Allergy Question

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Okay.  One cool thing about this website is that I can usually get a fairly accurate answer about just about anything I need to know about.

I’ve got one of those questions.  For a long time now, probably close to 10 years, I’ve had this lack of energy, sore leg, weird feeling during March, sometimes all the way up to the end of May.  It seems to always be when I’m in Kansas, but a few years ago, when I went out to Redland’s in California, I was horrible.

I am pretty sure it is mainly allergies.  I think when tree allergies start in early spring, here in Kansas, I start feeling weird and then it just stays for a long time.

The one symptom that I can’t explain, and this is the main issue I have athletically, is that when it happens, my tendons seems to tighten up.  Like all my tendons.

It’s sort of hard to explain, but it is like my tendons are like guitar strings and that my muscles are doing isometric exercises trying to stretch them out.  I have a built it in internal resistance, thus am doing a ton of work and not going forward very fast.

I really noticed this yesterday.  It is the worst it has been so far.  I rode over to Lawrence on the River Road, gravel, and I was struggling the whole way.  It was spitting down rain and the gravel wasn’t too bad, but I was pretty much done by the time I got to Lawrence, which is 35 miles.

How can I be done at 35 miles when I’ve ridden nearly 3000 miles for the season and thought I was pretty recovered from being sick a couple weeks ago?  My right leg was nearly cramping.  I hobbled home, in a complete downpour, at 45 degrees, on the gravel.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I was completely blown.

There must be some explanation for the phenomenon.  It has happened so often that I have sort of surrendered to the fact.  The last couple years I’ve avoided it by not being around Kansas in the spring, when the allergies kick in, plus when they are burning the whole state, which obviously doesn’t thrill me much. I don’t take any allergy medicine, it never seems to make a difference.

So, I’m wondering if anyone else has had this problem, and if so, have they figured out a solution for it?   My solution has been to just wait it out.  Sometimes it takes a few weeks, sometimes more than a couple months.  I don’t really feel like I have that long to wait it out this year.  I missed all the early season training races around here, so I’m already behind the curve.


Allergies word cloud


23 thoughts on “Allergy Question

  1. Jon

    I’m a pharmacist. You mentioned you were sick a few weeks ago. Did you take any antibiotics? Levaquin, Cipro plus a few others belong to a class of antibiotics that can cause weakening of the tendons. In fact we had one of our pharmacists completely tear his Achilles and it was suspect because he was on a fluoroquinolone at the time. This class can cause tendon pain, rupture and tendonitis. This wouldn’t explain it happening every year of course. Just a thought.

