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This is how to protect yourself from the sun while running

Despite it mostly being an outdoor activity, many runners don’t pay enough attention to sun protection while running. After being diagnosed with melanoma no less than three times during her career, Olympic marathon runner Deena Kastor has become a vocal advocate of slathering on the sunscreen and using other methods to ensure one is protected against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Kastor maintains that regular check-ups with a dermatologist should be habitual for runners, saying, “I feel grateful for early detection, but that’s why I try to encourage people to [get checked] once a year because if something does emerge, a good eye of a dermatologist can get it out immediately and you don’t have to have further complications. As with any cancer, early detection is critical.”

Of course, prevention is better than cure, which is why it is of the essence to pay attention to protecting your skin against the sun in any way you can. Here’s how.

Put on sunscreen every day

In a climate as hot and sunny as South Africa’s, everyone should pay attention to putting on sunscreen every day – whether they’re regular runners or not. However, runners are at particular risk of drawing the ire of our nearest star, which is why it is extremely important to smooth on a sweat-proof sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 before heading out on your daily run. Even when the sun is hidden behind clouds, it can still pack a mean punch, so don’t skimp on sunscreen if you go running on a cloudy day. Put on sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going out to give your skin enough chance to absorb this important lotion.

Apply sunscreen before putting on your running gear

Make sure to apply sunscreen before you put on your running gear, especially if you prefer running attire that is made from mesh or thin fabric. While you may think those parts of your body that are covered are protected from the sun, pesky UVA and UVB rays may still find their way in. Don’t forget to also put sunscreen on areas that we often forget about, but are still susceptible to sun damage, like the lips and hands.

Choose the correct time of day to go running

The sun is at its most scorching between 10:00 and 16:00, so if it is possible, schedule your run outside these hours. If you absolutely have to go running at the hottest time of day, opt for shady routes with plenty of tree or other cover.

Reapply sunscreen after two hours

Even when using a sunscreen that is sweat-resistant and long lasting, you should always reapply after two hours if you are going on a long run or hike. Pack a small tube of sunscreen for this purpose before heading out.

Wear a visor, hat or cap and sunglasses

Remember that the sun can also damage your eyes – a good pair of shades with UV protection is a godsend in this regard. For further protection on your face, wear a visor, hat or cap every time you take to the road or trails.

On’s Lightweight Caps for men and women are the perfect companion to your run, no matter what the weather is like.

While the cap offers superior sun protection, its laser cut ventilation technology and quick-drying, breathable, tear-proof woven fabric ensures that you stay dry, even when the sun is hidden behind clouds and rain starts pouring down. Featuring ultra-soft sweatbands and clip-pull sizing, the unisex Lightweight Cap is available in black, grey and navy. To get yours, click here.

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