Wednesday, October 12, 2016

When Running Rubs You the Wrong Way

While spectating Sunday's Chicago Marathon, Marcia commented on a guy running by with bloody nipples. I was busy scanning the crowd for our runners and of course, missed that spectacle.

"It's only mile 13," she commented. "He's going to have a tough race!" Indeed.

I thought about this. So many jokes have been made about bloody nipples that I didn't think it was a thing anymore. Apparently, that guy didn't get the memo about prevention.

Of course, if you are a long distance runner, you've experienced some sort of chafing. Sweat +friction=chafing. Hopefully, for most of us, it's not bloody nipples (ladies, am I right?). But it's the rare runner who hasn't experienced some sort of skin irritation in areas unknown.

Unknown, that is, until the post-race shower....

When Running Rubs You the Wrong Way


Ahhh....the post-race shower. There's no better feeling than stripping off your stinky, sweaty running clothes and rinsing away all the blood sweat and tears. Am I right?

When Running Rubs You the Wrong Way

Do you know this feeling? The hot water hits a spot in places unknown, searing pain bringing shock and awe to the unsuspecting runner.

Chafing. We've all been there, and if you haven't, you're not doing it right. Chafing is using the result of frictional forces at work. Moisture, salty sweat, and skin rubbing together is the perfect recipe for irritation.

What's a runner to do? As with most things, prevention is the key. Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for a long run/race to avoid the dreaded chafing:

No new clothes on race day. Actually nothing new. 
Make sure you road test everything you plan to wear at your race. Again and again. You want to make sure there are no seams or edges that irritate your skin. And even if you're wearing something that's tried and true, you might still chafe. That happened to me this past summer--a running skirt I've worn a million times gave me trouble on my thighs. It wasn't horrible, but it was a good reminder that chafing happens, even when you least expect it.

When Running Rubs You the Wrong Way

No cotton, ever. Never.
If you are a new runner, let me share a not so secret secret. Never ever wear cotton anywhere on your body. This includes socks and underwear. Running clothes should be synthetic and wicking. Too expensive for you? Not where I shop. Go to Target, WalMart (if you must), TJMaxx, Marshalls, and Ross. You can find name brands super cheap. You have no excuse for wearing cotton.

When Running Rubs You the Wrong Way

Wear your bra inside out. Or invest in some new bras.
I have never heard of wearing my sports bra inside out until I was writing this post. My OCD started to twitch at the thought of it, but it really makes sense. The most common area of chafing for me is along the bra line, where the elastic rubs my skin. Prior to a long run, I usually slather Body Glide under there but sometimes that isn't enough. I recently bought some new bras and clearly the manufacturers are listening to the customers--I've experienced minimal chafing in these! These new bras are so different from anything I've run in before. I'll share more in a future post.

Prepare your skin prior to the race. 
There are a few good chafing products on the market--I love Body Glide for my arms, legs, and bra line. I know some runners use it for the nether regions as well. I've used cycling chamois products for my lady bits--a couple favorites are Hoo Ha Ride Glide (it's warming too) and Chamois But'r. The problems with these products is that they don't always go the distance.  Let me be a bit more blunt. The area between the butt cheeks, the gluteal crease, can rub and yep, chafe. Vaseline, Aquaphor, and other petroleum-based gels just melt away with the sweat. By mile 8-9, you can kiss your smooth baby bottom goodbye. I actually prefer to use a thick cream like Butt Paste or Triple Paste for that area. If it's good enough for diaper rash, it's good enough for me. And when things get desperate, I've used ChapStick.

When Running Rubs You the Wrong Way


Protect your nipples.
Not just for men--I know some ladies let the girls fly free. I don't but as a public service, I wanted to make sure everyone has the information they need to run chafe-free. You can use bandaids, but why do that when you can use NipGuards? Pretty ingenious, they fit around the nipple, not on it. And if you are super hairy, you don't have to worry about that either. Of course, you could just use BodyGlide. Or you could wear a bro.

