One of my clients once told me that if you do not like the weather here in New England wait five minutes. Well that could be no truer than this past week. We hit 60 degrees for a couple days giving us the hope of an early Spring, only to see on the first day of Spring that lo and behold Old Man Winter had one last little trick up his sleeve. Thankfully we will be getting back to more mild temperatures by midweek here in the Northeast. With those warmer temperatures allergies will begin to spring up (pun intended). I don’t need to check the pollen counts as I will be able to see in my daughter’s watery eyes, hear the tickly coughs, etc, that we are at the beginning of allergy season. By midweek here, the allergens are supposed to be the highest they have been since the Fall. This will begin to be an especially tough time of the year for many runners, cyclists, walkers, and anyone else that enjoys exercising outdoors or being outdoors. Once again this is a topic I pay close attention to as I mentioned in my Asthma blog post.
You can opt to skip your planned workout or workout indoors and miss out on the sun and the Vitamin D you have been missing all Winter. But rather than choose not to exercise (especially if you do not have the ability to workout indoors) you need to be prepared to adapt to the situation so a lack of training or exercising should not be an option. What you need to do is create a game plan on how you will be fighting these allergens.
Step 1-Know Your Enemy Know what you are particularly allergic to. Seeing an allergist truly helps if allergies are severe enough. We were able to get my daughter tested and know her specific allergies, which really makes it easier to combat.
Step 2-Keep an eye on the pollen counts. Once you know what triggers your allergies you can track them. My wife and I use an app like Pollen.com to see which allergens are most prevalent at the time. I am sure there are other apps, but Pollen.com works great for us so I never needed any other one.
Step 3-Have a Treatment plan- Using an anti-histamine may help. Also after your workout outside, you should try flushing your nose out with a saline spray to help clear out the pollen. Showering as soon as you get in after your outdoor workout to get the pollen off your body and out of your hair will help too. You should get your clothes off and into the washing machine as quickly as possible after your workout to get the pollen off your clothes that would have been picked up during your activity. This way the pollen does not collect in your chairs, carpets, pillows, etc, and makes your home a safe haven from the outside irritants.
Step 4-Have alternatives-Most pollens reach peak levels around noon or the early afternoon. If possible try working out in the morning or the evening. If the pollen levels are just too high, try to opt for a treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike workout. Try to be flexible with your training and use the high pollen day for a strength training day, and if possible save the outdoor activity for after a rainfall, when pollen counts usually drop. Lastly, if you are a runner or another type of endurance athlete try going for a swim, if you have access to a pool, as swimming is a great cross training activity.
These higher pollen counts we have coming do make it truly tough for those with allergies. Having a plan in place could really help. I hope the above outline helps you not only avoid horrible allergies, but also helps you avoid missing any workout time.
Note: For those of you with asthma, please read the asthma blog post linked above, for a warm-up protocol that can help with avoided an asthma attack.