The Good Old “Track Hack”
“Track hack” is not a new condition but it’s not usually spoken about very often. It is basically when too much or overly vigorous exercise causes someone to get a cough. You don’t often find it with your average person – it is most common in athletes and long distance runners, those who definitely go hard when it comes to the world of fitness! Some mountain runners like to call it “hike hack”, which I must say does have a better ring to it. After each event, the condition will usually show itself within just a few minutes but it does usually only last around 3 days or so at a time.
Your elevated heart rate combined with heavier breathing than usual is what is said to cause track hack. If you work out even harder when you know you have this condition, you are only going to be making it worse although it can get better slowly over time with regular training. Your airway will become slightly irritated when you do an intense workout, it can even become eroded due to the air passing over it. Some of the smaller blood vessels can even burst and some athletes even start to taste blood in their mouth after a particularly gruelling session due to this.
Track hack will often cause the throat to produce a higher amount of phlegm to try and protect itself. This cough shows up often with tower runners, many people assume it’s down to the poorer quality of air but this is not the case. Track hack happens no matter where the environment in even the most clear of air. It’s due to the intense workout rather than anything else and it is not preventable if you exercise hard.
Some athletes and long distance runners wear masks in an attempt to stop track hack but this will slow them down, due to the restriction in breathing, which goes against everything they want to gain from their sport. The cough might reduce but this is not really a result of the mask but rather the fact that they are not exerting themselves as much as usual! The best way to reduce your symptoms of track hack, is to train progressively rather than jumping in head first. This will give a chance for your airways to adjust at the right kind of pace. The best types of training to achieve this is high intensity interval training, brisk hiking and even climbing the stairs.