Running and body-fluids go together like sparkles and glue. There’s sweat, obviously (oh Mylanta, there is sweat everywhere. Even between my shoulder blades). Occasionally I find myself with watery eyes depending on what is in the air or what This American Life I’m listening to. Of course, there’s the fluids/functions that really aren’t for the masses. And there is snot.
I’ve noticed my nose’s predilection for dribbling during a walk, run or swim for quite some time and have attempted to fix the problem by ignoring my nasal cavity completely. In true Runner’s Delight style though, my curiosity bested me and I had to delve into research regarding the mysterious nose “sweat” as one might call it were one feeling a bit sassy yet ladylike.
So, the runner’s nose is not uncommon. In fact, it’s so prevalent that simply hunting down “why does my nose run when I exercise?” garners enough Google hits to keep me up to my eyeballs in mucus-memories and snotball stories. There is even a scientific sounding name that pops up in answer to this question: exercise-induced rhinitis. Ooo! Science!
Symptoms of exercise-induced rhinitis are simple, according to FitSugar: if you’ve got extreme mucus madness fizzling around your nose and throat, a swarthy amount of lung butter, extra sneezes and watery eyes when busting out vigorous exercise indoors or outside, you’ve got yourself runner’s nose.
Now that we know what this rhino-runner is, it’s time to talk about the why’s. There are a few answers. From Livestrong.com, we’re told that “Various triggers irritate the nasal membranes, causing an episode of exercise-induced rhinitis…irritants in the air, odors or weather changes while running…environmental irritants like dust, smog, humidity and temperature [indoors and outdoors]”. So your sniffer’s issue may very well be an external influence. If you’re not a chronic slimer, jot down what the weather was like when you run, or where you were. You should be able to pinpoint your personal triggers and help yourself skip the snotting.
There’s another answer as to why as reported by Runner’s World a few years ago. Dimitry McDowell reports, “exercise-induced rhinitis, is most likely due to the increased air flow; as your breathing rate increases, your nose kicks into hyperactivity. ‘Cool and dry air—or both—have been shown to increase secretions, similar to what we see in exercise-induced asthma,’ says James Sublett, M.D., allergist and professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky.” Yup. Your schnoz reacts to air. More air = uber productive nasal-land.
Finally, just know you’re not alone. So many people experience the runner’s nose that the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology surveyed 164 exercisers and found that 40 percent had a runny nose while exercising inside, and 56 percent had one outside. It’s not just me. And it’s not just you.
All these things, while perhaps uncomfortable, are thankfully not going to make or break an amateur athlete’s abilities. And besides, you have options. If you’re not sure how to cope with your raucous rhino-dilemma, here’s a quick break down of what you can do from easiest to more complicated:
- Distraction! View this, think of it when your nose runs, and become so scared your nose forgets to swell.
- Your Shirt! This is my preferred method – I wipe anything that leaks on my shirt. It’s not classy, but it gets the job done.
- Tissue! You’ve got to remember to bring it, but stuffing some in your sports bra (not like that!) or in your waistband works well. Just don’t blow and throw.
- Snot-Rockets! For the sake of my mother, I’m not going to describe this. Read about them here. Do NOT be tempted into watching a video of them if you intend on eating again this month.
- Pills Pills Pills! Allergy medicine can assist in giving you some nasal reprieve, but you have to remember to take it.
- Nose Bulb! Usually used for babies, pulling all the wet-stuff out of your cute little button can help ensure your nose stays dry.
Good luck out there, fellow snot-raconteurs.