The Summer Solstice will be taking place in the Northern Hemisphere this week, which means that our wonderful sun will be the closest and strongest that it will be all year long. This makes it a great time for this week’s tip: don’t get burned.
We’ve all experienced sunburn at some point or another. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. Yes, some folks are more prone to it than others (I’m looking at you, blue-eyed and red-haired friends) because their skin is fairer than others and doesn’t produce as much melanin as others’ skin does. As such, they have less built-in protection from the sun.
Even though some folks are more prone to it than others, EVERYONE should seek to avoid being sunburned. Why?? Besides the obvious answer that it’s infinitely more comfortable to exist in skin that isn’t burned, it actually can impact your training to be sunburned. How?? Because like any injury or illness, a sunburn requires more resources from your body to heal. And despite our best efforts to thwart this, our body only has a finite amount of resources/energy that it can divide up. As such, when some of these resources need to be allocated to healing a sunburn, it means that they are pulled away from other areas where they *could* be used, such as executing a workout.
Think about it. When your skin gets burned, it gets hot to the touch. This means that your body’s temperature is actually higher than normal. The area that burns also swells slightly (our body’s normal response to combat something that is wrong and to help repair damaged cells). If the sunburn is very severe, you might actually experience a headache, nausea, fever, blisters, or intense fatigue. How can you possibly be functioning at your best when your body is healing itself from a burn??
So, please set yourselves up for success. Don’t get burned. Wear sunscreen, each and every time you go outside. Wear sunglasses. A little-known fact is that our eyeballs themselves can be sunburned, so sunglasses are super-important. Keep your body able to function at its best so YOU can feel your best when you are completing your workouts and when you are racing. If you participate in a race that takes a long time to complete (such as a marathon or a long-course triathlon), plan to apply sunscreen before the race begins and then plan to re-apply it mid-race. The extra time it takes will be well worth it, I promise.
In the immortal words of Baz Luhrmann, “Trust me on the sunscreen.”
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.