Image Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/be/Haze_obscuring_Marine_Parade.JPG
The running community in Singapore has been of late united by something else besides marathons and immense love for the sport - a shared disdain for hazy weather. As runners, we should exercise wisdom on whether we should head outdoors, and here are some facets to consider.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. In this case, awareness of the day’s PSI level is the power to save yourself from a coughing fit from exposure to respiratory hazards. You can check on the latest PSI levels and measure them against the recommended activity level.
For instance, in unhealthy PSI levels of 101-200, you could opt to reduce the time you spend intensively running outside; in what is considered a “hazardous” level of above 300, you might want to as much as possible minimise outdoor activity altogether.
Personal Health Condition
Even an acceptable range of PSI should not equate to completely disregarding any personal physical discomforts you may have. Everyone reacts differently to the haze after all. Do consider that in the short run, exposure to pollutants can cause respiratory symptoms or worsen existing heart and lung diseases, and also irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. Thus, you should consider if your body can withstand such exposure.
This means that your friend’s decisions to head outdoors shouldn’t be a benchmark for you to strive towards. If you feel strained after a while of running while your workout buddy seems fine and dandy, don't feel embarrassed to call it a day. As the old adage goes, better safe than bent over wheezing.
Visibility in Streets
Say you feel compelled to go for a run (remember your afternoon Cadbury snack?), and are willing to embrace the foggy elements with your fine pair of iron lungs. There might be another issue to consider - whether drivers can see you through the haze.
When the fumes are so thick that you can play a game of Marco Polo, you might want to consider staying home instead. This point may come across as negligible, but this might be precisely why it’s a mental blind-spot that could endanger your personal safety. This is especially relevant for runners who run along or near streets.
In choosing to run or not to in the event of hazy weather, what you can consider is whether prepping yourself for exercising outdoors can give you more assurance. While an image of yourself running while wearing a futuristic and state-of-the-art oxygen-supplied breathing mask may surface, the things you can equip yourself with are much simpler (and realistic, not to mention affordable).
As the air particles can cause irritation and dryness in the throat, you can carry a small water bottle in your fanny pack; you could also get a pair of sunglasses for running to reduce possible eye irritation and look stylishly cool.
Lastly, if you have a history of asthma, you might want to bring along your inhaler just in case the ailment acts up.
Availability of Alternative Workouts
Whenever dusty skies reign, the only marathons you would be joining might probably be Korean drama marathons. However, as tempting as spending all day in your man-cave/ she-shed binge-watching “Descendants of the Sun” episodes is, being indoors does not always limit you to a sedentary lifestyle.
You could consider indoor running, for instance. While some might find it dreary and uninspiring, it is a better alternative than nurturing a 'spare tire' at home.
During an inevitable hiatus from running, you could also relish an affair with exciting and dynamic workouts like Muay Thai, Zumba and Hip-Hop.
“A runner who won’t let the elements blight his passion for running: to be or not to be?”
Ultimately, is up to you to decide on what’s best. While you might not be able to do much about the haze (except for a few laughs at uniquely Singaporean memes about it), you can ensure you stay committed to your fitness goals despite inclement conditions. A runner who won’t let the elements blight his passions: to be or not to be?
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