Though triathlon comes with a great number of health and vanity benefits (hello, sexy swimmer shoulders!), there’s still a few, ahem, “issues” female triathletes encounter, from uncomfortable bouncing boobs to painful saddle sores. The best defense is a good offense. Avoid these common triathlete troubles with simple prevention strategies:
“Down there” drama
Sores in the groin, rear end and upper thighs can make cycling uncomfortable—or worse, become infected and painful. These nuisances, caused by chafing, blocked hair follicles or excess pressure on the crotch, typically manifest themselves as red, tender lumps. To avoid these sores:
- Make sure your saddle is positioned correctly. A proper bike fit is key for comfort and prevention of sores.
- Use a chamois cream with antibacterial properties. Hoo Ha Ride Glide ($21.95, Reflectsports.com) contains tea tree and peppermint oils.
- Never wear underwear with your cycling shorts, and always wash dirty shorts before wearing again—even if they were only worn for a short ride!
Support “the girls”
Though many tri tops and suits have built-in sports bras, some wom-en may find they need a little extra support. When selecting a sports bra:
- Try on multiple brands. Test their comfort by reaching up over your head and jogging in place.
- Choose a bra with a snug band and straps that don’t dig into your shoulders.
- Stay away from cotton fabrics, which will retain water from the swim and lead to chafing. Instead, look for technical, moisture-wicking fabrics. Still haven’t found “the one?” Go to Titlenine.com, where “bra- vangelists” will help find a perfect fit for every body.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than two mil-lion people are diagnosed annually, and more than 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging are caused by the sun. Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention—and so simple too!
- Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and apply 1 ounce every two hours; many sweat- and water-resistant brands are available for triathletes, like Endurance Shield ($12.99 for 2 oz., Enduranceshield.com).
- Look for clothing carrying an Ultraviolet Protection Factor, or UPF rating, for an added layer of sun safety.
- Ride in the trainer or swim in an indoor pool when possible—especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
Eau de Chlorine
Even the most expensive perfume can’t mask the smell of chlorine. The water in swimming pools can leave swimmers with dry, brittle, itchy hair and skin. Soap and shampoo post-swim can help, but a vitamin C-based treatment like SwimSpray ($12.95, Swimspray.com) can counteract the residual chlorine, leaving skin and hair soft and odor-free.
A rite of passage for many triathletes is the “wetsuit hickey,” a large, red blotch on the neck caused by chafing where the suit meets the skin. Triathletes can experience irritation in any location where friction is applied to the skin: in the armpit, under a heart-rate strap, along the inner thighs or under the toes. Minimize friction by wearing snug, moisture-wicking clothing with few seams and applying a lubricant such as Body Glide, ($9.99, most running/triathlon stores) to areas prone to chafing.