A familiar scene: You’re all laced up and ready to go, then suddenly it hits you. The sniffles. Itchy eyes. A scratchy throat. No, it’s not a cold; we’re talking running with allergies. Spring and summer are high time for allergies to creep up and intrude during what always feels like the most inconvenient moments—but those are also the best seasons for logging miles outside. The good news? You don’t need to hide inside watching Netflix to save yourself from seasonal misery. Here are some expert-backed dos and don’ts to help you crush your next outdoor workout while keeping allergies at bay.
DO: Make sure you’re dealing with an actual allergy.
A lot of the time, we think we know what’s going on with our bodies. Before you make an assumption, check in with a healthcare professional. “Every spring, millions of people seek out allergy relief through over-the-counter drugs without really knowing their diagnosis,” says Dr. Lakiea Wright, an internal medicine and allergy and immunology specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “But it can be life-changing when you finally know what’s really causing those problems with breathing, itching, rashes, or congestion.”
DO: Check a pollen tracker app.
“Plain and simple, if you are exercising outdoors, you are exposed to pollen. You don’t need to be right next to a tree—pollen can travel up to 50 miles,” says board-certified allergist and Flonase spokesperson Tania Elliott, MD. Running with allergies can be significantly more uncomfortable if you find yourself outside on a day where the pollen count is abnormally high. “Check a pollen tracker app and consider working out indoors on high pollen count days.” You can take your runs back outside when the pollen calms down.
DON’T: Wear your workout clothes for long once you get back inside.
When you come inside the home after exercising or running outside, you’ll want to take off your shoes right away—do not wear shoes in the house. “That can track in pollen,” says Elliot. “Take your clothes put them in the laundry basket or wash them right away to stay safe.” You'll want to take a quick shower ASAP, too, to wash off any lingering pollen in your hair or on your skin.
DON’T: Use beauty products pre-sweat.
Heading out to work out? Then skip out on the extra zhuzhing and stay away from hair products or other scented topicals. “With these, pollen can get stuck in your hair or on your body more easily,” says Elliot.
DO: Snag yourself some new sunglasses.
Running with allergies is always a struggle, but you can add a few pieces of gear to limit the amount of pollen affecting your system. Wearing a pair of active-friendly sunglasses can help prevent itchy, watery eyes, says Wright. Looking for yet another layer of protection? Wearing a bandana over your nose and mouth can limit the amount of pollen that makes its way into your respiratory passages.