Training with poor air quality. (Bushfire smoke)

Throw another koala on the barbie boys and girls. It’s time for another bushfire season.
I’m guessing there are a few other people in Australia suffering from this at the moment.

That lovely haze extending nearly all the way from cape to cape on the east coast is still going strong after three or so weeks. Some days it’s so strong my eyes sting. Yesterday fine white ash was raining down on me for most of the day. That’s the Aussie version of snow around the holiday season.
It’s been so bad we even managed to smoke out our Kiwi neighbors and various pacific islands. Sorry Bro’s.

There’s simply no way to avoid it lately. I’m training indoors exclusively and trying my best to pick my moments around the worst of it.
It’s kinda working…

Everywhere I look there are warnings about excercising alongside the usual warnings for asthmatics.
Just how bad is it to train in these conditions? What are the dangers that warrant the aforementioned warnings?

Aside from the obvious irritation to my eyes, nose and throat, my training is progressing nicely. My only complaint is that my lungs are feeling heavy and I’m pretty groggy in the mornings. All to be expected really.
I’m guessing that the wheels might start to fall off as I move into general build and good sleep becomes critical.
For now I’ll keep chipping away indoors on the trainer and see what happens.

Keep up the good work on the podcast.


PS. Anyone closer to the sources of the smoke than myself, stay safe.


Hi there,
Im in sydney east and the smoke is categorised at extreme, so much so that Heffron tuesday night worlds was cancelled. However anyone who knows sydney knows the Chop and that went ahead and it was tough! I have never had any breathing issues but as soon as finishing a hard 60mins I was coughing like crazy for the rest of the night


I can’t imagine slogging it out for an hour in this crap. 45 minutes of tempo work was enough for me today.

The idea of taking to the trails in these conditions is out for me. I’ve driven through the edges of big fires before and they’re not something you’d want to encounter on the bike. Definately not when you’re hours away from safety.
It might even be time to buy a road bike. Finding some quiet roads might be the go.
:wink: see how I turned this into an excuse to buy another bike!
I’m not looking forward to 1.5 hrs of over unders in the morning. Even indoors the air is thick with smoke.

Plenty more to go by the looks of things.

1 Like

BBC News - Air quality: How bad are Australia’s fires for health?

1 Like

Thanks for that @mancunian.
Trust the BBC to do a better job than the local media.

The bit comparing pollution levels to individual cigarettes puts things into perspective.
It’s the equivalent of training in a pub back in the 90’s. Work that rotator cuff! :beer:

It scares me to think of all the cigarettes I smoked back in the day. I was a fit little fella as well.
That’s probably why I’m so conscious of things now. I worked so hard to change my lifestyle back then and I feel like I’ve used up enough luck over the years.
Lung cancer/emphysema scares the crap out of me.

1 Like

At least there’d be plenty of hydration options on hand :joy:

On a serious note, the smoke, or haze, affects people to different degrees, depending on their sensitivity. I can imagine someone with sensitive airways, asthmatics or allergy sufferers to be hit more.

I’m living in Singapore, and every year we get a period of haze that is caused by farmers in Indonesia torching their plantations - to prepare for the next season.

Some days the pollution can get to some unhealthy levels, and it’s a no-brainer not to go outside and gulp down lungfulls of it. But even on some days when it’s ‘not so bad’ you’ll still get some people complaining that they feel their eyes stinging, or have a sore throat.

We use this web site to monitor the air quality

I’ve been trying to track down decent research on this (I’m also in Sydney) and wasn’t able to come up with much hard guidance. A PM2.5 of 150 is the start of ‘Everyone should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion’; however it doesn’t define how long is prolonged or how hard heavy exertion is.

Depending how it pans out over the next few days I’m thinking that above 150 is a no, 100-150 is a maybe but not going to work too hard.

I’ve also noticed that the correlation between how bad it looks and readings from the monitoring sites is not great, so that a couple of times its looked clear the counts have still been high.

We are lucky in that 99% of the time we have no air quality issues but as a result of that, bad-air days are much more noticeable. Given I’m outside even when on the trainer, I’ve just skipped the last few days and snuck in a quick run.


I live in Poland, which I believe has the worst air quality in Europe. We have lots of problems with smog often have extremely unhealthy days, especially in the winter. It is bad enough that you actually notice it in your day to day life, even as a healthy individual.

I don’t train outside when there is an air advisory (period). Inside, I’ve purchased HEPA filters with charcoal pre-filters that have a monitor for PM2.5. It makes me feel better and I hope it makes a difference - the monitor goes crazy when I cook and it seems to work harder on days where the air quality is worse outside.

1 Like

The air quality is so bad they all have to train indoors exclusively.

A cheap jab. I know. I couldn’t help myself.
(Edit: I thought I should add that I’m glad TR is doing well. It’s a tall poppy thing and shouldn’t be taken as an insult, more of of a compliment).

Seriously though, I actually bailed on my workout today as the smoke got quite thick this afternoon. I might even look into a filtration unit if they stack up.


This was from the second day when the smoke was bad in Brisbane (a few weeks back). Numbers were double the afternoon before

1 Like

Not sure if you guys in Sydney are experiencing the daily afternoon dust storms we are getting here in the central west of NSW @Rosscopeco?

It seems the prevailing overnight easterly breeze brings in the smoke from the fires.
Around 10 am as the morning heats up the westerly breeze blows the smoke back east and replaces it with a blanket of fine red dust for the remainder of the daylight hours.

No end in sight to this; only cycling goals, without a serious flood.

1 Like

I’m in Brisbane at the moment and it’s still pretty bad. The mornings are often the best before the wind picks up.
My car is also covered in dust every morning. Also, a mate who swims at Bondi every morning said the ash is in the water column now as well as on the surface.
Nasty stuff.

I read another article that suggested the ash would be getting blown around long after the fires have gone out. This fine particulate matter can be pretty nasty and will get deep into the lungs where it’s hard to clear out.
The recommendation was to wipe down surfaces around the house with a damp cloth on a daily basis to limit exposure indoors. HEPA filters in the vacuum cleaner were another recommendation.

1 Like

Same in St. George area. Smoke in the morning, dust in the afternoon.

I just skip training if there is a smoke/dust forecast, it’s not worth the risk.

I am also considering moving my trainer set up indoors, where I have an air purifier (brilliant thing btw !).


I use a couple of these in my apt in Poland. We have really bad air pollution (like often so bad it goes over what can be measured). I use these:

Love them.


Whereabouts are you? Plenty of dust over the last few days in Canberra but no smoke. My sister is still in Griffith and there’s been some amazing dust storms there recently. I went out on Sat arvo on the MTB and between the heat and dust it was a pretty ordinary ride.

Orange @benmcduff

The smoke has been bad but it’s nothing compared to the daily afternoon dust storm.

1 Like

So the AQI in Canberra was >5000 last night! Worst air quality in the world. Winning. I have bought an air purifier and will probably stick in my laundry tomorrow and try to do a TR workout then.

1 Like

Somehow I still think that folk at Bateman’s Bay had it worse than that.

1 Like

My Aunty from Lilli Pilli would probably agree with that.

It’s bonkers that this thread was started 19th of November and there’s still more fires burning :slightly_frowning_face: