I’m about to start training for half marathon number 5. And of course that means planning out my running schedule. Sometimes this can be complicated by winter weather but in Salt Lake City we have an added complication -> our air quality.
Before I moved here I never really thought about air quality. That is a Beijing problem, right? Well it turns out due to a combination of geography (valley), poor planning (oil refineries in said valley) and bad luck (low sun angle) we have really bad air in winter – mostly January but it can sneak into December and February. So before I plan my weekly running schedule I need to check these:
Lucky I’m a scientist, right? The main bummer is that when it’s sunny with no snow – that is when the air is likely to be bad. And by bad I mean – your throat is scratchy and in some cases physicians recommend that you refrain from exercising outside especially if you have any medical conditions that might make you sensitive to pollutants. Storms are great at clearing the air out but that means snow and icy conditions. It’s a Catch-22.
For the last couple of years I’ve been doing low (or no) mileage for January and this is the first year that I’ve done longish runs this month. Luckily, I’ve managed to do all of my weekend runs outside and even snuck in a weekday trail run. This has made me so grateful that my body is cooperating so that I can run and I really appreciate any outside run. Although, I have been using my treadmill runs to catch up with Scandal.
The bad air – or inversion as the locals refer to it – is a constant topic of conversation here in SLC in the winter but I can’t complain too much. If I can make it through January then things settle back to normal – and our air is pretty good for the rest of the year, and our winters are relatively mild (sorry Midwesterners and East coasters). Plus, if we really need to escape the air we can just drive 30 minutes and be at 9000ft enjoying the fresh mountain air!