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Triathlete’s Guide to Sun UV Protection

As we gear up for another season of training and racing, there’s one essential factor we cannot afford to overlook: sun protection.

While we’re busy conquering the swim, bike, and run, it’s easy to forget about the silent but significant threat looming above us – the sun.

So, let’s dive into why UV protection should be a non-negotiable part of our triathlon journey, along with some practical tips to keep you safe under the sun.

Why Sun Protection Matters

First things first, let’s talk about why sun protection is crucial for every triathlete. While we’re out there crushing miles, the sun’s harmful UV rays are busy wreaking havoc on our skin.

Overexposure to UV radiation not only causes immediate discomfort like sunburn but also poses long-term risks such as premature aging, skin cancer, and even eye damage.

Skin Damage

Sun damage is no joke, folks. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can lead to a myriad of skin issues, including sunburn, wrinkles, age spots, and worst of all, skin cancer. As triathletes, we spend countless hours training under the sun, making us particularly susceptible to these risks. But fear not, my friends, because with the right precautions, we can enjoy our sport while keeping our skin safe and healthy.

Protection During Cycling

Whether you’re cruising down the road or tackling challenging terrain, cycling exposes us to direct sunlight for extended periods. To shield yourself from harmful UV rays while cycling:

  • Wear sunscreen: Choose a sweat-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Don’t forget to reapply every couple of hours, especially during long rides. Get a pack that is small so you can easily store it on your bike or in your cycling jersey pockets.
  • Rock those shades: Invest in a pair of UV-protective sunglasses to shield your eyes from both UV rays and pesky bugs or debris.
  • Cover up: Consider wearing lightweight, long-sleeved jerseys and UV-protective arm sleeves to minimize sun exposure on your arms and upper body.

Protection During Running

Pounding the pavement under the blazing sun? Here’s how to stay protected while running:

  • Slather on sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin, including your face, neck, arms, and legs. Look for sweat-proof formulas to ensure lasting protection. Choose a brand that say’s “Water and sweat resistance rated for 80 minutes”.
  • Sport a cap or visor: Use a lightweight, breathable cap or visor to shield your face and eyes from direct sunlight. Bonus points if it has a built-in UV protective layer!
  • Seek shade: Whenever possible, choose running routes that offer ample shade, such as tree-lined trails or paths with overhead coverings.

Protection During Swimming

Ah, the refreshing waters of the swim leg – a welcome relief from the scorching heat. But even underwater, UV rays can penetrate and cause damage. Here’s how to stay sun-safe while swimming:

  • Water-resistant sunscreen: Choose a water-resistant sunscreen specifically designed for swimming activities. Apply generously before hitting the water and reapply as needed, especially after toweling off.
  • Swimwear with built-in UV protection: Invest in swimwear made from UV-protective fabric to provide an additional layer of defense against harmful rays.
  • Don’t forget your head: Protect your scalp and hairline by wearing a swim cap or applying sunscreen to these often-overlooked areas.

Risks of Ignoring Sun Protection

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room – the risks of ignoring sun protection. From painful sunburns to the increased risk of skin cancer, the consequences of UV overexposure are not to be taken lightly.

As triathletes, our bodies are our most valuable asset, and protecting our skin should be a top priority. By incorporating simple sun-safe practices into our training and racing routine, we can enjoy our sport for years to come, all while keeping our skin happy and healthy.

So, fellow triathletes, let’s pledge to make sun protection an integral part of our journey – from the starting line to the finish chute. Together, we can race safely under the sun and continue to pursue our passion for triathlon with confidence and peace of mind. Stay safe, stay sun-protected, and keep chasing those finish lines!

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Karen Parnell
Karen Parnellhttps://chilitri.com/one-to-one-coaching
Karen Parnell is a Level 3 British Triathlon and IRONMAN Certified Coach, WOWSA Level 3 open water swimming coach,  80/20 Endurance certified coach and NASM Personal Trainer and Sports Technology Writer. Need a training plan? I have plans on TrainingPeaks, FinalSurge and TrainingTilt: TrainingPeaks FinalSurge TrainingTilt I also coach a very small number of athletes one to one for all triathlon distances, open water swimming events and running races, email me for details and availability. Karen.parnell@chilitri.com


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