What if you do chafe? What to do?
Even though it is painful, showering and cleaning the area is important to prevent infection. Gently pat the area dry and apply hydrocortisone ointment to help calm the inflammation and lubricate the area.

When Running Rubs You the Wrong Way

Have you experienced chafing? What is your favorite tip to prevent chafing? Any horror stories to share?

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word, which is irritable. I could have written a whole post on how irritable I've been lately but who wants to read that? I'm also linking up with Debbie, Susie, Rachel, and Lora for Coaches' Corner!



76 comments :

  1. CHAFING IS THE DEVIL!!!!! There have been SO MANY TIMES this summer that I've gotten in the shower and felt the burn and no, it was not for Bernie! The pain! The humanity!!! The chafing!!!!! #thestruggleisreal

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  2. Knock (very loudly) on wood, I have never had much chafing. I know, I'm totally jinxing myself with that statement. Recently, though, after several hours in my sweaty (though air-dried) running clothes, I got in the car to ride home with the husband. Apparently, the skin on upper, UPPER (inner) thighs was still a little sticky...and when I tried to "slide" out of the car at a rest area....HOLY OUCH! I think I left the top layer of delicate skin on the car seat. TMI....

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    1. Seriously? I feel like just when I get the chafing thing figured out, I chafe.

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  3. OMG! I'm cringing just thinking about this. UGH!!! Great tips though because it does happen to everyone at least once.

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  4. It's so totally random for me, but yes, I've definitely had my share. Never with the nipples -- because I'm small on top? Almost never with the bra band. Underarm is where it usually attacks me. I use hammer seat saver. And sometimes carry a lip balm with me. I also occasionally get chub rub.

    My best advice is to apply anti chafing cream to those chafed areas BEFORE showering. No pain. I've tested that!

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    1. That's good advice! You can also put the hydrocortisone ointment on them and wait about 15 mins--that seems to help too.

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  5. Every time I think I have the chafing thing all figured out, I lose weight & my clothes fit differently & I have to start all over again. I always say "sunscreen all the parts that show, BodyGlide all the parts that don't". And when I miss a spot & end up with chafing, I use A&D Ointment to heal it. Also, not chafing related but another neat thing about BodyGlide: put it on your eyebrows to keep sweat from running down into your eyes.

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  6. I've had that shower scream! I keep a tiny tube of Aquaphor in the shower, so I can quickly cover the offending area and still shower in relative peace.

    I love 2Toms for the bra band area - I roll that stuff on and so far, I've been OK with no chafing.

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    1. I've never heard of 2 Toms but I will be checking it out! Thanks for the suggestion.

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  7. I don't usually chafe but sometimes on long runs I do on the bra strap not on the nipples. Showering is so painful after that!

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    1. Back in the day when I was breastfeeding and carrying a much large load (ahem), I had serious chafing on my shoulders.

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  8. Oh the chafing. It got really bad for me when I was pregnant and still trying to squeeze into my old sports bras. Body Glide is definitely a runner's best friend.

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  9. You know what? I wore a cotton tee to my first marathon in 1998 and it was fine AND I wore a cotton tank at the marathon I just did in September and the fact that it didn't wick sweat away from my body saved my life! Because it got so hot near the end of the race that my wet tank acted to cool off my body. Seriously! But yeah, usually cotton is a bad, bad thing.

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    1. There's always that one outlier in the crowd...I used to run in cotton back in the day and didn't have too many issues either. But I know plenty of people who have. And cotton socks are a shortcut to blisters. That I can attest to.

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  10. This post is brilliant !! Thank you!!

    I've had my worst chaffing after the Philly RnR Half! the humidity melted the body glide away from all the key places... say the boob areas!!

    Ali (from Hit the Ground Running) suggested deodorant between the boobs and between legs. This one helped my sister for her tighs.

