My childhood was punctuated with time in and out of hospital, although my parents were proactive in sourcing the best treatments available, including my very own nebuliser. My asthma is at the worst end of the scale: it’s severe, especially if I don’t do my best to control it. Many things cause my asthma and even when it’s managed well, there are certain triggers that all the control in the world won’t stop an attack from coming on.

In late 1999 I was introduced to triathlons. It was not long before I was hooked and in 2005 I made the NZ Age Group Team for the Triathlon. In 2006 I took time out from sport. By 2009 I was struggling to do anything in the way of activity that lasted longer than 20 to 30 minutes, without the need for my reliever inhaler. After having a lot of time off (three to four years) I was 25kg heavier and much older. I realised then my triathlon training had helped me take control of my asthma in a way no other sport had ever done. I knew I had to get back into it, which meant I had to build up my training slowly and steadily.

Successful management of asthma has been a lifestyle choice. I know it works.

Given how severe my asthma is, it’s crucial I manage myself well. Additionally, the sport I do has me actively engaging with asthma triggers on a daily basis. The key stages to my successful management have been:

  • Regular visits to my health practitioner (I used to go every six months but now I am down to yearly, which is an excellent sign that I am more in control of my asthma)
  • Undertaking tests to confirm what triggers my asthma. Some I class as core triggers (they trigger me no matter what), and the rest I class as secondary triggers (these can be managed by lifestyle and adaption)
  • Getting onto the right medication for my asthma
  •  Ensuring I am taking my preventative as prescribed
  • Constantly monitoring to understand what I feel like when I require my blue inhaler, and observing what is going on with me and the environment when this occurs.

Successful management of asthma has been a lifestyle choice. I know it works, because when I choose to alter my lifestyle I see and feel the difference in my asthma. I am proof that no matter how severe your asthma condition is, there is a way to take back control of your asthma and your life.

Since 2013, it has been an up and down time for Alistair. The joy of a sister for their son, the passing of loved family members and a serious injury has meant training and racing had to take a back seat, which int turn affected his asthma. 2015-2016 has seen regularity return, and now injury free, the next year promises to be a big one for Alistair, with his sights set on returning to Ironman New Zealand in March 2017, as well as other build-up marathons and Triathlons.

Alistair "Ironman for Asthma" generously fundraises for our Foundation, as well as raising awareness of asthma in the community. For more information on Alistair and how to support him, visit his Ironman for Asthma Facebook page or his TriCharity page.

Next race:  IMNZ – Saturday 4th March 2017.
More dates TBC.

If you or someone you know with a respiratory condition has a story to share, please email and you could be featured here too!

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