Tips For When You’re Missing the Fresh Air, Kelowna: Training For Trail Running During Smoke Periods
There’s one necessity for trail running that sets it apart from other forms of running—it’s outside, on the trails! So what do you do when wildfire smoke comes to town? Of all the running stores in Kelowna, Fresh Air of course wants to keep you outside—it’s right there in our name! But more than anything we want you to stay safe. Here are our trail running tips for when the air is not so fresh.
When to stay inside
The Air Quality Health Index from Environment Canada is your best friend when it comes to making exercise decisions in smoky conditions. The easy-to-follow chart will give you current conditions, risk levels, and guidance for both at-risk and general populations. Not sure if you are at risk? They can help you determine that as well.
Generally, guidance is to consider reducing strenuous outdoor activities when moderate risk (level 4-6) is reached for at-risk populations. Note: “People who work outdoors” and “people involved in strenuous outdoor exercise” are included in the “people at risk” group, according to the Government of Canada’s website.
While the government’s guidelines are an excellent resource, it’s most important to follow your gut and stay in if you think it’s best for you, and consult with your doctor.
How to train when you shouldn’t go outside
So, you decided to keep today’s run indoors. What are some of the best ways to train for trail running when it’s smokey outside?
If air quality is teetering in the safe zone for you, it’s best to time your runs in the morning. Air quality tends to be best in the morning and deteriorates as the day goes on.
The treadmill is bliss for some, but a bit of a dread-mill for others. Either way, when air quality isn’t right, playing it safe indoors means the treadmill is an incredible tool. One crucial tip for making the time fly—aside from awesome playlists or thrilling videos—is covering up the stats board. Like a watched kettle never boils, a watched half marathon seems to never cross the finish line. Make sure to play with intervals and inclines to try and mimic outdoor trails!
An indoor race track at your local recreation centre or gym could prove your saviour during smoke waves. Buddying up is a great way to beat the race track blues if you’re worried about being stimulated in a repetitive environment.
Pump some iron
It’s so hard to do the kind of strength training maintenance that benefits trail runners in the long run when you can just go outside and take in the views. When air quality is poor, take it as an opportunity to work the oft-neglected runner's muscles in the weight room.
Work on your stamina
Give your body a stamina boost while mixing up your routine with indoor-friendly activities like:
Interval training on the treadmill
The potential hazards
While it’s almost always tempting to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, when it’s hazy and smoggy there are a number of potential health risks that come with smoke exposure. On the milder end, you may experience headaches, sinus irritation, or a mild cough. On the more extreme (and less common) end, smoke exposure can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations or chest pains. Be sure to seek medical attention if you have any of these more serious symptoms!
Quit dreaming, start doing. Our sports stores in Kelowna have everything you need to find your new sport. See what’s in store, then get out and enjoy the Fresh Air!