Running as a pastime has made me comfortable in my own skin. Unfortunately, my skin itself may not be so comfortable with running.
Although running has done excellent things for my overall complexion — from fewer breakouts to better blood flow to decreased signs of aging — all that extra time spent outdoors has one major consequence: it significantly ups my risk for melanoma.
I don’t usually discuss serious subjects on this blog like skin disease or the looming avocado shortage, but considering this is a health and fitness blog, I should probably address the ways in which my fitness could be damaging my health. Also, I just visited the no-compromise-about-it Angela Merkel of dermatology, and she scared the living daylights out of me. (“Nein! Do not use the vord daylights vithout vearing a hat!”)
When I visited her office for the first time last week, she took one glance at my skin and knew I was a runner. Even though I mostly run at 6 a.m. before the sun is at full blast and spend most of my time lapping the partially shaded reservoir, the hours I spend hitting the pavement are apparent, she said. And then she dropped the C word (“cancer,” come on, guys) and warned me my risk was elevated. Fortunately, no suspicious moles or markings this trip, but the Chancellor certainly got my attention.
Some of her recommendations seemed over the top — run in long sleeves, buy a hat that covers the back of my neck, look like a total nerd on the race course — but her message certainly hit home. Prone to overheating, I usually run in as little clothing as I can, and I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally slathered on sunscreen before a race. So I did what any modern woman would do: I went to Amazon, and I went wild.
I started by buying myself a running hat, and then (to my boyfriend’s humiliation) a sweet visor. Then I purchased some running sunglasses, a two-pack of good sunscreen and a summer fedora for gallivanting around town. Sure, hats are for hipsters, but they are also for the health-conscious, and it was high time I stopped borrowing Ben’s. (Just kidding, Ben, I’ll never stop. P.S. Can I borrow your superior fedora Saturday? K thanks love you bye.)
Will this newfound appreciation for skincare make a difference going forward and undo some of the damage I’ve done? I guess time will tell. But at least when it comes to proper sun protection, I can finally say I’ve got some skin in the game.
How do you protect your skin while training for a marathon?