Fight the Sun

This article on sun safety tips was written by one of our wonderful TriSports Champions,
Elizabeth McCourt.

When I did the Florida 70.3 last year I knew it was going to be hot…really hot. I knew I had the possibility of getting cooked like an egg on the run, so I tried to prepare. I bought white arm coolers that would not only protect my arms from the sun, but add water and “voila!” my own personal air conditioning. I threw water on them and used what I like to call the Torbjørn Sindballe method of cooling (putting ice in your hands and in the sleeves). In addition to the coverage, I lathered myself up with some waterproof sunscreen early in the morning so that it would dry and my numbers wouldn’t smudge (If you try to put it on after body marking it can be a smeared mess!).   At the end of the race I ended up buying a white long sleeve top to get the sun off me as I waited for my friend to finish the run.

As triathletes, we spend a lot of time out in the sun, training and racing.  When World Champion Leanda Cave gets a diagnosis of skin cancer, it’s a wake-up call for all of us. A triathlete friend of mine also got diagnosed with skin cancer last year and I was shocked to learn that she didn’t wear sunscreen. She felt there were too many chemicals in them but she hadn’t researched any alternatives.   Since you absorb what’s put on your skin, you do have to consider the ingredients and if you can, a mineral based sunscreen is a better option, especially on your face where your skin is particularly tender.  I also use something mild on my face so it doesn’t sting my eyes when I sweat, in addition to a visor. It’s a year round ritual, rain or shine.

I’m always going to love being out in the sun in the summertime and in my travels, but the reality is that the sun is strong and damaging. Since we’re not going to avoid being in the sun here are some things to do/remember:

  1. Wear sunscreen and reapply when you can.
  2. Wear a hat or visor.  If you have hair, you’ll protect it. If you’re bald, protect your scalp!
  3. Go to the dermatologist once a year and monitor any moles or freckles that change or darken.
  4. Wear arm coolers for protecting against the sun as well as cooling your body.
  5. Bring a long sleeve top for after racing to get the sun off your skin.
  6. Know that you can get very burned in the swim, depending on the distance, and prepare accordingly (the 10k swim in Bermuda can leave you crispy, as can Kona!)
  7. Remember, white deflects the sun and black absorbs it, so choose your race kit with that in mind.
  8. You can still get a tan even wearing SPF 30!