Pollen Allergies & Running

Another reason why I do not particularly like the prospect of moving my workout outdoors is that I do suffer from hayfever. Pollen allergies are quite commen, and I have spent my entire adolescent life and 20’s battling with coughing, sneezing, puffy eyes and general sore throat.

When I work, I am in a large room which is very well air conditioned, so I don’t generally suffer. Furthermore, my symptoms since moving to Scotland a few years ago are quite a bit less than when I lived in England. However, I do still experience a bit, and when I am at my phase of training, I need every last bit of my respiratory system to help me along. I can’t take tablets (they are banned in my line of work), so I need other methods to help.

I have been considering my first steps outside, like a well known deer, for quite a while, and have been researching how to battle my own issues to make the transition easier.

Bambi… or me?

My research has been quite fruitful, with many tips and tricks to help out. First of all, Fitness is a Way of Life tells me that by following a steady continuous sport such as running (rather than stop-start such as football), I am in with a good start. Also, changing bed linen and avoiding high pollen days are good second steps. The NHS add that by reducing stress and increasing exercise, symptoms will reduce too! This is a win-win as exercise does on the whole reduce stress, and running is definitely classed as exercise!

The Runner’s World forums offer a few other tips, including Olbas Oil on your top, wearing a buff over your nose and mouth, or vaseline around your nose and mouth. Furthermore, other methods of reducing the symptoms include running after a rainstorm, wearing wraparound sunglasses, showering immediately after finishing, or avoiding windy days.

My JogStyle suggests increasing the warmup time and reducing the intensity for those who suffer. By spending time getting your respiratory system used to the environment and the fact it will be exercising in it, you can reduce the effects on the body. The other option is to take your workout indoors on those days where the pollen is too high.

A few anecdotal treatments which I have tried with limited (but not absent) success are firstly, eating local honey. As local honey is made by bees using local pollen, a small resistance is developed over time, reducing the effects in high season. Furthermore, taking pollen tablets (available in health stores) can help in keeping the effects lower during the high season. I found that this worked very well during my teenage years, as the hayfever season fell precisely with exam times. I managed to get through most of my exams without looking like I was crying, so I would class that as a win!

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