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Runners' Dilemma: Running Safely during Wildfire Smoke Advisories

As runners, we're no strangers to pushing through obstacles, but when wildfires bring smoke into the picture, it's time to make adjustments. This blog will show you how to modify your running safely during wildfire smoke advisories. In this blog post, we'll guide you on how to maintain your running routine while staying safe amidst poor air quality advisories.

Stay Informed

Before you set off on your running adventures, make sure you're armed with the latest air quality updates. Stay tuned to local authorities, check out air quality apps, and become best friends with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website. Knowing the Air Quality Index (AQI) categories will help you decipher the smoke signals and plan your runs accordingly.

Time Your Runs Wisely

Plan your workouts to coincide with times when air quality tends to be better. Typically, air quality is better in the morning or evening when the air is cooler and winds might be stronger. Avoid running during peak heat hours, as higher temperatures can worsen the effects of poor air quality.

Modify Your Training Routine

When air quality is poor, it's important to make adjustments to your training regimen. Consider the following modifications:

  • Reduce intensity: Opt for easier runs or cross-training activities to avoid exerting yourself excessively.

  • Shorten your runs: Cut back on mileage to minimize the duration of exposure to smoky conditions. Or break up your long run on the treadmill into different segments.

  • Choose alternative locations: If possible, find areas with better air quality, such as indoor tracks, treadmills, or gyms.

Protect Your Airways

To reduce the impact of smoky conditions on your respiratory system, take the following precautions:

  • Wear a mask: Use a specifically designed to filter fine particles, such as N95. Ensure it fits properly. Studies indicate that an N95 mask does not significantly reduce sports performance, but some runners report discomfort and elevated body temperatures. Therefore wearing a mask for daily activities and taking your workout indoors may be preferable.

  • Breathe through your nose: Nasal breathing helps filter and humidify the air before it reaches your lungs.

  • Use air filters: Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters in your home to improve indoor air quality.

Hydrate and Nourish

Smoke and ash can lead to dehydration and increased free radical damage. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Consume a nutrient-rich diet with antioxidant-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support your immune system.

Listen to Your Body

Be attentive to any signs of discomfort or adverse health effects while running in smoky conditions.

Symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, or lightheadedness should not be ignored. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.

Additionally, each runner is unique and if you have pre-existing health conditions, it is important to reach out to your physician to consult what measures are best for you!

While maintaining your training routine is important, your health should always take precedence. When faced with smoky conditions due to wildfires, it's crucial to assess the air quality, modify your training, protect your airways, and prioritize your well-being. By following these guidelines, you can continue your running journey while minimizing the risks associated with poor air quality. Stay safe, be informed, and adjust your training as needed to ensure a healthy and consistent running experience.

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