  2. Erskien Lenier

    In my cycling career I logged approx 750,000 miles before having a “Forest Gump moment” and realized I really jo longer felt good on a bike and my passion had disappeared. As I self examined what had changed in my body over the decades I came to a Suliman realization as you did that I seemed to be stiffening up all over and especially in the Spring. After a few weeks off the that bike I woke up one day and realized I could never live an ordinary life like most mortals and tried to get back into riding. It just felt flat and like I was fighting and inner rubber band like tension everywhere. So back off the bike again…. I thought maybe I was just way over due for an extended rest? That lasted about another 3 weeks as I put on 30 freakin pounds…. Woke up one day like Mr Gump and knew I was going to return to running after a couple decades of destroying my right knee attempting to qualify for Boston a couple decades ago in the off season from bicycle racing.
    Long story short the running lead me to discover at least 2 things that were diet related that led to my body tightening up and the loss of passion for cycling: that ligament tension sensation began to feel like cold blood in my veins in the lower legs and into my feet. Eventually I was going out for a 15 mile run and got 2 miles into it when a shooting – burning pain erupted in the top of my right foot shutting down the run so profoundly I had to call my wife to come pick me up. It took me a few weeks to figure out what triggered it but despite MD’s inability to figure it out, like you I resorted to posting to my blog and online running forums for insights and the feedback began to point to a B12 deficiency. Specifically methyl cobalamin which is the only version humans can optimally use inside cells. Most everyone I consulted with were doing injections and I hate needles. So I did find a vegan capsule based formula specifically formulated to support nerve shieth regeneration. Once I got a supply (mail order) the results were immediate and profound. I was back to pain free running in days. I could still tell there was something different about my muscle tension – elasticity… I’ve been vegan pretty much give or take yogurt a few times in my 20’s since age 13 but relied heavily on cooked – prepared vegan meals and fresh produce when I came upon it here and there. In chatting with other high level endurance athletes in both cycling and running I came to realize that a cooked food diet is a diet of broken organic elements that can be small but accumulative over time creating all kinds of symptoms we normally associate with aging and various illnesses and ailments. It was suggested to me by a guy named Scott Jerek who at that time had won all the toughest ultra distance running races back to back on a raw Fruitarian diet that I try transitioning to an unadulterated diet of just ripe, raw, water rich, sweet fruits, a few raw greens and veggies as desired and see what that does. I thought, well he’s running upwards of 200 miles per week and always seems to have a great attitude and energy I’d try it. 30 days and 30 lbs lighter I felt transformed! Not only had all the ligament, muscle, joint and nerve pains gone but I became more flexible than I can ever remember with zero stretching. During this time I also transitioned from shoe based running to mostly barefoot running also. I loved the new found exhilaration so much that I literally ran with it. I’ve had thoughts of returning to cycling but I don’t think I could ever let my feet be confined to cycling shoes again. I’ve invested over 65,000 miles into getting them healthy now and shoes like cars don’t breed health. So my suggestion is to explore and leave jo alternative options off the table. The MD’s wanted to put me on all kinds of drugs and even such extreme suggestions as severing the main nerves in my foot! As lifestyle endurance athletes we tend to overlook micro nutrients that seem like nothing meal to meal but over hundreds of thousands of miles they absolutely can be the key to taking us out as in sometimes fatal outcomes from misdiagnosis. Remember few medically trained doctors have any background in organic biochemistry or nutrition. Feel free to reach back for more dialogue on this topic. My mobile is in my Facebook profile.

  3. Rogermac3

    Flonase (which is over the counter now) is pretty good and not one that most think about in terms of allergies but helps a ton. Daily Claritin and Allegra “D” during bad flare ups. The daily antihistamine takes time to work so you probably need to start taking one every day at least until past the blooming season. Hope you feel better Steve.

  4. NJRoadie

    Flonase helps me a ton. It takes a couple of weeks to work. I start taking it in March for April allergy season.

  5. Fergie

    I here ya. My allergies seem to changed some as the years have rolled on. Used to be the normal itchy eyes,scratchy throat. Now it’s a “deep” nasal drip. One you barely know is there, but builds so much it leaves you with a nauseated feeling… bad so that I get violent hic-ups if I eat slightly fast.
    But yes, just the past few years I get the “leg-dents”..feels like kinks and knots that kind of travel along with reduced energy. It seems wierd…I’m glad you brought it up. Curious to hear more.
    Of course while I’m posting..Wishing Bromont all the best..hope he continues being comfortable and able enjoy life’s pleasures with you.

  6. jeremiah

    Tree pollen is the enemy for me. Most specifically, maple pollen. When I moved to the northeast and started racing again, I noticed that I was having weird coughing fits during events in May and June. At first I thought I’d sucked little flies into my lungs. But I finally came to realize that the musty smell of maple pollen was always present when it happened. And finally came the proof. I was out doing intervals and on the way home, noticed that musty smell again, and then, just riding along easy, I couldn’t breathe anymore. Like not at all. A severe exercise-induced asthma attack. I fell off the bike, completely unable to take ANY air in. A bystander called the EMTs and by the time they arrived, the attack had stopped. And that was it for me. No hard-effort riding in that area of the country during that time of the year. Which for me meant “no more racing” pretty much. I just don’t wanna die from bike racing.

    Doc said that I have exercise-induced asthma specifically triggered by certain pollens. I suspected that Steve Larsen may have died in this manner a few years back, as the manner in which he collapsed sounded SO much like what had happened to me. The autopsy said he’d had a heart attack. But what triggered it?

  7. Wildcat

    I know it’s only one component, but keep hydration level at the top of your to-do list every day. The amount of fluid oz of water you consume every day should be equal to that of half your body weight in lbs. I’m 185lbs so I should be getting about 92 fl oz of water daily. More on days with exercise. More with excess perspiration.

