Training Tuesdays: allergies & exercise

I was cocky when Spring first rolled in. My colleagues at work were all complaining about their allergies and I was full-on flaunting my clear nasal passages, so sure that I had escaped seasonal allergies.  How could I have been so foolish?  Naturally the universe wasn’t going to let that kind of hubris slide. Sure enough, May rolled around and suddenly the seasonal allergies descended on me. And here they have stayed. For over a month. Dare I say that both me and my nasal passages are very, very unimpressed.

Suddenly, I found my energy for workouts waning, slightly mind you, but noticeably enough that I was annoyed. I’d been on a good roll with momentum and I was not going to let pesky pollen derail me. I started Googling to see if my allergies were, in fact, getting in the way of my exercise mojo, and I was shocked to find that the so-called experts claimed that exercise would actually help my allergies.  Apparently research shows that exercise alleviates allergy symptoms. To this I say: LIES! My own experience of exercising with allergies is threefold:

1. Sure, exercise helps in the moment.  When I’m kicking ass on the spin bike or running up stairs, my body is using all of its resources to not die. Then you have to deal with the aftermath…

2. …which is that all of the allergens are now clinging to you because you are sweaty and, by virtue of the sweat, your pores are open for little bits of pollen to make themselves at home (sidenote: I am not at all claiming that this is scientifically true. I know virtually nothing of science, but it seems plausible enough that it’s become my theory).  The second your workout is over, you’re nothing more than a resting ground for every allergen out there. An immediate post-workout shower and wardrobe change is absolutely critical to ward off hours of congestion and sneezing. And even that has not always been enough for me.

3. Benefits of exercise are limited to strenuous exercise. If you’d like proof, I’ll invite you to join me on a hike, where the ascent spares me any allergy symptoms, but where the descent will have me sneezing and blowing my nose so much so that I will burn my way through an entire travel-sized packet of tissues. That is no way to hike, my friends. All the charms of nature are lost when you’re in the throes of multiple, large-scale sneezing fits.

No matter how you slice it, one thing is clear: allergies suck. Here’s to pollen finally taking a hike and leaving me and workouts alone.

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Real Talk Thursday: non-drowsy is a lie

I haven’t suffered from seasonal allergies in years. Years. The last time I remember them being an issue was probably a decade ago, during a Spring when Mother Nature deposited a visible layer of pollen on my car every single day. Since then, sure I get the urge to sneeze here or there, but I haven’t had what I consider to be seasonal allergies, nor have I needed to take antihistamines.

Until Monday.

In general, I’ve been sneezing a lot more this Spring than in years past but Monday, Monday is when the shit hit the fan. I went out to the valley for a hike, during which I was fine, but after which I started sneezing uncontrollably. By the time I got into my car after stretching, my nose was super congested. On the drive home, I had to blow my nose roughly every five minutes. Sorry, I know that’s gross. No one wants to read about nose blowing. I’ll move along. Five hours later, I couldn’t breathe through my nose at all, the skin around my nose was already raw from blowing it so often, and I continued to sneeze with a vengeance. I’d had enough.

I broke down and bought non-drowsy antihistamines, or so they claimed to be. After three days I have only one question: what are those things made of?????  For the last three days I have been beyond exhausted and my head a sea of fog. Sure, I can breathe, but what good is that when I can barely stay awake?  I took a two hour nap Tuesday morning. I went to bed before 10pm the last two nights and, even though I sleep in until 7:30, I was still exhausted in the morning. Should this really be the cost of clear nasal passages?

I checked the package at least five times to make sure that I had, in fact, selected a non-drowsy variety (I had). This only heightened my level of irritation, so much so that, for quite possibly the first time in my life, I read the entire paper insert  that came with my antihistamines. Let me tell you, that is not an engaging read.  But lo and behold, what did I find deep in a sea of dry, medical terminology? This: “[undisclosed brand name] is non-drowsy…however, some people can experience drowsiness” followed by this: “the most common side effects…are headache, sleepiness and dry mouth.”  Ah yes, the classic “non-drowsy” medication that may cause drowsiness, why didn’t I think of that before taking them? I suspect this is the case with many drugs, which is precisely why I don’t usually take them and why I never, ever read their fine print. Suffice it to say, I was not impressed.

Thankfully today’s rain seems to have sufficiently settled whatever nasty allergens were stirred up earlier this week. Still, even if the sun returns tomorrow, I think I’m done with supposedly non-drowsy allergy meds for now.