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Cross Training For Runners

The Dangers of Sun Exposure for Runners: Protect Your Skin and Eyes

9 Mins read

Summer is finally here, and you know what that means? It’s prime time for running! With those long sunny days and exciting races happening all over the place, it’s the perfect opportunity to stay motivated and keep up with your training.

But hey, here’s the thing – while we’re soaking up the sun, we need to be mindful of its potential downsides. Yep, excessive sun exposure can cause all sorts of issues like premature skin aging, pterygium (weird word, right?), cataract formation, and even skin cancer. Yikes!

But don’t you worry, my friend? There’s good news too. You can still enjoy your runs and minimize the risk of sun damage and skin cancer. How? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to dive into today.

So, in this article, let’s have a chat about how those sneaky sun rays can harm your precious skin, and most importantly, let’s explore some super effective measures to shield yourself from their harmful effects. Trust me, you’ll be all set to enjoy your summer runs without any worries. Let’s get started!

The Dangers Of Sun Exposure For Runners

Exposing yourself to those glorious rays of sunshine can come with a price tag—skin damage. And if you’re an avid runner, the risks shoot up even higher, especially when you’re hitting the pavement during peak daylight hours.

Now, before you brush it off and say, “Nah, I’m good,” let me drop some knowledge bombs on you.

You see, when it comes to most cancers, exercise, like running, actually helps lower the risk. But hold your horses! Skin cancer is a crafty exception to that rule. In fact, marathon runners have been found to have a higher prevalence of age spots and those pesky abnormal moles that are red flags for malignant melanoma.

That’s right, according to a study published in the Archives of Dermatology, those marathoners were more susceptible to skin nasties. It’s like they were collecting souvenirs from the sun, but these souvenirs were no vacation mementos—they were potential health hazards!

But wait, there’s more! It’s not just your skin that’s in the danger zone. Those UV rays can also wreak havoc on your precious peepers. Research published in the fancy-sounding Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology journal found that prolonged exposure to UV rays can contribute to eye damage, like those pesky cataracts. Yikes!

So how do you protect your skin from the sun’s damage while running?

Do the following.

Wear Sunscreen

Here’s a golden rule for you: sunscreen is your secret weapon against those sly UV rays. But not just any ol’ sunscreen will do the trick. You gotta be smart and choose one with a minimum SPF of 30 that shields you from all types of UV rays. We’re talking about the superhero of sunscreens here—it’s called broad-spectrum SPF, and it’s your best bet for ultimate protection.

Now, don’t be stingy when it comes to slathering on that sunscreen. Be generous, my friends! Give yourself a liberal dose and make sure to cover all the nooks and crannies that are gonna catch some serious sun. We’re talking about your arms, legs, the back of your neck, and even those sneaky rims of your ears. Don’t leave an inch uncovered, ’cause those rays have no mercy!

Oh, and let’s not forget those luscious lips of yours. They need some love too! Grab yourself a lip balm that packs a punch with SPF. But here’s the secret sauce: apply that lip balm a good 15 to 20 minutes before you hit the road. Give it time to work its magic and get absorbed into your skin. Your lips will thank you for their newfound sun protection.

Now, if you’re planning to go the distance and run for more than 90 glorious minutes, here’s a pro tip for you. Toss a small travel-sized sunscreen in your gear bag. That way, you can give yourself a touch-up and keep that sun protection game strong. Ain’t nobody got time for sunburns, right?

Keep Your Clothes On

If you’re planning to take on those sunny skies while pounding the pavement, it’s time to suit up and shield your precious skin. Forget about those skimpy tank tops and short shorts for a moment because we’re about to dive into the world of sun-smart running gear.

First things first, let’s talk about coverage. You want to cover up like a ninja protecting their secrets. Opt for long-sleeved shirts, leggings, or trusty track pants that have got your back (and your legs) covered. The more skin you can shield from those sneaky ultraviolet rays, the better. It’s like creating a fortress for your dermis, defending it against potential sunburn attacks.