  8. Justin


    I had the same issue a couple of years ago. I would train all winter and as soon as the weather got decent I was struggling to hang on with guys who just started training. Once I figured out it was allergies, I started getting weekly allergy shots. I did that for a year, along with daily Claritan, and using a netti pot when the pollen is really visible, and it is mostly behind me. The testing revealed I was most allergic to tree pollen and dust mites. Dust mites are a year round problem, hence the daily Claritan

  9. Charlie

    Similar issues here. I started immunotherapy at Allergy Associates in La Crosse, WI fairly recently (La Crosse Method Protocol), and I have already noticed an improvement in my symptoms. It’s a long term process, though. This is actually the clinic that Kathy Lemond’s dad started, and I believe her sister is a Dr. there. My Dr. is Dr. Schroeder, and I have nothing but good things to say about her. They really take their time with you and try to figure out all of your underlying issues. Their initial testing is also much more thorough and targeted than I have experienced before. I would highly recommend your checking them out. I’m sure Kathy could give you a lot more info if you’re considering it. I hope you find a solution.

  10. Mark

    Allergy Immunotherapy. My wife started the shots a year ago. She always had allergy reactions around certain animals and of course the spring season. Gets a shot once a week, kind of expensive, definitely a hassle, but already doing better.

  11. Jeff D.

    but do all you allergy suffers get the tight knotted up tendon feeling like Steve gets?

  12. Bill K

    Steve, most people in your situation just apply for a therapeutic use exemption to get “juiced up”.
    Just follow Tinkov’s advise and don’t get caught.

  13. Timm

    Why the would anyone thumb down immunotherapy?
    “Don’t train your body not to over react to pollen. Take antihistamines your whole life so you can feel horrible” [And profit pharmaceutical companies]

  14. Mickey Caldwell

    I got the allergies bad when I moved to California. Had them tested and the MD said it was grasses and tree pollen. I tried using a spoon full of local honey every day and for the lat 3 years i have had it under control . Controlled enough to race my bike. No real down side here, after all how bad can a little honey be everyday?

  15. Ducky

    I have experienced similar symptoms from spring allergies in California. I have psoriasis, which is a disease of the autoimmune system. It attackes my joints, and flares up during spring allergy season. The result has been a general stiffening of my musculature during the allergy season. And this stiffening combined with working as a carpenter, has lead me to episodes of prolonged knee swelling. No pain, or no injury to point at as the cause, just chronic imflammation lasting sometimes for two months. This happened three or four years in a row. What I figured out was to keep super hydrated, stretch way more in the region of my hips, as the muscles of the upper legs seemed to be causing a patellar mistracking issue and thus the knee swelling, and lastly simply not over doing it duirng the allergy season. This has worked for me. My orthopedist does not buy it, but experientially I have found it to be true.
    As for the nasal drip…its lovely… I deal with it by using my netti pot up to 3 times a day and take a claritin type product during the worst of it.
    Judging from the other responses I need to look into immunotherapy.
    Good luck.

  16. Ron

    A little off topic but along with allergy testing I would recommend food sensitivity testing. For years I had headaches at least weekly if not daily. Turns out that I have a sensitivity to yeast. I stay away from all breads and alcohol. I haven’t had a headache for months….Not that you are having headaches or anything but you never know what types of interactions may be taking place in your body.

  17. The Cyclist

    Me thinks you ride in the rain way too much. Get wet and soft and what not… and then get all stiff gettin dry. I hate getting wet, just as my cat… so I never ride in the rain and never get any of your problems.

  18. Weiwen

    Going to comment on allergies. When I have fall allergies and I don’t take my rescue inhaler before a race, I can immediately feel that I’m going slower, and I lose 20 places. I often feel like crap when I push to the max. I will sometimes feel a bit short of breath – not drastically short like I can’t breathe, but my breathing will be a bit ragged at rest, or when I make a max effort I just somehow can’t put out the power I think I can.

    So, if you have nasal allergies (lots of snot), go for the flonase first (ask your primary care doc for a prescription, but it is available OTC and it should be about $30 a month). You may want a rescue inhaler if you have breathing symptoms. If you have persistent shortness of breath at rest, you may want a maintenance inhaler, which is a long-acting corticosteroid (so it’s different from a rescue inhaler, which is an immediate action drug).

    Speaking from personal experience (no clinical background), it definitely sounds plausible that you could have allergies/exercise-induced allergies. Might want to see a doctor, there are objective tests they can do.


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