I love Utah. Even more so, I love running in Utah. Our roads don’t ice over until the end of time because we get so much sunshine. There are cute neighborhoods, big parks, easy access to trails and minimal traffic. But none of that really matters when the air quality is so bad that I don’t want to subject my lungs to any heavy breathing outdoors, besides maybe a bike commute.
Air quality seems to be a pretty convoluted issue. Is it really that much better indoors? How much damage can it really do to our health? How high do you have to go to get out of it? Why don’t people carpool? Why isn’t mass tranist free on “Red days”?
Do I know all these answers for certain? No, but last year the library had a public lecture on health topics and I attended one about air pollution, so I am practically an expert.
I wish I remembered his name, but this doctor said there is no safe amount of air pollution. And the world we live in is full of it and has been full of it for a while. People used to cook over flames in poorly ventilated houses, where they would have to scrub the walls clean of soot every spring. There are also better environmental regulations for industry, which has helped air quality over the years. Nevertheless, it is important to be informed and make decisions as to what sort of exposure you are willing to tolerate.
First things first, know the air quality levels. The most accurate information for Utahn’s is at http://www.airquality.utah.gov/aqp/slc-currentconditions.html. They update this information every hour. This is also good resource for summer months, when we often forget about air quality; however we have high ozone levels which can have negative health outcomes as well. During winter you want to look for PM2.5 levels. This stands for particulate matter, and 2.5 refers to its size. This type of PM is the kind that causes the most health complications because its small size allows it to travel further into the lung, where it can become deeply embedded. These particulates are also generally more toxic because they come from heavy metals or cancer causing organic compounds. Symptoms like coughing, asthma, mucous, is your body reacting to these particles in your respiratory system. Paying attention to these symptoms can be a good way to help you decide when to avoid outdoor activity.
Secondly, if you choose to run indoors there are obviously gyms but also a lot of great city recreation centers. The best one for running is the Kearns Olympic Oval-located at 5662 Cougar Lane. It is $3 for a day pass or you can sign up 10 people for a year pass for only $199. They have long hours; Monday-Friday 5:30am-9pm and Saturdays from 8am-8pm and Sundays from 12-7pm. If you go during public skate hours, your kids can skate while you run.
It is a 442 meter track, and all the start lines are painted, so if you want to do a specific workout its not hard to figure out the distances. The surface of the track is Mondo Super-X
, which is a premiere, world-class track surface that, while it may sound stupid, is super awesome to run on. Fast people run on Mondo tracks. Like Olympians! Its a big deal. It is a little chilly inside; definitely bring warmups, especially if you run cold. They keep it between 63-65 degrees. Also be sure to bring water because running inside can dehydrate you, even if it is cool.
And a little track etiquette, if you are walking don’t use lane one! There I said it. Hate me if you must, but I still love you. Sometimes a Zamobini will cross the track, and it definitely has the right of way so watch out for that. Finally, its a LEED certified building so the air quality in there is pristine!
Well there you have it. Some information brought to you by practically an expert in practically everything.