I hate speed work. I really do. Many people love speed work because it is more entertaining than just long slow distance (LSD). I know that I get faster overall when I do regular speed work. My marathon PR of 3:43 was when I was running speed work every week. But I live and breathe for LSD! I relax and get into my groove, and I am set for hours and hours.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been running 800s on Tuesdays. I run over to the high school (about a mile) run five 800s with a 400 in between each one. Then I run back to my house for my cool down. Next week I will add two more 800s to my workout.
Last Tuesday I was brutally reminded of one of the reasons I don’t like to run hard. I end up with a runny nose the rest of the day, like a faucet. I had a nagging feeling it was related to my allergies, so I took Claritin D. didn’t help. I took Benadryl. Didn’t help. I took Zyrtec. Didn’t help.
It happened again today but not quite as bad as last week and only one nostril. I know if I keep running speed on Tuesdays, it will stop. At least until I push harder then it will start back up again. I have no idea why this happens. I can go run a 30 mile run at a nine minute mile and my nose doesn’t run, but if I run six miles with 800s at a 6:30 I’m doomed.
So, I did what any sensible person does. I googled it. Whew, what a relief I am not alone in my suffering. I may have exercise-induced rhinitis. Sounds pleasant.
Forty percent of runners and other endurance athletes suffer from allergies. Only twenty percent of the general population does. Many runners who have allergies also have this exercise-induced rhinitis, but it can also strike those without allergies. It is believed to be triggered by pollution, specifically car exhaust. Other particles in the air also trigger it as well as dry and cold air.
The hypothesis is that because runners and other athletes spend more time outdoors they are more prone to allergies. I had a childhood free of allergies. I developed them during my second year of law school. They are the worst in the spring, but I have both indoor and outdoor allergies so I have to take an allergy pill year round.
An allergy pill is not going to fix this particular problem. A nasal spray called ipratroprium bromide is recommended, and if your lungs also become irritated, an albuterol inhaler is recommended before exercise.
I am a firm believer that pretty much anyone can be a runner. With enough patience and dedication you can figure out the reason why running hurts your knees, your foot, your whatever. So, in my mind, what it all comes down to is your personal drive and motivation. Your willingness to deal with being uncomfortable until your body adjusts. Get your little engine going and get up that hill.