogging yourself for kilometres isn’t either!! I’m deeply consoled and amused by those Japanese runners. And in awe of the tokers and drinkers!!Don’t know how you do it!

  25. I smoked a cig 3 nights ago. My last one was 4 months ago. I am 29 and I have been smoking off and on sinc6e I was 16. I have been a runner since I was 7 years old. I was always the fastest girl in school and in the city. I ran track and cross country all through middle school and high school. Every time I smoked I noticed that I was slower and I had a rougher time breathing and I wanted to give up sooner. I just ran a couple miles today and I did horriable. I was doing so good with my running but after that cig 3 days ago my performance was less than half and I had to stop and take few breaks. I don’t ever want to pick up another cig again! I am so done with it controlling the way I run. I know I can do better. I’d rather be a better runner than a crappy runner because of a cig I smoked.

  26. If you smoke you just won’t be as good a runner. Some people are gifted and can overcome that. I am not one of those people. I have to decide whether I want to crack 20 miles or enjoy another cigarette. I can’t have both.

  27. I am fascinated by all these experiences. I was a light (5 cig a day) smoker, for 7 or 8 years with a few breaks, and for some of that time also smoked weed. Ironically during that time, I ran and worked out alot and could be seen lighting up a cig upon leaving the gym. I knew it was bad, but it didnt seem to affect my drive or performance. less than two years ago I stopped smoking weed, and i just quit smoking cigarettes around last June, so thats been 6 or 7 months smoke free. Im 30, btw.

    However I have noticed this change since I quit. I feel great and love not smoking, but as far as working out, I am not very motivated, get overly fatiqued while running, and get a little wheezy. If I overdo it i start coughing because my throat gets dry and my chest feels really tight, and ill cough up mucus, sorry for the TMI:) The first few months i thought i was just detoxing, but its been a while! Has anyone else had an experience like this, maybe its just something else going on but im worried that Ive ruined my lungs, or developed some wierd asthmatic thing. Its the wierdest thing, but I was fine while i was smoking! i have no intention of starting again so i hope it gets better. If anyone has any opinions or experience to share id greatly appreciate.

  28. glad I’m not alone! Im a 25 year old female I run about 35km (Canadian here!) a week, and smoke about 10-12 cigarettes a day. Just very recently I’ve started to become very light headed and almost nauseous near the end of my daily runs. It is really unenjoyable. I have noticed I’m also coughing more (wasn’t coughing at all before), and wonder if this is due to my smoking. I’ve decided to try to stop smoking for two weeks to see if it improves my running. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  29. Just throwing this out there not sure if it has been said on here or not, but I recently switched to an E-Cig to those who are finding it hard to quit, I haven’t touched a regular smoke since I started. Running Endurance has gone up. Plus the coughing is done! If interested visit vaporleaf.com. Thats who I use.

  30. This thread was a Godsend. I smoked for 16 years and quit in 2001. I’ve run 3 marathons (PR 4:20, December 2010), quite a few halfs (PR 1:59) and many 5KS though the years. I’m 43.

    Although I quit smoking in 2001, since 2003, I have been smoking while on vacation. I haven’t touched a single cigarette unless I am out of town. In 2010, I smoked on 3 occasions – the last of which was a trip to a casino right after Christmas.

    When I return from these vacations, I almost always get this lingering cough which scares the crap out of me. I think, “lung cancer”! A couple years ago, I got a chest x-ray which came back clear and of course the cough eventually went away. After the last trip, I had the cough, it lingered, went away, but I have had this nagging dull pain in my mid-back. I’m terrified – and plan to get a chest x-ray so I can stop torturing myself.

    The good thing is that I have put my fears to the test by running. I figure that if I were really sick, no way would I be able to run 6, 7 or 8 miles (or longer) without wheezing or gasping, right? I have had some very good runs and those have been reassuring. We’ll see what happens.

    The biggest challenge will be to try to kick my smoking-three-times-a-year habit!!!!!