Now, here’s a pro tip: go for those technical, high-performance fabrics that have superpowers of their own. Look for clothing labeled as “sun protective” because hey, it’s like the clothing version of sunscreen’s mighty SPF. These garments are designed to be your shield against those harmful rays. They’re like your secret weapon, combining style and safety all in one. So, rock that sun-protective gear like a fashion-forward superhero!

Here’s a little heads-up on color selection. Try to steer clear of dark-colored clothing. Why? Because those dark hues have a knack for absorbing more sun rays than their lighter-colored counterparts. Think of it as a sun ray magnet—dark colors just can’t resist grabbing onto those rays, while lighter shades let them bounce right off.

Hat & Sunglasses

When it comes to running under that glorious sun, there are two trusty sidekicks you can’t leave behind: your hat and sunglasses.

First up, let’s talk about that cool and shady headgear. A hat is your secret weapon for keeping the sun’s fiery rays at bay. But here’s a little trick to take it up a notch: soak that hat in some refreshing water before you head out. It’s like giving yourself a personal air conditioner! Not only will it help shield your head from the sun, but it’ll also keep your core temperature down.

Now, let’s dive into the world of sunglasses. These bad boys aren’t just for looking cool (although that’s a bonus). They serve a crucial purpose in protecting your precious eyes from those harmful rays. So, here’s the deal—make sure your shades come equipped with UV protection. That’s the real superhero power you’re after. Don’t just choose based on looks or style; dig deeper and make sure those shades serve their purpose. Remember, function over fashion, buddy!

supplements for runners

Young female runner jogging in the city street.

Don’t Run During  Peak Sunshine Hours

When it comes to running under that blazing sun, timing is everything. While precaution is a must no matter what time it is, running during peak sunshine hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., can be a real gamble with your skin’s well-being.

So, here’s the plan: let’s outsmart the sun and adjust our running routine accordingly. Instead of braving those scorching midday rays, why not plan your runs during the cooler hours? Rise and shine, and hit the road in the early morning or bask in the glory of an evening jog. During these times, the UV rays aren’t as fierce, so you can enjoy your run without putting your skin at too much risk.

Now, pay close attention if you’re planning those long runs. Here’s a pro tip: start them bright and early, ensuring you finish by 9 a.m. Trust me, you don’t want to mess around with the sun’s fury for too long. Otherwise, you might find yourself with a serious case of the dreaded sunburn. We don’t want that, do we?

Now, let’s talk about those peak sunshine hours. If the sun’s intensity is cranked up to the max, it might be wise to take your runs indoors. You know, like finding shelter from a scorching storm. But if you absolutely must venture out during those peak hours, take extra measures to protect yourself. Think of it as preparing for battle against the known carcinogens lurking in the sun’s rays. Shield yourself with extra sunscreen, cover up with protective clothing, and rock those sunglasses like a true sun warrior!

Now, here’s a little exception to the rule. If you’re training for a serious endurance race that takes place smack dab in the daytime heat, well, my friend, you’ll have to face the sun head-on. But don’t worry. With proper preparation and sun-savvy tactics, you’ll conquer that race like a champ.

Avoid Chafing

Chafing is a pesky issue that can turn your joyful jog into a painful ordeal. It’s like a scratchy scratch mark that makes your skin scream in agony.


But fear not, my friend, because I’ve got some secrets to share that will keep chafing at bay and let you enjoy your runs without a single wince.

Picture this: you’re out there, conquering the hot season with your unstoppable sweat game. But guess what? That extra sweat can spell trouble for your skin. When it mixes with the friction from your clothing or skin-to-skin contact, chafing becomes an unwelcome guest on your running journey. But we won’t let it ruin the fun, will we?

Here’s the key: arm yourself with an anti-chafing stick or ointment. It’s like a magical shield that protects your skin from the evil forces of friction. Apply it generously to those chafing-prone areas, like your underarms and inner thighs. Think of it as giving your skin a soothing hug, keeping it happy and pain-free throughout your run. Trust me, your skin will thank you for this act of kindness!

