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  • Writer's picturecoachmk

#FuckSpring Part 1: Ozone Edition

Updated: Jul 21, 2021

“…At ground level, ozone is a health hazard for all of us. Those who are active and exercising outdoors may experience breathing difficulties and eye irritation.Prolonged exposure may result in reduced resistance to lung infections and colds. Ozone can also trigger attacks and symptoms in individuals with pre-existing conditions, like asthma...”  - from the Ozone Aware website

Ground Layer Ozone GLO runners lungs

There are two big reasons to #fuckspring.  The first, Pollen, is discussed here:!topic/fitness-protection-program/gj86dIl2gwg

The second is Ozone.  Ground-layer/Ground-level Ozone (GLO for short) to be specific.  

“Good Up High, Bad Nearby”

You’ve heard of the ozone layer. It’s way up high (stratosphere!), we can’t see it but we know it’s there because 6th grade science class, and we also know that talking about it leads nowhere good in the current political climate.  LUCKY FOR YOU WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT OZONE!  YAY YOU ARE WELCOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ground-level ozone (GLO) is not the same thing.  It is a harmful pollutant that is formed when emissions from everyday items combine with other pollutants and “cook” in the heat and sunlight.  GLO can cause the muscles in the airways to constrict, trapping air in the alveoli. This leads to wheezing and shortness of breath.  Ever heard of smog?  Smog is mostly GLO.  On hazy days you can actually see it.

No one is immune to GLO.  Your best bet is to be prepared.  The EPA measures air quality throughout the country and publishes the results in the Air Quality Index (AQI).  I’m not going to go into the analysis and tracking in detail, it’s dense.  Just trust: GLO sux.  If you wanna know more, check the links below or ask The Google. 

I know, it’s another thing to monitor.  Sorry.  Lucky for you, your tax dollars make it easy to passively track local AQI changes! 

EnviroFlash is a system that sends e-mails about your daily air quality forecast. You can play with the settings to only send messages on days when counts are high or are predicted to be high.   Click here to receive warnings in your area:

“Ok, Wadoidoo now?”

From now until June, you need to monitor both the local pollen and AQI forecasts daily.   On days when these figures are predicted to be high, your best bet is to run as early in the morning as you can, as this is when the two figures will be lowest.  If your workout doesn’t go well, if your legs feel heavy and your lungs feel like they are struggling to expand, move your workout inside if you can.  

If you want to continue outside or cannot get to a gym, that’s cool just don’t let the workout results get to you.  This is yet another reason why pace on easy days just doesn’t matter; if smog slows you down 3 minutes/mile, that says nothing about you or your fitness level and you cannot let it get to you. 

I’ll beat you up when it’s time to do that.  I promise it is coming.  Until then, go easy on yourself.  Spring is tough, you are tougher. 

Specific Resources:

Coach MK Fleming is the founder of Fitness Protection, LLC where she coaches all kinds of runners for $29 per month and gives marathon plans away for free. Click here to download her most popular training plan, Tenacious AF!

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