A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Keeping safe in the summer sun!

on August 7, 2014
When I was writing about my goals on Monday, I forgot one of my most important goals for the month: WEAR SUNSCREEN!
Thanks to our increased time in the sun, runners are at higher risk than the average population for skin cancers and other skin disorders. While we tend to think about safety in terms of avoiding dogs, cars and other obvious dangers, we also need to be aware of sun safety, especially in the summer when we’re wearing skimpier clothes than usual.

As you may have noticed in some of my photos, I’m naturally tan thanks to some Cherokee ancestry. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been sunburned in my life and none of those lasted more than a day or resulted in any peeling or the like. I’m guilty of letting that lull me into a false sense of security. The truth is, no matter your skin type or sunburn history, we all need to take precautions to protect ourselves from sun damage. People with darker skin like mine are more likely to get diagnosed with skin cancer at more advanced stages because both patient and doctor tend to underestimate the risk. I didn’t know until I started writing about this that Bob Marley actually died from melanoma at 36! The melanin that makes my skin darker than my husbands gives me a little bit of extra inherent SPF, but not enough that I can skip sunscreen as often as I do.

I confess, part of my motivation is the fact that I’m officially in my “later thirties” now and those little crinkles around my eyes look more like wrinkles now and I’m definitely getting some lines on my forehead! Regardless of the motivation, I need to protect myself.

Things that can help protect me from sun damage:

Wear sunscreen! The FDA has recently changed the labeling rules for sunscreen to make things a little more clear in terms of choosing sunscreen (see link here for more info). You want to choose a broad spectrum sunscreen, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays (here‘s a nice explanation of those). For workouts in the sun, choose something that is at least SPF 15 and something that is sweat resistant, especially if you’re as sweaty as I am. Don’t forget to reapply if you’re out for more than 2 hours and don’t forget to use it everywhere that’s exposed to the sun, including the tops of your ears and anything that might be more exposed thanks to mesh inserts in your shirt/shorts. Tip: You may want to avoid putting sunscreen on your forehead if you’re a super sweater like I am to keep the sunscreen from running into your eyes. You absolutely MUST wear a hat if you do this though! Be sure to put your sunscreen on before you head out so that it has time to penetrate and be sure to use plenty!

I'm including sunscreen for my hair in my stash because I need to protect those highlights, right?

I’m including sunscreen for my hair in my stash because I need to protect those highlights, right?

Cover up: Hard to do in the summer, I know, but at least choose a hat with a visor to provide some protection for your face and as much clothing covering your skin as the heat will let you safely handle. There are fabrics out there with SPF built in, which can be particularly helpful.

Avoid peak sun exposure times of the day: The UV rays are most intense between 10 am and 4 pm, so avoid those times if you can. Most of us try to avoid that anyway just for temperature reasons, right? 🙂

Choose a shaded or covered path: Any physical barrier between you and the sun is protective, so choose a shady path whenever possible to decrease the amount of sun exposure you’re getting.

Check your skin monthly for any new or unusual spots: This should also be done annually with your doctor’s office, especially if you have other risk factors like a family history of skin cancers or fair skin. All of us should keep an eye on our skin – enlist a partner or a mirror to help. Anything that is new, changing, irregular or otherwise concerning should be checked out by a physician ASAP.
I keep my running gear in this bench in my foyer and have added sunscreen to the basket!

I keep my running gear in this bench in my foyer and have added sunscreen to the basket!

This month, I’m going to be more diligent with my sunscreen. I’ve moved a tube of sunscreen to the entryway with the rest of my running gear so I’ll see it every time I grab my headphones and Road ID. Be sure to protect yourselves friends!

Articles for more information:

Great article with graphics specifically addressing skin cancer risks in those of us with darker skin: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/skin-cancer-and-skin-of-color

Good general tips for sun protection http://www.skincancer.org/prevention

Skin protection tips particularly for runners http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/save-your-skin-0

A couple of good articles on vitamin D and sun exposure: In a nutshell, get vitamin D through diet and supplements and wear your sunscreen! http://www.skincancerprevention.org/skin-cancer/vitamin-d
http://www.skincancer.org/healthy-lifestyle/vitamin-d/the-d-dilemma

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2 responses to “Keeping safe in the summer sun!

  1. Great post and tips! Skin protection is way too easy to forget during quick summer time runs, but man is it important!

    • I looked down the other day to see my very distinct tan line from my running shorts and realized I was getting a lot more sun than I realized!

      On Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 9:14 AM, A Little More Each Day wrote:

      >

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