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Allergy Tips for Sneezy Striders

Try these tips to run toward, not away from the springy conditions outside. (Photo courtesy of

Last week's long run was a 12-miler for me, just a mile shy of the race distance coming up! Having a successful 11-mile run the week before I had pretty high hopes, which were then promptly squashed about 3 miles in. I just wasn't feeling it - my legs felt heavy (I've been slacking on my strength training), I was dehydrated and found myself stopping quite a bit to catch my breath and stretch. Even though I wasn't having the best run of my life, I was far better off than the other runners in the park who were having sneezing and wheezing fits due to springtime allergies. My legs may occasionally feel like lead, but I am thankful I don't suffer from allergies, because quite frankly they look like a buzz kill! Even though my nose is intact, yours might not be so lucky. So I got some tips from Dr. William Berger, M.D. and author of the book Allergies and Asthma for Dummies for runners who suffering from allergies. Below, his suggestions:

  1. Pollen counts are higher in the early morning. Run later in the day if you can for easier breathing. (Note: Because of the mild winter, Dr. Berger says pollen has appeared earlier this year, meaning this could potentially be the worst allergy season in a decade. Eeks!)
  2. Take nasal antihistamines or your usual allergy meds on a regular basis, even on days you don't plan to run. Sticking with a consistent dosage will help regulate symptoms better than if you take them only as needed.
  3. Antihistamines help with sneezing, but not congestion. Try MyPurMist, a portable steam inhaler that serves as a nasal decongestant. It uses warm mist to soothe irritated tissues in the nose and throat. You can use it as often as needed and it won't interact with any other allergy meds you're taking.
  4. If your allergies trigger asthma while running (and you've already taken your inhaler 15 to 20 minutes prior to exercising), breath through your nose instead of your mouth. The moisture in your nose will help ease the attack. If you find your asthma is flaring up consistently, try swimming. The moist environment of the pool is better for treating symptoms.
  5. Take a shower before bed. This will clean off any pollen you may have picked up throughout the day.

Now tell me:  What are your tips to beating allergies while running?