Surviving hey fever for runners

The last few weeks have been absolutely gorgeous here in the U.K. And I am sure that we have all been getting out there (smothered in sunblock) to enjoy some warm weather running. Maybe too hot for some?

But if you are a hey fever sufferer then you might have been suffering particularly badly, with sky rocketing pollen levels. Running with hey fever is particularly problematic, often compounding “awkward” breathing with additional congestion. Not mention the eyes! So what’s to be done? This post offers you a few suggestions that I have come across which you may find helpful.

Top tips for running with hey fever and living to tell the tail:

  • Don’t delay getting into the shower after your run. Pollen will be sticking to your clothes, skin (particularly when it’s damp with sweat) and hairGet rid of it as soon as possible by showering and then putting your running kit in the wash.
  • Generally, pollen counts are highest in the early art of the morning (between 05:00 and 10:00 am). As the air temperature rises they tend to drop, but will usually rise again in the evening as the temperature drops. Think about dropping the morning and evening runs during the pollen season and maybe heading out at lunchtime instead. If you do this though, give extra consideration to your distance and effort as you will be in the hottest part of the day.
  • Bit of an old wives tale maybe, but eating locally produced honey and drinking nettle tea, apparently builds immunity to pollen. Consuming a teaspoon of honey a day is thought to be enough to build up a natural defence to the local pollen that you will be charging through on your runs.
  • You could experiment with a low histamine diet. Apparently some foods are naturally high in histamine so cutting them down temporarily may prevent cumulative overload on the body. Also stay on top of your hydration post run, particularly drink plenty of water as the body produces histamine in order to stop water loss.
  • Avoid running on windy days as the wind whips up the pollen. A good alternative would be to do some cross training indoors (perhaps swim?) instead.
  • Run after it rains. The rain will dampen the pollen down so this can be a great time to run. The temperature is likely to have dropped a bit too.
  • When running protect your eyes from pollen by wearing wrap around sunglasses. Possibly less thought of is to put vaseline up your nose to keep pollen from getting up there too.

But the best bit of advice I can offer is to take a LOT of tissues with you or when the above tips fail miserably 😉