Snot Rockets Guest Blog by Todd Pollock

After reading Coach Deb Stroiney’s excellent blog post on Exercise and Cold Weather, I got to thinking that when the temps drop, there are other things that happen only in winter time outdoor training compared to sunny summer months. And one of those things is the seemingly endless amount of nasal mucus, snot, boogers, that adds a challenge to running or biking outside. First of all where does it all seem to come from? Before we move onto the proper dislodging while engaged in outdoor training activities, I think it’s pertinent to understand where it comes from. Like how
is it produced! Didn’t you ever wonder? No? Only me? Too bad, let’s learn together.

Your nose and throat are lined with glands that produce 1 to 2 quarts of mucus every day. You swallow that mucus all day long without knowing it (go ahead, I’ll wait till you get a quart measuring cup to visual that amount snot). Those glands are basically trying to act as a humidifier for the air your nose is taking. And as you can imagine when the winter air is colder and usually dryer, your nose needs to up the humidity levels, meaning it has to produce more mucus than normal! And since we all are breathing a bit more than normal, it really has to kick into overdrive to moisten all that air! Ok, so we get now that the body is doing what it has to do. What it’s been designed for. But as we’re out there huffing and puffing, those tiny nasal air ways get clogged with it all, so….it needs to go somewhere, so we can breathe as normal as we can.

I’m going to continue the suspense here for a bit longer before we get to ‘how to launch snot rockets.  Just like anything in life, the questions of ‘is there some way to prevent all this mucus build up? Great question, glad you asked. There are ways, but no guarantees! So please don’t say “Well, Todd said it would prevent mucus build up while I run…” (as you blow snot rocket #4 in mile one).  Try wearing a neck gator that will covering your nose and the lower half of your face. This will help to maintain humidity in the air entering the nose, which will minimize irritation of the membranes and also keep the nose from having to work so hard to humidify the air!  It has also been suggested to me to try Neti-Pot or use a humidifier right before a winter bike or run. The idea here is to basically ‘pre-moisturize’ your nasal membranes, so it doesn’t have to produce so much mucus. I can’t vouch for this, as I have enough to remember when I run first thing in the morning, like “Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.” (priorities, ok?)

Now, what you have been on the edge of your seat waiting for! How to properly launch a Snot Rocket (a.k.a. Farmers Blow):

Step One (and probably the most important step) – do a quick 360 scan around you to make sure there is no one in Snot Rocket Range! Trust me on this one. From personal experience, while I was passing a runner once (ONCE!) the runner did not look and as I was passing them they turned and spit on my shoulder. (Yes, I did say ‘on your left’, but they had headphone in) #neverworethatshirtagain.

Step Two – Take a very deep inhale (good 3 seconds). Most likely it will have to be through your mouth as your nose will be clogged! Once you breath in, hold it for Step 3.

Step Three – Take one finger from the arm opposite of the nasal you will be launching from and gently press on the side of your nose to securely and gently close it off.

Step Four – Tilt Head about 15 degrees. Close Your Mouth firmly! Now take that big ol’ breath you were holding in and quickly exhale it out the sole nostril that is open. Don’t be shy, empty those lungs and all the air out. The key here is focus on expelling the air as quickly as possible.

Step Five – Repeat steps 1 through 4 for the other nostril. And yes, just do the other nostril for good measure, even if you don’t think it needs clearing. This has nothing to do with my OCD.

Foot Notes: Or should I say Nose Notes? There is a good chance that some mucus will not be full expunged, and you will need to wipe said mucus off your nose, face, beard, cheek, with either your
forearm sleeve or gloves.

Thank you for reading my guest post! This has been a topic I’ve been all too excited to write about and share, and greatly appreciate Sonic for allowing me to educate and share my snotledge, er knowledge. If you find this valuable please let the powers that be at Sonic know, as I also have extensive experience during the warmer months on another topic that is not talked about enough, “When Nature Calls While You are in Nature”.

Was going to take pictures of myself for each stage till I noticed how ridiculous I look doing this. So I’m just going to stop here. (Never knew I closed my eyes!)

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