A Runner’s Guide To Allergies

Spring is a beautiful season with blooming flowers, lush greenery, and perfect weather for outdoor activities like running. However, for many runners, spring also brings with it seasonal allergies that can be quite debilitating. If you're a runner who struggles with allergies during the spring season, here's a guide to help you manage your symptoms and keep running.

Understand the Symptoms
The first step to managing spring allergies is to understand the symptoms. Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, coughing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms while running or after spending time outside, it's likely that you have allergies.

Check the Pollen Count
Pollen is a major trigger for spring allergies, so it's important to check the pollen count before heading out for a run. Many weather apps and websites offer daily pollen counts for your area. If the pollen count is high, consider running indoors or at a different time of day when the pollen count is lower.

Take Medication
There are many over-the-counter and prescription medications available to treat allergies. Antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal corticosteroids are common allergy medications that can help reduce symptoms. Talk to your allergist about which medication is best for you, and be sure to take it as directed.

Protect Yourself
Wearing protective gear can help reduce your exposure to allergens. Consider wearing a face mask or bandana over your nose and mouth while running to filter out pollen and other allergens. You may also want to wear a hat or visor to keep pollen out of your hair and eyes. After your run, be sure to shower and change your clothes to remove any pollen that may be on your skin or clothing.

Avoid Allergens
If you know that you're allergic to a certain type of plant or tree, try to avoid running near those areas. For example, if you're allergic to oak pollen, avoid running on trails where oak trees are abundant. It's also a good idea to avoid running during peak pollen times, such as early in the morning or on windy days when pollen is more likely to be in the air.

Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is important for all runners, but it's especially important for those with allergies. Staying hydrated can help thin out mucus and reduce congestion. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and consider carrying a water bottle with you on your runs.

Listen to Your Body
Finally, it's important to listen to your body and know when to take a break. If you're feeling particularly fatigued or experiencing severe allergy symptoms, it may be best to skip your run for the day or exercise indoors . Resting and allowing your body to recover can help you avoid more serious allergy-related health issues.

In conclusion, spring allergies can be frustrating for runners, but with the right preparation and management strategies, you can continue to enjoy your runs during this beautiful season. By understanding your symptoms, checking the pollen count, taking medication, wearing protective gear, avoiding allergens, staying hydrated, and listening to your body, you can run with confidence and ease.

Pollen Seasons

  • Late March to end of May - Tree Pollen
  • Mid May to late June - Grass Pollen
  • Mid August to October - Fall Pollen

Avoid reactions...make yearly appointments with your allergist to find out what you are allergic to to prevent a serious reaction.

  • Some runners can go into anaphylactic shock during pollen season if their allergies are untreated.
  •  If you have a serious allergy to pollen...
    • Carry a cell phone with you while running
    • Inform a friend or family member of your running route
    • Talk to a physician about other precautionary steps you can take to avoid any issues with allergies

Early Spring & Fall are the worst time for runners with allergies because of the mixture of cold weather and pollen.

  • This combination can cause exercise-induced asthma.
    • Typically, after 5 to 10 minutes of vigorous exercise has stopped is when you will see symptoms (asthma or an anaphylactic reaction) triggered 
    • By wearing a face mask or putting a scarf over your mouth and nose, you can filtrate the air around you. This will also keep your mouth and nose from drying out. You can always run indoors on a treadmill, as well!

Talk to your allergist about what medication to take to control your allergies.

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