Wildfires Air Quality and Running

What is AQI and how can it affect my running?

In many places throughout the country, ‘Summer’ is sadly becoming synonymous with ‘Wildfire Season’, drastically affecting our air quality.

The Air Quality Index, or AQI, measures the level of pollution in the air and provides a quick and easy way to determine your level of risk to harmful particles.

As runners, we are especially at risk when levels of contamination are higher should we choose to run outside – as your heart rate increases, so does your respiration rate, breathing potentially damaging substances not only more frequently but more deeply into your lungs. By running outside when air quality is poor, you could be counteracting many of the positive adaptations you are seeking by running in the first place!

So when is it safe to run? There are varying guides as more research is conducted on long term effects, but the general recommendations all agree to avoid heavy physical activity and long term exposure with AQI >100. For those with a history of lung related issues or asthma, that number is even lower.

There are plenty of great resources out there for those looking to learn more, including https://www.airnow.gov to see the current AQI for your area.

Stay tuned for tips and tricks on how to still get training in and mitigate your exposure when air quality is less than ideal. In the mean time, be nice to the earth and make smart decisions in regards to fire guidelines in your area. It is our job to help preserve the privilege we have of enjoying the trails and beautiful places we get to run!