But hold on. There’s more to the chafing battle than just magical ointments. Your choice of clothing plays a crucial role too. Baggy clothes? No, thank you! We want to avoid any extra material that could rub you the wrong way. Opt for shorts that cover your upper thighs, providing that extra layer of protection. And when it comes to your trusty bra, go for ones with flat or covered seams. They’ll be like smooth sailing for your sensitive skin. Oh, and if you’re worried about those sensitive nips, a handy nipple pad can come to the rescue. It’s like a tiny superhero cape for your delicate areas!

Cleanse Yourself

Let’s dive into the cleansing ritual that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for whatever comes your way.

Now, picture this: you step into the shower, water cascading over your skin, washing away the sweat and grime. But we’re not stopping there. We’re going for the ultimate double facial cleanse, because your face deserves some extra pampering too.

First, let’s start with a pre-cleanse oil. Think of it as the superhero that swoops in to remove makeup and surface dirt, making way for your regular cleanser to work its magic. One product we swear by is Beauty Shaman’s Cleansing Beauty Oil. It’s like a gentle breeze sweeping away the day’s impurities, leaving your skin fresh and ready for the next step.

Next up, choose a cleanser that suits your needs. If you’re looking for a gentle and moisturizing option, Vivant’s Green Tea Antioxidant Cleanser is a winner. It’s like a sip of revitalizing green tea for your skin, nourishing and cleansing in one go. But if you’re prone to build-up or acne, you might want to go for something mildly exfoliating. Mandelic 3-in-1 Wash is our go-to recommendation. It’s like a superhero sidekick that fights off those pesky skin troubles, revealing a clearer and smoother complexion.

Stay Well Hydrated 

Proper hydration is vital for your performance and overall well-being. Especially during the scorching hot season, staying properly hydrated should be at the top of your priority list. Trust me, it’s like fueling your body with the power it needs to conquer those miles.

Here’s the deal: the more miles you log, the more water you lose. It’s a simple equation, my friend. In fact, did you know that for every 20 minutes of running, you can lose up to 6 to 10 ounces of fluid? That’s right, excessive sweating is part of the running package. But don’t fret, because we’ve got the hydration solution to keep you going strong.

Not only does proper hydration support your performance, but it also plays a crucial role in your skin health. When we sweat profusely under the sun’s rays, our skin can become drier and more vulnerable to their penetrating effects. We don’t want that, do we? So, here’s the golden rule: stay well hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water. It’s like quenching your body’s thirst and giving your skin the moisture it craves.

Before you hit the road, aim to drink 8 to 12 ounces of water about 20 to 30 minutes beforehand. Consider it a pre-run hydration ritual that sets you up for success. And during those longer runs exceeding 90 minutes, make sure to keep sipping every 20 to 30 minutes along your route.

But how do you recognize the signs of dehydration? Simple. Dark yellow urine and a persistently elevated heart rate after a run are important indicators. Your body is sending out distress signals. Remember, thirst is not a reliable gauge of dehydration. If you feel thirsty, it means you’re already dehydrated.

But hydration isn’t the only secret to nourishing your skin. Your plate can also play a vital role. Did you know that UV exposure and environmental factors can deplete your body’s antioxidant reserves, leaving your skin vulnerable to damage? It’s true! That’s why adding antioxidant-rich foods to your diet is like giving your body an extra shield against the harmful effects of the sun. Veggies like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and pomegranates are like little superheroes, packed with powerful antioxidants that boost your body’s defense system.

Skin Protection For Runners  – The Conclusion

And there you have it, my fellow sun-loving runners!

In this article, I’ve covered the essential knowledge to safeguard your precious skin while basking in the sun’s warm embrace. No magic spells or mystical potions required here, just good old-fashioned commonsense advice. Now it’s time for you to take the reins and put this wisdom into action. Trust me, the devil’s in the details, and by mastering these tips, you’ll become a sun-smart running champ.

But before we part ways, I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts, questions, or even your own tips in the comment section below. Let’s create a community of sun-savvy runners who support and inspire each other.

In the meantime, a big thank you for dropping by and taking the time to dive into the world of sun protection for runners. Remember, the sun may be fierce, but you’re fiercer. Keep lacing up those running shoes, chase your goals, and run strong, my friend.

With sunny regards,

David D.

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