You get up early in the morning and head out the door for your morning run. You can't leave without a pack of tissues in your pocket or sports bra because you know the second you get in your groove the dripping is going to start. You dread running in cold weather because that makes it worse, but then again so does allergy season. You may have even invested in a Handana so that you can keep your gloves and sleeves from being covered in snot. Why does my nose think it's okay to run when my feet are?
This is a condition called exercise-induced rhinitis and is more common in those with allergies than those without allergies according to a 2006 study. Unfortunately, many decongestants and steroids used to treat rhinorrhea are prohibited for use in competition. You might remember the 2000 Olympics in Sydney when a gymnast had her gold medal stripped because she basically took a Sudafed for a cold that was given to her by the team doctor. Basically, a common cold pill ruined the careers of two people.
Why exactly does this happen? Well, physical exercise is a vasoconstrictor. This means that when you exercise, the muscular walls of your blood vessels are contracting and your systemic blood pressure is increasing. Noradrenaline releases into the blood stream and your nasal resistance decreases.
Cold-weather athletes are more likely to experience this condition. Actually, winter athletes have a greater incidence of exercise-induced rhinitis and asthma than summer athletes. I can speak from personal experience in this matter. During my childhood, I was a competitive figure skater. I was at the rink 3 hours a day 4 days a week. By the time I decided to end my skating career, I could not make a lap around the rink without having a coughing fit.
Stock up on the tissues, buy a Handana (I wish I had one), learn how to use a Neti Pot, find an athlete-legal decongestant and head out the door. Runny nose or not, exercise is good for you. Since I have small kids, I will end with this silliness: when your nose is runny you may think it’s funny, but it’s snot J