  31. I am a 47-year-old female who is running the Boston for the second time, this coming April. After 33 years of smoking 20 cigarettes every day, this will be my first-ever marathon as a non-smoker.
    Within one week of giving up, my base pace improved by 35 seconds per mile, and I no longer wheeze when pushing the pace. I definitely have more energy all round. My example so far shows that smokers can indeed run, sometimes quite well, but not optimally. What it will interesting to see is the extent to which my race times improve. The Hong Kong half next Sunday is the first proper test. The April Boston will be the second. Perhaps by the end of this year, I can post the times for both my 2010 races (as a smoker) and 2011 races (as a non-smoker) so that I can give more of answer to the question: how does smoking affect running performance?

  32. Just a quick note for ange, the reason that you are experiencing chest tightness and coughing is because you’ve given up smoking. It can take up to a year to clear out all of the mucous left over by smoking and exercise exacerbates this process. So you are doing the right things and it will eventually clear up.

  33. I am a heavy smoker ie a box a day. I run between 5km and usually 10km per day. Today I ran 17km. I do all my training on a treadmill. The other day I went to the UK and did a 5km run outdoors. By the first 1km my chest was on fire, as if someone had lit a match and threw it down my throat. I have not experienced this in any of my previous runnings. I am not sure if this has anything to do with smoking and obviously the outdoor environment. I would love to stop smoking, but I just can not do it. In fact I am nearly scared of stopping, because there are times I absolutely love it, as if it is a best friend. I am scared of weight gain, I run to keep my weight down to a realtively normal weight.

  34. I smoke a pack a day, I’m in the Marine Corps and ran a 16:45 on our PFT (which is 3 mi). I have an idea and if anyone knows what I should do to make this happen let me know… I want to see if American Spirits (tabbacco company) will sponsor me to run a marathon if I smoke a cigarette for every mile during the race! Also, I agree with the comments about training and taking a break right before the race. However, my personal best was done right after smoking two cigarettes and drinking a coffee. Semper Fi- Todd

  35. We aren’t alone, just unique. . I have ran solid for the past 12 years and have smoked for about the same time 6 -10 a day. Truly, It’s a rediculous habit. However, I am 32 and run 5ks sub 19min/10 miles sub 70min and constantly improve if training harder. Also, I climb often and at times at altitiude, but live in Michigan. I have heard that smoking can train the body to operate at lower levels of oxygen simulating higher elevation. Is there any scientific sense to this? If not, I am out of reasons not to quit..

  36. I RUN. I SMOKE. and IM NOT PROUD OF IT. I HATE THE CIGS. BUTT, you know, the common reasons. But i’m setting a goal, and that is to join the ironman in our country, I know I will be able to quit because I really want to live a healthy lifestyle. Smoking will be a 4 year affair for me, next year im done with it.

    (i just can’t quit now, BUT I WILL!)

    *now dont you raise eyebrows on me, just give love and support because I will!

  37. I’m a 50 year old runner. 5 & 10 K’s at a 6:30 pace. Half’s at a 7+ min pace Doing a marathon this fall. I don’t smoke and never will. I also build and race cars. No matter how well you build an engine, it always runs faster with clean air filter ~ Food for Thought.

  38. people on here saying they smoke (a pack a day) and manage to run 5-10k / day at (7min pace! not 15 … Seven!) .. are probably full of it OR do not inhale. It’s plain stupid to believe such a notion – one in a million would be capable of that – and probably quit eventually, just not to suffer as much during exercise. Now if somehow it’s true and you pack a day runners are doing those <7min miles – Power to You ! (and you can't fix stupid)

  39. I smoke a pack a day and run 5 miles a day. I did a half marathon in 3 hrs 42 mins. It was my first and i ran it 4 months after giving birth. I have been a pack a day smoker and a pot smoker for 18 yrs (minus 9 months while pregnant). I don’t think smoking affects my running whatsoever. After i finish my short 5 miles runs (I don’t time myself) i know I could easily keep going. I have made a commitment to myself that when I feel smoking is damaging my running or breathing, I will quit. It has yet to happen.

    • Judging by the half marathon time you give,its clear that smoking is already damaging your running. I mean thats a 17 minute per mile pace. Walkers go faster than that. Give them up.

