Breathless run

Fighting COPD all the way to the finish line

Can you imagine becoming breathless every time you did the most mundane everyday tasks – getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, showering, eating breakfast?

That’s what happens to people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This progressive disease makes it hard to breathe because less air is able to flow in and out of the airways in our lungs.

My disease has taught me a lot about humility, about making every day count."


Russell Winwood

COPD has no cure, and doctors don't know how to reverse the damage to the airways and lungs¹. COPD symptoms include coughing, mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. You would think that people with COPD wouldn’t be marathon runners, right?

Wrong. Meet Russell Winwood. He was a heavy smoker until he suffered a stroke at age 36. Following this scare, Russell quit smoking, ate healthier food, and started exercising. For the next eight years he completed several triathlons and marathons.

In 2011, lung function tests confirmed that Russell had COPD. Yet, six months later, Russell completed his first full Ironman triathlon. So how does he continue to compete in endurance events around the world?
Firstly, he was determined that his diagnosis will not stop him from long distance running, an activity he loves. He has learnt that the fitter he gets, the more he can control his breathing. Secondly, although he doesn’t need supplementary oxygen full time, he does use the Philips SimplyGo Mini on occasion, for instance when traveling by plane.

Philips Respironics solutions provide people with COPD like Russell with oxygen when they need it.

Although Russell won’t be winning marathons any time soon, he doesn’t mind. He’s just happy to enjoy the journey to the finish line.


1. US Department of Health and Human Services: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Health - What Is COPD?

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