The Skin Nerd: Avoid running into skin trouble on marathon day

With the Cork City Marathon coming up on June 2, many are lacing up their Asics, strapping on their armbands and getting that crucial training in, writes Jennifer Rock.

Running is arguably one of the more invigorating forms of fitness, and although it has the definite benefit of increasing blood flow to the skin, bringing about a general radiance, some find that it brings out the worst in their skin too.

Chafing, sweating and heat are part and parcel of becoming the next Paula Radcliffe but there is plenty you can do to reduce the effects.

Chafing is caused by repetitive friction against the skin, leading to redness, tenderness and in some particularly awful cases, blisters.

Chafing is more likely to occur on wet skin so invest in moisture-wicking workout gear. You’ve probably heard of soaking up excess moisture with powders like talcum powder.

I actually usually suggest a different route. Lubricate the skin with a natural oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil, as it will create a layer on the skin that will prevent friction from occurring.

If you’re not sweating when you’re running, you’re either cyborg-level fit or you’re not doing it right.

The majority of people don’t experience issues when it comes to sweating, but for some it means clogged pores post-workout, irritation or even stinging.

It’s not sweat itself that causes spots. It’s more that leaving sweat on the skin contributes to the type of environment that bacteria loves: a moist environment.

If you’re prone to bumps and spots on your skin, shower in lukewarm water directly after your run with a salicylic acid or tea tree cleanser as your shower gel.

Both of these ingredients are antibacterial so will help to reduce those dastardly spots and blackheads.

You deserve a pat on the back for remembering to put SPF on before going for your run, but your SPF may be what is causing that stinging sensation.

This isn’t caused by all SPFs but SPFs featuring chemical filters can do this as they work by trapping UV rays in the skin and transforming them into heat.

Switch to a water-resistant mineral (physical) filter SPF and see if this makes a difference.

Speaking of heat, “overheating” is not uncommon in the running world and we have plenty of clients asking what to do about the uncomfortably hot and incredibly red skin they’re left with for half an hour after exercising.

In this case, the simplest solution is the most effective: cold compresses.

Rinse yourself with cold water and then press icy cold flannels onto your skin to bring down that redness.

For when it’s actually marathon day, ask whoever will be cheering you on to keep a Spritz O’Clock (aka a hydrating facial mist) in a dark, well-insulated bag and then spritz that heat away.

If you are an overheater, you need to adapt your post-running skincare routine to work with this.

Any creams or lotions that are oil-based or occlusive (film-forming) in nature should be skipped, as they work by creating a protective, moisturising barrier on the skin.

An “unbreathable” barrier of this kind will allow that heat to make a home, so go for a simple, oil-free cleanser, a light serum, an oil-free SPF and nothing else.

If you’re a lucky duck who sees none of the skin negatives above when training, don’t forget that you should still be cleansing and washing directly after your run with a mild, gentle cleanser and wearing an SPF.

If you think you can outrun the sun and UV rays, you’ve got another thing coming.

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