Masks, Bikes, Nose Clips, and Running With Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

bike and  mask
FitOldDog wearing a “Surgical Loop 3-Ply Face Mask,” in the middle of the night due to pollen allergy waking him up.

This blog post is a bit of a miscellany. Just what popped into my head.

What do face masks, bikes and nose clips have in common?


MASKS: If your mask doesn’t fit, it really doesn’t matter what type of mask you wear, and how great its filtration, because fluids flowing from high to low pressure follow the route of least resistance (pressure drop). I see people wearing masks below their nose, and those who fail to pinch the mask around the bridge of their nose, making them essentially useless. The mask I’m wearing in the image above is tricky to fit, especially around the edges and on the nose. You can test the fit by breathing “robustly” in and out to see if the tissue moves in and out with your breath.

I estimate this kind of mask held tight against my face filters over 90% of the inhaled air. Best nose fit, not held tight around the edges, depending on respiratory rate probably ranges from 50 to 80%. The higher inspiratory rate the more effective the filtration, because the mask is sucked tight around the edges.

BIKES: If your bike doesn’t fit, I don’t care whether it is loaded with $1,000s of the best components, long rides will suck (not suck like the mask!). It is worth getting a bike fit before choosing a bike or having one built. My first tri-bike didn’t fit, leading to horrible back pain. I forked out cash this custom bike, which fits like a glove.

bike and mask
I road it 20 miles on delivery, then 40 the next day, and 60 the next. No back pain, it was like putting on an old pair of slippers. Thanks, Victor Jimenez.

NOSE CLIPS: If you have what I call chlorine allergy after leaving the pool, nose clips fix it. Even the eye itching goes away. Until I worked this out, my nose would run and I would sneeze for several hours after pool workouts. Even sea water up my nose does this to me – I think it’s a substance P thing, but let’s not get into the physiology, right now. A runny itching nose, with itchy eyes, doesn’t make it easy or safe to ride the bike after the pool. That said, you have to find nose clips that fit, so they don’t slide down your nose, or fall off during an open water swim.

bike and mask
Don’t I look cute? Who cares, I’m swimming nasal irritation-free.

On waking up with a runny stuffed up nose, at 3:00 a.m. today, with itchy eyes and palate, I thought, “Why not try a mask,” another gift of COVID-19, in addition to the O2sats meter for PAD monitoring. I put it on, played with the fit, and within 10 minutes my nose dried up, my palate stopped itching, and even my eyes stopped irritating me, so I made a cup of tea, and thought about my last brick before the White Lake Half Ironman, next Saturday.

The brick was a 15-mile bike, 5-mile run (with PAD!!!!).

bike and mask
Lap 1 20:10, Lap 2 17:31. As you can see, as my legs warm up, and I assume the collaterals open up, I can slowly pick up my pace, at which point it comes down as much to conditioning as to my distal leg blood flow challenges.

I was pretty happy with this, as my pace increased during the post-bike run, in a thunderstorm. That was a blast, as cars rushed by drenching me, while I was plowing through several inches of rain water. Made me feel young, again.

Furthermore, the rain washed away the pollen.

bike and mask
Pine pollen doesn’t bother me, but it’s a warning of what’s to come. It’s the grass and tree pollen that irritate my upper airways, palate, and eyes. Magic stuff, though, pollen. Each grain containing an entire male genome. No complaints, as I like trees and grass (and ragweed!).

OK! Make sure your masks and bikes fit, that you use nose clips if you start to sneeze after the pool, and keep training whatever the obstacles. I’ve written about how I deal with PAD, as best I can.

Wishing you happy days.


-kev aka FitOldDog

bike and mask
MRI scans through the thighs of three guys. Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone. Note the loss of both muscle and bone mass in the sedentary guy.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.