Running the Yellow Brick Road

Ahh the beauty of Atlanta in spring! Flowers blooming, temperatures rising and birds singing. It’s like our city is covered in the very existential glow of life!

Cough*Sneeze*Cough. Unfortunately, that glow is yellow… and less Wizard of Oz, more miserable.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (good avoidance technique?), you know that our area pollen count is record-breaking and making breathing and normal living downright tough. Coinciding with the Easter season doesn’t help – I feel like my car was sat on by a giant yellow Peep. It seems we’ve survived the worst of it, but we’re not out of the woods yet. (Get it – Woods?! Pine tree pollen?! Yes? No? Ahem…)

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time finding motivation to get out my front door for a run when I know the next 40-70 minutes might just asphyxiate me. Regardless we’ve got to get out there and and start training – yellow tornados notwithstanding. Our Peachtree legs will not prepare themselves if we buy into excuses and wait for perfect outdoor conditions.

Just shy of doing a rain dance and hoping the yellow crust on our city is washed away, here are some other tips for combatting the invasive yellow monster while training:

1. Time is of the essence. Take any allergy medications at least one hour before running. Most importantly, if you’re taking these medications…

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Pick your poison – Zyrtec, Claritin or Sudafed are all medications that will work wonders, yet dry out your system faster than the lovely drought of Aught-Seven. Typically we need to drink 8-12 cups of water/fluid a day… more if you’re taking medication and exercising a lot.

3. Sunglasses aren’t just for Bono anymore. Protect yourself with glasses while running - they’ll keep feisty pollen particles away from your eyes.

4. Cover up. Use a bandana, Buff, or other such product to tie across your nose and mouth while running. You really won’t look as funny as you think.

5. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Take a shower immediately after returning inside. Pollen accumulates on our skin, our hair, everywhere. Avoid touching your face or rubbing your eyes until you’ve washed your hands after being outside.

6. Escape to clean air. You can always avoid pollen inside the gym. Take time to crosstrain by swimming, biking, rowing, taking a class, etc. if you’re not in the mood for the treadmill.  

I’m hoping that yesterday’s Earth Day present to Atlanta will be better air and easy breathing in the coming days. Looks like we have some storms on tap for the weekend to wash away the dust as well. (Good news for pollen sufferers, not so good news for fellow concertgoers headed to the Earth Day Birthday show on Sunday).

Anyone else have trade secrets in pollen survival to share?

2 comments Add your comment


April 24th, 2010
10:00 am

I’m not a pollen sufferer but I still try to avoid running on those days when it fills the air. I’ve got a treadmill in my basement that I use often, especially on really cold days. I’ve also taken to open water swimming. The pollen will sometimes pool of the lake surface but it sure beats breathing it into your lungs and swimming gives my legs time to recover. All that said, you can’t substitute a run outside on a nice spring day.


April 25th, 2010
10:23 am

I couldn’t agree more. We’ve been biding our time through the coldest, rainiest winter we’ve had in a long time. I’ve been looking forward to the big blue skies and 70 degree spring weather runs way too much to let the pollen get in the way. Definitely want to enjoy our spring before the 90 degree, 80% humidity descends on us!