    Question for you on the Hydrocortisone. When I had my boob chaffing I accidentally put on Hydrocortisone after the shower, and it burned really bad! I had to wipe it off. I used Bacitracin instead, and that didn't burn. Which one is better to use to heal the skin?

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    1. I had heard of deodorant as a skin protectant. Makes sense to me.

      I think anything that soothes the skin is ok to use. I like Bacitracin too.

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  11. So please tell me how one chafes at the nipples?

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  12. I had ZERO chafing in Chicago. I love my Trail Toes -- and yes it goes everywhere. I'll never use anything else.

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    1. I've never heard of that product! Heading to Google as we speak.

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  13. Don't hate me. Never had chafing!

    Now blisters. That's a different story. Must have sweaty feet.

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    1. Only once or twice have I had blisters. So I guess you get a pass on no chafing.

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  14. Unfortunately I got some horrible chaffing from my hydration pack this summer and I still have a scar from it! It's so gross. It doesn't help that I'm still a little tan. Makes the scar more prominent.

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    1. Ooooh. Sounds painful. Last year when I ran Chicago, I saw a guy with the most horrible chafing on his back from his costume. I'm sure he will never do that again.

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  15. Oh so true and such good advice! I'm terrible at using anything to prevent chafing. I am too optimistic and either forget or think I'll be fine, but on hot/humid days this summer I learned the hard way! The worst spot for me is under my arms when wearing a tank top. I got it bad from the marathon Sunday and was wincing with pain in the shower... the worst feeling!

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    1. I often forget to prep as well! You'd think after all these years, I'd know better.

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  16. Ive had some epic chafing in the summer. No matter how much body glide I apply my pack would rub a raw spot somewhere on my back...Ohhhh, the pain in the shower. I used antibiotic cream after and it helped.
    I just ordered 2Toms roll on again and it so slimy! I am going to use this stuff for awhile.

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    1. I need to check out 2Toms! Holly mentioned it as well.

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  17. So my shoes on Friday rubbed me really badly. And then we got pedicures. With a salt scrub. KILL ME

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    1. Ouch! But I bet your toes look pretty!

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  18. I made this mistake of breaking the no new clothes on race day rule and I paid the chafing price dearly! There were so many things wrong with what I did til I couldn't even list them all! But I rocked my costume! ;) I'd so try the Hoo Ha Ride Glide just so I could see the reaction of my husband when he read the label it! Being honest here! Bahahaha!

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    1. That's why I mentioned the warming sensation. In case the name didn't intrigue you enough...

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  19. Oh my gawd, just reading this I could feel the pain of chaffing this past summer, that's when I seem to get it the most. Body glide and good/new bras are key for me. Oh man I hate chaffing!!

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    1. I always chafe in the areas I least expect!

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  20. I've chaffed in so many places, this post made me hurt! The biggest adjustment for me was going from dry So Cal to humid Hawaii. I had no idea how much more I would chafe. Body Glide, never leave home without it!

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    1. The moisture really makes chafing inevitable. I don't chafe nearly as much in the cooler temps.

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  21. The shower after the run is the worsttttt!!!! I use bodyglide before most runs now, and it really helps. I saw a guy at the half I did last weekend shamelessly pull up his shirt to put bandaids on his nips. A+ for preparation but uhhhh couldn't you nip tape up before getting to the corrals?

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  22. Oh, lordy me. I don't chafe often, but when I do... Nope. In fact, the first time I ever chafed was during my first marathon. I had already been running for a few years without incident, and it was just insult to injury when I got in the shower after 26.2 grueling miles and ... well. You know. I have one spot on my back under my bra line that will sometimes chafe and sometimes, the underside of my chest will succumb. There's a bit of a scar there from it, which is pretty depressing.

    I will use the Skin Strong spray. That's my favorite remedy. If I remember.

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    1. Another remedy I haven't heard of! I'm going to check it out.

