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The Biggest Mistake Runners Make When It Comes To Sun Protection

How many times have you gone out for a short run without sunscreen or a protective layer? Probably too many to count, but even a brief run on a sunny day could result in damage to your skin. As our outdoor mileage increases this spring, so too should our sun protection. We chatted with Carly Benford, Clinical Research Coordinator at the Translational Genomics Research Institute for the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Melanoma Research Alliance Melanoma Dream Team clinical trial. Benford, who began running in 7th grade and continues to participate in 5K’s, 10K’s and half-marathons, shares her tips for how to protect our skin from sun damage while running.

What biggest mistakes do you see runners making when it comes to sun protection? 

The biggest mistake I see runners making when it comes to sun protection is not using it. Many runners don’t expect to be outside for very long and fail to apply sunscreen or wear clothing and accessories that protects them from the sun.

What are the true dangers of running outside? 

Sun damage is a true danger because it can result in life-long consequences, such as skin cancer. Living in Arizona, dehydration is also a danger due to the high temperatures and dry climate in the state. It is very important to make sure you are consuming enough water.

Related: 5 Ways To Drink More Water

What should runners look for when shopping for sunscreen? 

I always consult my dermatologist for what sunscreen they recommend. I tend to look for sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, often termed “broad spectrum” with at least 30 SPF. I also choose sunscreen in a spray can because it is easy to re-apply while outside. Don’t forget SPF 15 lip balm!

What are the first signs of skin cancer and what’s the best way to check for this? 

Any abnormal changes to your skin could be a sign of skin cancer. The best way to check would be to consult with a dermatologist to perform an annual skin examination.

What’s something a runner can do right now to ward off skin cancer? 

Try to plan your runs during hours where sun is less intense, such as early mornings or late afternoons or evenings. If you are going to be in the sun, always make sure to apply sunscreen prior to going outside, and reapply every 1-2 hours. Hats, sunglasses and UV protective clothing are all options, in addition to sunscreen, for protecting yourself from the damages of sun while on a run.

Related: This Out-Of-This-World Hat Does More Than Block The Sun