Top Ten Ways For Sun Safety During Long Runs
By Rick Morris
It’s always a good idea to protect your skin from the multi-faceted UV damage of the summer sun, but it becomes even more important when you are cruising through your weekly long run. The two or more hours you spend soaking up the rays during your long run is a double edged sword. You get to enjoy the warmth of the sun and also encourage your body to produce some healthy vitamin D. But those benefits come with the well known costs of skin damage. No worries! You can continue to enjoy your weekly long runs and still avoid skin damage. Here are our top ten tips for sun safety during your long runs.
Cover Your Dome
If you are hair challenged, the sun beats down relentlessly on your scalp. Even if you have hair like Big Foot, those UV rays can make their way down to your sensitive scalp. Wear a hat with a brim for sun safety and to protect both your scalp and your face.
Slop on the Sunscreen
This may seem like a no-brainer these days, but many runners avoid sunscreen either through forgetfulness or intentionally. For sun safety don’t forget to slop the sunscreen on liberally. And remember to use a sunscreen with a high SPF rating of 30 or more.
Make it Sweat Proof
All sunscreens are not alike. You are certainly going to sweat a lot during your summer long runs. That sweat can make many sunscreens fall off like a waterfall. Be sure you are using a sweat proof sunscreen that will stay with you no matter how much you sweat.
Run Early or Late
The sun sends out those UV rays at all hours, but midday running puts you most at risk. Consider running early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is low on the horizon. Not only will the UV risk be minimized but you will also stay cooler.
Protect Your Eyes
Your skin isn’t your only body part that you need to think about for sun safety. You eyes can also be placed at risk. Wear a good pair of sunglasses when running in the sun. Sunglasses with UV protection are an even better choice.
There are times when you just can’t avoid running in the middle of the day, when UV rays are at their highest levels. If you must run at those times you may want to consider an “outside the box” idea – wear long sleeves and long pants. Running in loose fitting, light colored running clothes will keep those rays off your skin and can also help keep you cool when the sun is really burning.
Go High Tech
Those UV rays are just relentless. Of course your bare skin is at risk but the sun’s rays can also penetrate your clothing. Most runners are fine with standard running clothes, but if you are especially sensitive to the UV rays, consider wearing some of the newer high tech running clothes that have UV protection built into the fabric. They are a bit more expensive but are well worth it to protect your precious skin.
When you run in the sun, be sure you are well hydrated both on the inside and the outside. Maintaining proper internal hydration not only helps you avoid heat injury, but will also help keep your skin moist. You will avoid that dreaded dry skin as well as the sun damage. Keep externally hydrated by applying skin moisturizer after your run.
Even the best sweat proof sunscreen will eventually surrender in the face of massive sweat or a cooling dive into a pool of water. Reapply your sunscreen every couple of hours to provide your overworked sunscreen with some reinforcement.
Cover Up the Grey
Nope, I’m not talking about your hair color, I’m referring to the cloud cover. Many distance runners have the mistaken belief that a cloudy day means no UV rays and no need for sunscreen. The UV rays are still coming down, even on an overcast day. So cover up with sunscreen even on grey days.