I’ve been a runner ever since the 6th grade when I first signed up for track and field, an after-school program held during the springtime. A large portion of my middle school, which encompassed grades 6th-8th, participated in after-school track. So much of the school, in fact, that we used to joke and call it ‘social hour’ instead of track. (was that even a joke?)
It was a little bit of both--social hour mixed with running. Who would have guessed that middle schooler kids would enjoy chasing each other around in a field after school everyday? ;) Let’s just say it had a lot of kids interested in getting regular physical activity when a lot of kids are getting into playing video games all day and I say that’s a good thing!
I played soccer for a number of years growing up--so track was not my first rodeo running in circles outside. I left both track and soccer behind when I started high school but I continued to run on my own. Also with high school came tobacco use. I began smoking regularly at the age of 14.
It started with Swisher Sweets here and there, almost always shared with a couple girlfriends. Grape has always been my favorite flavor so that’s what we’d get. We’d say we ‘never inhaled’. What’s the big deal? Then, at a party once, I had run out of cigars and a friend offered me a Marlboro 27. What’s the big deal? I thought.
As high school continued I smoked more cigarettes and I also ran more. 3-4 miles each run, three to four times a week. By the peak of my running & smoking career, I was running 5 miles a day about 5 days a week and smoking over a pack a day.
Every time I completed a run my body felt extremely unstable and a bit...frightening. I couldn't catch my breath for a number of minutes and my heart would be beating out of my chest. I’d sometimes almost feel like I was going to have a heart attack as I cooled down and tried to catch my breath. But as someone who likes to push myself I thought..what’s the big deal? I continued to smoke and run like this for a couple years.
By age 20, after unsuccessfully trying to quit smoking a handful of times, I decided to give vaping a try. Vaping was the first thing that ever actually ‘worked’ in my fight to give up tobacco. The more I vaped the less and less I wanted cigarettes.
Taste buds grew back that I didn’t realize had been missing and cigarettes began to taste like sh*t. My minty flavored vape sure tasted much better than my burnt-smoke tasting tobacco menthol cigarettes. Within a month and a half, I lost my desire to smoke cigarettes completely. I didn’t touch another cigarette for 4 ½ years.
Fast forward to 2016--it was an eventful year. The world had been a happening place with stress being felt by many Americans nationwide from all walks of life. One night I found myself a couple beers in with a broken ecig and a nicotine craving. I was offered a cigarette to share with a friend. I thought..what’s the big deal?
Running had become much easier in the past few years ever since I quit smoking. My lungs had come back at what felt like full capacity. I no longer struggled to catch my breath after a run nor drastically strain my body the way I used to when I was a smoker.
I started having a few more cigarettes here and there. What’s the big deal? I thought...it’s not like it was before...one every so often won’t hurt!! I didn’t notice right away, the extra huffing and puffing I had been doing to keep up with my fellow runners at the runners club I attend each Friday. The smoke and tar snuck up on my lungs insidious and slow.
It wasn’t until I decided that even just a few cigarettes every so often was a poor choice..and the stopped having them all together (again) that I realized just what large effect that little amount of cigarettes was actually having on my body. And how quickly I felt better once I stopped.
I think a lot of smokers keep smoking because they’re usually also not runners, ha. And by that I mean they don’t notice the adverse health effects from tobacco right away. It can take a number of years to creep up. As a runner or someone who does cardiovascular activities often...you notice this change in lung capacity quickly. I was shocked to realize how fast I was self-sabotaging myself with such a little amount of tobacco.
Even though numerous studies have proven vaping to be significantly less harmful than smoking cigarettes, and ex-smokers remark on how much their health has improved since switching to vaping, unfair bias dominate the media and continue to spread lies to the masses.
The vaping community is full of ex-smokers who felt horribly trapped in their tobacco addiction. Folks who feel they finally have happily found a way out. Vaping has been an effective alternative for people like them and people like myself. It’s changed our lives and health for the better.
With my cigarette days behind me I can finally run (and breathe) like the wind! I am actually racing in the Chicago triathlon this upcoming August and Smokeless Smoking is sponsoring my slot!! I’m participating in the International length which is 0.9mile swim, a 24.8 mile bike ride, followed by a 6.2 mile run...whew! Happy to run with clear lungs and happy to run for my favorite vape shop: Smokeless Smoking.
Jordyn Kromminga is a creative content writer and adventure seeker on a budget. She's known for cultivating impactful posts across a wide array of industries. Jordyn is a major gym rat who enjoys getting arts and crafty