Race Preparation tip #13: Don’t Burn

It didn’t get beyond 18deg C yesterday – I swear. But after doing drinks duty at my running club, I went out for my weekly long run – 25km. It was a beautiful day with sun shining, and a cool breeze in the shade at 11am.  Today my shoulders are red!

After months of winter running in sleeves (often with gloves), my pasty white shoulders must have been a glaring shock for the poor riders/walkers and children  walking the Dandenong Creek Trail (“Tommy, don’t stare at the poor old man with the pale and hairy arms!”).  I’m normally careful about sunburn – melanoma and I are not friends! But yesterday I didn’t think I needed sunblock. I was wrong!

Marathoners can be out there for 4-5 hours … and it could really warm up by midday on Melbourne Marathon day! So here are some ‘sun-tips’ for runners.

  1. Get a Sport sunblock – it stays on longer with sweat. SPF 50 is a good number – you are NOT out there to get a tan, people! (And they have expiry dates for a reason – it pays to check them!)
  2. Use it! (and keep it with your daily running gear, alongside the Sweet Cheeks)
  3. When applying sunblock pay attention to the backs of your legs – especially the tops of your calves and near your sock line – shoulders, the back and sides of your neck … and don’t forget your ears.
  4. When putting it on your face DON’T put sunblock on your forehead. When you sweat it will run into your eyes … and that’s just painful to think about (I’ve been blinded more than once!) You are better off wearing a cap or visor. If you put sunblock on your nose and under your eyes do so lightly … and remember its there. When you wipe sweat off your face, you can run the sunblock back into your eyes!
  5. In summer you can get burnt on overcast days and later in the morning.  If you are out after 10am in training or race day, get lathering!
  6. Speaking of sweet cheeks, in the heat your chafing parts will chafe! Lucas Pawpaw ointment is good, but Butt Butter is better (see what I did there!) as it is not petroleum based.
  7. Get some good sunglasses. If you get sport-specialist ones they should not fog up, and they will stay on your face even when you have sunblock on your nose!  Mine have interchangable lenses, meaning I can use them in various levels of light.
  8. Run in the shade if it is sunny. If you can choose your training route, chose the shaded side of the street. On race day try to run in the shaded part of the course (This is true for Melbourne as well as Gold Coast marathons).
  9. Keeping a Thir Band / Buff on your wrist is good for mopping up sweat and stray liquid sunblock.

None of this will stop Tommy staring at the blanched athlete gliding past at a snails pace, but it will mean you won’t suffer the next day … giving Tommy’s mum an object lesson in sun-care.

Running tip #12: Be a sun-smart runner.

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