Finally, winter is behind us. The snow has melted and the temperatures have risen, and it’s finally — finally — warm enough to take your run from the treadmill to the trail. But with the warmer weather comes another foe: seasonal allergies. And they’re ready to wreck havoc on a runner’s training session.
If you’re seeing the day’s pollen count rise, and feel the stuffiness and sneezing incoming, don’t let that sideline your running schedule. Just because you’re prone to allergies doesn’t mean all of your spring running must be done indoors.
Follow these steps to make your run as sneeze-free as possible:
1. Schedule your run around pollen counts
In the early mornings, from around sunrise to about 10 AM, pollen counts are highest. If you’re a fan of morning runs, you might want to reconsider and reschedule them for the afternoons or early evenings when the pollen is much lower.
2. Take your medication wisely
For many of us allergy sufferers, antihistamines (a common way to fight allergies whether you’re headed for a workout or not) are key, and that doesn’t go away when it’s also race training season. But you have to time it wisely to avoid any possible drowsiness side effects. Taking oral medication — like Allegra or Claritin — at least two hours before the start of your run makes the dosage most effective if you typically take medication when your symptoms first appear.
3. Gear up
Just like if it’s raining or the sun is shining brightly, you need to be prepared for allergy season. Bring a hat that can keep possible contaminants out of your eyes — tree pollen can be falling around you, especially if you run in grassy areas like a park. A bandana, wrapped around your nose and mouth, may also be helpful by keeping pollen away.
4. Go slower
The harder you run, the harder you breathe, and the more you may inhale pollen. On higher pollen count days, keep your intensity and mile times lower and run at a steady, still-able-to-talk, pace.
5. Clean up ASAP
That goes for your clothes and you. The longer you let pollen linger on your outfit and your skin, the more irritating it can be. Once you finish your cool down, hit the shower and toss your running clothes in the wash.
If your allergies are keeping you from running or any physical activity, head to an allergist to really determine which of the outside factors is causing your reactions.