Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor nor am I an expert on the subject. I'm just sharing my own personal thoughts here.
Runners spend a lot of time outdoors. That's a good thing - I like to think we get plenty of Vitamin D. Plus, whose mood doesn't improve after some time in the sunshine? Unfortunately, according to skincancer.org, marathoners also have a higher risk of developing melanoma.
Melanoma - and cancer in general - is something that scares the bejesus out of me.
Here in Colorado, the UV rays are very intense due to our high altitude and sunny skies. I'm pretty sure that warrants us being even more particular about sun safety. I spend several hours a week outside running, and even though I try to go early in the morning when the sun is low in the sky, I'm still exposing myself to those UV rays. Don't get me wrong, some of that exposure is good and I want to get my daily dose of vitamin D, but I also want to be sure I'm taking care of myself and my skin.
When I run, I am sure to wear sunscreen wherever my skin is exposed, especially if my runs are close to midday.
I have been very happy with the Alba Botanicals sunscreens. Their ingredient list is pretty good as far as sunscreens go, and they work well.
I also wear a hat (or visor if it's really hot) most of the time when I run, even with sunscreen already on my face. I figure the more protection, the better. Plus it's an awesome hat.
(This obviously isn't a running picture, but it shows off my rad swinging friar hat and my cute kids).
Many lines of athletic clothing also produce clothing that has built in SPF, like this shirt from asics that I love. Plus it's yellow and yellow makes me happy.
Here are my tips for sun safety for runners:
- wear sunscreen, a hat, and clothing with UV protection
- avoid running at midday
- wear sunglasses (this isn't a melanoma thing as much as a squinting gives you more wrinkles thing)
- find places to run that offer shade
- run indoors (bleh - but the sun probably won't get you if you're on the treadmill!)
- if it's cool enough, consider wearing long sleeves or pants
- keep an eye on your skin - have it looked over annually by a dermatologist and check your own moles regularly. Particularly be on the lookout for any moles that change over time.
- keep in mind that good sun protection also prevents your body from producing as much Vitamin D so you'll either want to find a good balance or consider supplementing
- if all else fails, enjoy getting a little Vitamin D and smile because it's a beautiful day out!
This morning Melanie and I beat the sun by heading out at 5:30. We had a beautiful sky to watch as the sun slowly crept up over the mountain.