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Interview with Russell Winwood (COPD Athlete)

Interview with Russell Winwood (COPD Athlete)

Russell Winwood of took some time to talk with about himself and his journey with COPD.

What is your name and your diagnosis?

My name is Russell Winwood I have severe COPD.

How long have you been dealing with COPD?

I was diagnosed seven years ago in 2011.

Interview with Russell Winwood (COPD Athlete)

How did your COPD diagnosis affect your exercise routine?

Initially I was too sick to exercise and spent most of my days sleeping. The fatigue associated with my COPD was hard to deal with as I’d been active in the past. Not being able to do what I use to do definitely made me feel depressed. Eventually I forced myself to start walking and building my exercise capacity. It was difficult at first but the more I walked the better I started to feel. Before I knew it, I was doing some form of exercise every day, short walks become long walks.

Why did you decide to continue participating in marathons after your diagnosis?

I had not competed in a marathon before I was diagnosed, I was active and enjoyed cycling and triathlons. I wasn’t quick because of my asthma but I enjoyed how exercise made me feel. I became involved in marathons as I saw it as a way to improve my quality of life while raising funds and awareness for COPD. I became addicted after my first marathon in New York. Now I have completed the New York, London and Boston marathons and have raised tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

What made you want to create a blog and tell your story?

I wanted to share my experiences and how I manage my disease in the hope it would help other patients improve their quality of life. I never thought when I first started COPD Athlete it would evolve into what it has.

What has been your favorite response to your blog or articles?

I’m not sure I have a particular favourite. I receive messages from patients telling me I have inspired them to go out and be more active and by doing this they are feeling better. Recently I have had a huge response to the nutritional strategies I use, patients who have adopted these strategies message me about the improvements they have felt. It’s a joy to know I’m helping some patients.

Interview with Russell Winwood (COPD Athlete)

What advice do you have for community members who would like to start exercising?

Find an activity you like, if you like it you will be more inclined to keep doing it. Start slowly and build your exercise capacity. Finally, be consistent. The benefits of exercise will only last while you continue to be active, it needs to become part of your lifestyle and not just something you do occasionally.

What advice do you have for those in the community who are very late stage and have trouble moving?

Look at your nutrition. What we eat can play a major role in how we feel. I have spoken to doctors who have been able to improve a patient’s quality of life just by changing their diet. Changing your diet may just improve your symptoms enough to allow you to become mobile again. Never stop fighting!


  • jjcollings
    1 year ago

    I have trouble believing someone with severe COPD is running marathons. Yes i know the benefits of exercise and diet , but running 26 miles i have to call b.s. I have had COPD for 4 years and been on oxygen for 1.5 years so i walk evey day and feel great after. But its a super slow pace and is only for an hour. I would be open to find out how to get my fitness up from here. This wedsite is amazing and very informative. I just thought this article seemed a little out there. #nevergiveup

  • Russell Winwood moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi jjcollings,

    I understand some people having trouble with the concept of running marathons with severe COPD. However, I was not the first patient to do this and I will not be the last. Mike McBride completed the Boston marathon in 2009 pushing oxygen tanks in a home made trolley. Roxlyn Cole at the age of 80 still competes in stair climbs with severe COPD.

    My ability to run marathons comes from years of hard work and a training and nutritional program designed for me by healthcare professionals and my coach. I applaud you for getting out and walking everyday as being sedentary is the worst thing a patient can do.

    I posted my lung function results on my website 2 years ago and encourage people to print it and show their doctor if they need convincing.

    There are many patients pushing the limits and doing amazing things. Patients who don’t exercise at all would look at your example and think, no way could I walk everyday.

    Have a wonderful day!

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi jjcollings and thanks for your post. Remember, COPD affects everyone differently and. although I cannot speak on behalf of Russell Winwood, there must be more details (than appear in the interview) regarding his marathon capabilities. I was curious myself as to the specifics as to how he completes the marathons he participates in.
    We appreciate your kind words and it’s gratifying to hear how much value you find in our website. Thanks for being part of our online community.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

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