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  23. Just the thought of chafing makes me cringe. heeby geebie ouchies. Love these tips thanks for sharing!

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    1. After watching the marathon, all those ouchy feelings came back!

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  24. I've never heard of the bra inside out, but that is exactly where I tend to have problems - the bra line. I'm glad it's not just me. And you are so right, if I had a dollar for every time I got in the shower unsuspecting and then #%$#$#@^^!!! Good tips. I've also tried the Body Glide and Body Glide for women (in a pink container), but can't really feel any difference. You?

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    1. I've found Body Glide to be helpful in the underarm area and the bra line, but in other unmentionable areas, I need something stronger.

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  25. I legit have a chafed booty as I type this because I forgot to use body glide!

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  26. Ugh, chafing is the worst!! I feel like it comes on so randomly that I will think I am safe and then it will hit me out of the blue. Sometimes I will get it on my inner thighs if my shorts start rubbing in a weird way. But I can wear those same shorts for a million other runs and feel fine! That post-chafing shower is terrible!!

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    1. I think the post-chafing shower is the worst when you aren't expecting the searing pain...

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  27. So you hit the nail on the head...never anything new on race day. I decided to wear arm sleeves (never wore them before, AND never had any chafing during training) for the Chicago marathon 2012, and OMG I chafed like a fool under my arms from the sleeves! OUCH!

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    1. Ouch is right! It's amazing how some innocent looking piece of cloth can cause so much pain!

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  28. Post race shower are the worst!!! Hahah I've def screamed bloody murder!

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  29. Ah love these tips Wendy! A worn in running skirt also did it to me this past summer...and that post race shower can sometimes be the worst if you have chafing!

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    1. I think it's the element of surprise that gets me--I mean, if you knew it was going to hurt you could mentally prepare yourself!

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  30. Oh yeah that shower scene says it all! Never occurred to me to wear my sports bra inside out.

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    1. Me either! I'm going to try it and report back.

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  31. chafing is the worst! I am a huge fan of aquaphor and have my go to outfits to guarantee no rub! There was a guy with bloody nipples right in my 70.3 finisher photo, not a good way to photobomb dude!

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    1. Ewww! Glad I didn't see the guy at Chicago either!

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  32. Ok chafing is horrible-I am more sports bra chafing incident away from needing a skin graft- it is awful!!! Message me about your new sports bras- I am chafing/dying to know!

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    1. Yikes! I'll PM you the info. I'm loving this new bra.

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  33. Great post! I have only recently experienced chafing and it hurts, bad. Body glide is my friend.

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    1. Oh, I'm so sorry that you had to experience it at all!

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  34. Great post! I've never been so happy to see anything as I was at one of my MCM's when I saw a Marine holding out a tongue depressor with a gob of Vaseline on it. I'd just start chafing where the back of my arms rubbed against my body after my Body Glide gave rubbed off.

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. That happened to me when I was running Sarasota in March. That stick o'vaseline was the best thing ever. I completely forgot about it until now! Thanks for the memories...

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  35. Hey Wendy, I can certainly handle physical pain. Mental pain not so much unfortunately. Not my specialty. Achilles heel. I admit that I somehow dish out a lil of it, but the return payment is usually greater, like "OUCH."

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  36. ugh...ouch! I have not had any major chaffing thank goodness but one time I was out running w/ this running brace and it gave me the most epic blood blister on top of my foot (think: can feel the liquid sloshing around inside of it....it was bad).

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    1. I actually had to -- it was about 2 inches long and filled w/ blood. So then I had to turn my attention to keeping it clean and dry. It was quite the ordeal and I guess if you are not a runner you don't get it, but we are kind of crazy in what we do.

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    2. This might sound sick to anyone who isn't in the medical profession, but I actually like draining blisters and abcesses. There's a certain satisfaction....

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    3. It does not sound sick to me at all...I get it. I like to pick and pop things as well--it's a problem but it's just very cathartic and satisfying to watch that whole process!

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