Running through wooded paths around a lake, with a maelstrom of tree pollen falling around me like rain, I have to remind myself how I would normally be feeling. Teary-eyed, sniffing and wheezing – hayfever often has a direct (and significant) effect on my training. But this time I didn’t have any symptoms, and the early British summer was beautiful.
I train several times a day, every day, whether it is steady running on wooded trails or through grassy fields, fast efforts on the track, or a hard gym session. I have asthma, and take a daily inhaler to help to keep it under control. The toughest times of year for me are the middle of winter (when the cold dry air makes it much tougher to breathe), and the whole summer season (when I need to be at my best to compete with the top athletes in the world).
When May comes around each year, the warmer weather makes training easier, but the accompanying pollen can make my life very difficult. It certainly doesn’t cause me life-threatening problems, but when a half second drop in performance can make the difference between 1st and 4th, I try to make sure that I control everything that I can.
With hayfever, my only options until now have been over the counter antihistamines which carry the risk of drowsiness (definitely not a performance enhancer!). They also carry the inherent risk of being a pharmaceutical product, subject to potential contamination. The public are all too aware of the athletes out there who have tried to gain a chemical advantage, and it is therefore paramount that clean athletes are able to take full responsibility for anything that enters their bodies.
Enter HayMax. This is the reason that I can run through freshly cut grass fields, or beneath swirling clouds of tree pollen, without any symptoms or impact on performance. And it is a drug free solution. I carry a tiny pot of HayMax in my training bag, and put it on before training. A smear under my nose, and a smear under each eye, on go the sunglasses and it really is that simple.
It has meant that last month I didn’t need to check the pollen count each day, I didn’t need to carefully work out what time to take an antihistamine tablet, and I didn’t finish my hard training sessions rubbing my eyes and reaching for an inhaler. Unfortunately whilst HayMax works miracles, it couldn’t stop me from finishing my sessions with my hands on my knees gasping for air – just because my hayfever isn’t a problem, doesn’t mean I get to slack off!
This all gives me one more thing that I can control, and one less thing to worry about. It also means that I can spend time in the garden with my wonderful baby daughter without constantly sneezing – it’s definitely the little things that make the biggest differences.
Footnote: I know it has been a long time since my last blog, but stay tuned for a thorough update on what I’ve been up to, and what my immediate plans are… coming soon.