Running With Allergies

Spring is a great season for running. It often means enjoying beautiful weather before the summer heat arrives. But for some runners, springtime also brings sneezes and sniffles.

Seasonal allergies can send runners back to the treadmill, or worse, back to bed on these nice sunny days. Making some minor adjustments to your training schedule and taking good care of yourself can help you enjoy running during these months.

A general guide for runners to follow when they are not feeling well is the "neck rule." If your allergy symptoms are above the neck, such as stuffy or runny nose and sneezing, it's probably OK to run. However, if you are exhibiting any symptoms below the neck, like chest congestion, upset stomach, or body aches, then it's time to call for a rest day. Never, ever run with a fever. If you have a temperature higher than 99 degrees, skip your workout.

Even if your symptoms are above the neck and mild, remember that they could still be making your workouts feel a little tougher. Sinus congestion can make it difficult to get a good night's sleep. If you're not feeling well enough to eat, your diet may not be as healthy as usual. All of this could result in not-so-good workouts.

Here are some steps you can take to minimize your seasonal allergy symptoms and the havoc they are wreaking on your training schedule:

Pollen counts tend to be highest in the early morning, so if you are used to running as soon as you get up, you may want to wait until later in the day. Track local pollen counts on sites such as, and pay attention to the days when you feel the worst.

Everyone's reaction to pollen is a little different.  You may notice that you are more sensitive to a certain type of pollen, and it will help you determine the pollen count level when you start noticing symptoms. Avoid running outside on windy days as the wind helps spread the pollen throughout the air.

After running, take a shower and change clothes as soon as you get inside to minimize your contact with the pollen. If itchy eyes are a problem, try wrap-around sunglasses, use eye drops, and change your pillowcases daily to minimize symptoms. Of course, if a doctor has prescribed allergy medication, use it on a regular basis as directed.

Remember, even if your symptoms are caused by "just allergies," they can still make you feel tired and stressed. Avoid running outside when you are worn out as this can actually increase your susceptibility to a more severe allergic reaction.  At times, the best solution will be to take your workout inside to the treadmill. But by minimizing your symptoms, you can look forward to a few more beautiful springtime runs.

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Keep allergies under control when training for your next running event.

Dallas Running Examiner Sara Johnson is an RRCA-certified running coach who has been running for more than ten years. is the inside source for everything local. Powered by Examiners, the largest pool of knowledgeable and passionate contributors in the world, we provide unique and original content to enhance life in your local city wherever that may be.

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