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Protect Yourself from the Sun and Improve Your Form

Although you should be protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays throughout the year, the start of summer is a good time to remind yourself of the importance of using sunscreen and wearing a hat when you are going out for a run, particularly if you are running between the hours of 10-4. I wrote all about the necessity of protecting yourself from the sun around this time last year. Here’s the link to the still-relevant blog:

Running in the sun is fun – just be sure to protect yourself.

All this advice still holds. It turns out that most clothing is fairly good at protecting against UV rays, with polyester doing a particularly good job at disrupting UV light because of the hydrogen- and carbon-based benzene rings within the polymer. Most running apparel is made primarily out of polyester, so you can be reasonably confident that you will have some protection if you are wearing your running gear. If you’re particularly sensitive to the sun’s rays, you might want to take U.S. marathon record-holder Deena Kastor’s approach and don a long-sleeve shirt during your training runs.

Don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen and if you are out for a longer period of time (perhaps doing some interval work on the track?), be sure to reapply. The most common mistake sun-sensitive people make is not reapplying their sunscreen.

Don’t forget this. Anything above 30 SPF is good. Reapply!

It’s also necessary to protect one’s eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunglasses, of course, will offer protection against damaging UV rays and it is a good idea to invest in a pair.

Tifosi makes performance sunglasses in many styles with interchangeable lenses

Sunglasses can also help you to improve your running form –– no, really! Relaxed running is the key to fast and efficient running. A tight face can lead to a clenched jaw and a clenched jaw inhibits oxygen intake. Facial muscles also control the degree of tension throughout your entire body. Thus, it is critical to relax your face. When the sun is brightly shining, we have the tendency to squint against the glare and squinting contributes to facial tension. This is one of the reasons that elite runners often wear sunglasses. It’s not just because they like to look cool and advertise sponsored product; it’s also that avoiding sun-induced eyestrain allows their eyes (and face, and body) to be more relaxed.

Meb won the Boston Marathon (and looked cool) wearing sunglasses.

Isn’t it nice when doing something good for your skin and eyes can make you feel better and maybe even run faster? With the approach of summer, we would really like to hear about your advice for summer running. Please tell us about your summer running experiences in the comments.

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