  40. ive been smoking for a year and still run….just now am i beggining to see the impact (year later) and really considering quitting. my lung capacity just isnt the same

  41. Smoking and running or pursuing other interestes is really nothing to be proud of. You already know that smoking is bad for you. Being athletic will help negate the efffects of smoking, but only so long. And after a point it will work against you, since your body cannot rebuild for the damage you do due to smoking and rebuild after athletic activity at the same pace as you age. You will have to give up on one, and unfortunately smokers are likely to take the easier option of reducing working out. I have done 10 marathons, 8 triathlons including 2 Ironman distance races. I know smoking held me back, and its been getting tougher to keep up over the years. Last 2 years I have been feeling my gum tissue, throat tissue getting coarser, lungs feeling dryer, breathing slightly more difficult, not getting quality sleep. I am smoke free for 30 days now. Tissue in both areas have recovered, I actually need less sleep now since the sleep I get is deeper due to lack of Nicotine. I fall aslee easier and spring out of bed in the morning because I am well rested. I smoked a pack a day for 22 years, and I intend to stay smoke free from this point onwards. if you are smoking less than half a pack and not doing more than a 10K, you probably won’t think it makes a big difference. Although its still killing you slowly.

    Keep trying, you will succeed in quitting. Find that 1 method to kill smoking before you realize its killed you. Not only physically but also mentally, emotionally, enslaving you every hour of everyday.

    Non-Smokers dont have this chance to do one thing that can approve everything in their lives. As a smoker you can do this. All you have to do is quit. It will improve everything in your life.

    s

  42. I knew I was not the only smoker out there. Like others on here I know smoking is bad for me but I just enjoy it. I run about 3-4 times week 5K. I am 50 and usually run at a 8-8:30 pace depending on the time of day. I cycle (mountain bike} about 20 miles per week. I have been smoking for about 20 years 10 clove cigs (Djarm). I usually smoke before and after I run. I too have been contemplating stopping this habit but being on call and having to go in all hours of the night when I am on call has kept me from stopping. Anyways after reading this I am going to experiment by not smoking the night and morning before my runs and will everyone know how it goes. Smoke On LOL,

  43. I used to smoke and drink. (for about 3 years)
    I have been clean for about two months now.
    But everytime I go out for a run, my stomach hurts from the inside like if someone was poking it. My lungs dont really hurt but it’s frustrating that even after i quit i still have this problems…….???

  44. cigarette smoking is very addictive. if i had said “i will start running after i quit smoking” i simply never would have started running. some people run because they love running, or because that is the best workout for them, but not because everything they do always has to be healthy.

  45. I only smoke mid day, never in the morning because that’s when I run and never at night, just to recover when I do smoke. and when I do, it’s only 3 ciggs a day MAX. somedays I just forget I even have smokes lol.

  46. . Does anybody else struggle given the fact that smoking is un healthy and running is healthy, counsciously? See I enjoy both, a cigerette is my simple pleasure and my running is my disipline to get healthier. So at times I struggle constantly, that I cant do the other if Im doing this.. But I like both!

  47. I smoked for over 15 years and exercised the entire time. It eventually came down to a choice between the two because I couldn’t keep doing all the cardio exercises (including running) and keep smoking too. Also, when I was a smoker, I was sick more often. That meant days/weeks of no exercise because I was trying to cure a sickness. I quit smoking when I was 35 and my running/exercising got much easier … not to mention funner because I knew I was getting better. As a smoker, I would feel better when I finished a long run but that feeling would turn bad as soon as I got in the car and lit up a cig. A couple of years after quitting smoking, I got really short of breath doing a stair workout. It was quite frightening. Doc was thinking blood clot so I had to have alot of tests done … no clot but we discovered that my lungs have the beginning of emphysema … COPD. It is now 10 years later and I exercise everyday … including 4 days of running … long and short runs. I use an inhaler before the runs because it makes me feel better. The COPD – emphysema has not progressed and it never will because I will never go around smoke again. If you smoke and run, you may feel fine now but the damage that is being done by the smoke is very real. You are a rare breed if you can push yourself in your workouts and yet still smoke. Eventually, you will have to choose between the two … sooner is better than later.


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