Any regular runner knows, this sport can be very unkind to the body. I’m not talking stress fractures and IT Band Syndrome. I’m talking about the other pesky hazards you encounter when clocking long miles – chafing, blisters, and bugs, oh my!
For me, the blisters started in high school. Too often at running camp (yes, I went to running camp 3 summers in a row), I would end my day by the infirmary soaking my feet in Epsom salt. Soon after I learned a trick – shampoo! Put a little on your feet before a run and it would lather up as you start to sweat, creating the perfect lubricant to keep your feet blister free. Note: Be wary when it’s raining as the lather may go beyond your sneakers causing your mates to think your feet have Rabies).
As I kicked off my running renaissance in 2012, the blisters continued. And they were bigger and better than ever.
I also had the privilege of creating my first black toe nail, which I proudly let fester for 2 months until it fell off and I gifted it to my best friend for her birthday (years later she reciprocated by giving me some skin off her finger). Lesson learned: keep your toenails trim, especially when running long distances.
While many view innovation as good, I wasn’t happy when running decided to terrorize my body in a new way… chafing. In a family of chicken legs, I reign supreme with my mighty thighs. I like to think they are the way they are because I am a runner (and women need extra sturdiness to bear children), so it was disappointing to learn they are also a liability. I quickly discovered how painful showering can be when you have raw skin. Body Glide became my savior. Of course I felt inclined to purchase their smaller pink product, until I learned it was marketing scheme and the larger blue product marketed toward men worked just the same for a lower price.
But chafing didn’t just stop at my thighs. It discovered its new favorite spot – right around the band of my sports bra, and occasionally for kicks, near my armpit. (We can get into the butt too, but I stopped wearing underwear on long runs and that solved that). During the 2014 NYC Marathon, I cemented my now permanent scar centered on the top of my ribcage to remind me all of the painfully beautiful miles I have put in.
My go-to solution is now Vaseline. While I do worry if this product will give me cancer, I am proud to say that after the 2016 NYC Marathon, it helped me to finish the race without a single chafe mark or blister on my body. Now that is an accomplishment!
Lastly and just for kicks, I wanted to raise the issue of bugs. If you happen to run near any water in the summer months, you’ll likely come across flies. Any man running topless, I can only wonder if chest works as well as a fly zapper as my sports bra does.
Alright, one last thing for real this time, make sure to wear sunblock! The sun is strong, and while a tan may look nice, burns and skin cancer are not. Pile it on and wear a hat – it will keep you cool, the sun off your face, and stop sweat from dripping into your eyes.