My battles with chafing

So, I’ve never really had “chafing” problems before. Most of my athletic career has been chafe free for the most part. However, training for ultra’s has brought this little problem to the forefront of things I have had to deal with. In this blog I discuss my personal struggles with chafing and what solutions I have come up with so far.

Like I said before, I’ve never really had to worry about chafing until recently. I have had a few blisters here and there on my feet. In one of my marathon’s the blister was so bad I bled through my socks and shoes. Chafing has also occurred in minor ways from my shorts or shirts that I wore on longer runs. The sudden increase in chafing I have had recently can be contributed to a few things. First, I have this new heart rate monitor that have worn on my chest and it kept digging in deep. I have scars all over my chest in attempts to position it in different spots. I also tried band aids and athletic tape to cover up potential problem areas before my runs as well as tried using duc tape and other materials on my heart rate monitor itself to prevent the rubbing that was happening with my skin. Yes, I adjusted the tightness of my heart rate monitor and even wore it way off center (as suggested by the manufacturer). Nothing worked very well. I think it mainly had to do with the fact I was wearing the heart rate monitor for really long runs and long workouts. I didn’t really have the problem if I was out for less than 10 miles but a lot of my ultra training sessions required me to be out for hours. I simply stopped wearing the rate monitor and have relied solely on my wrist based monitoring. The wrist based heart rate monitor is less accurate.

The second area of increased chafing has come from my running vest. I wear it because on my really long runs, I have had to have water, fuel, and other supplies ready at hand. My chest and lower back have been brutalized by chafing. I have used athletic tape over problem areas and a lot of anti-chafing lotions and sticks. These things seem to work okay. Yet, I have had the athletic tape and band aids come off during my long runs and then the chafing resumed.

I have had a lot of chafing from my shirts and shorts as well. Running these extremely long distances has caused me to sweat a lot and also lose a lot of salt. The rubbing of my clothes in combination with the salty sweat has equaled a lot of cutting into my skin. About the only way to prevent this from happening is a lot of anti-chafing lotions, sticks, petroleum jelly, athletic tape and anti-blister tape, and washing/sponging off every so many miles. A change of clothes seems to help as well from time to time but how many times am I going to want to change in a race?

I use a product called Nip Ease over my nipples and this has been the one dependable and major victory I have had over chafing. A lot of the other chafing areas is a guessing game as the exact place on your body where the chafing will occur. I have been naïve to think I will sense chafing on the run and stop then to address it but it is super inconvenient to stop in the middle of a run to apply anti-chafing items to my skin. Another issue I have is I don’t really feel a lot of my chafing areas until the run is over. I think this is because I have stronger “pain” coming from other places and areas on my really long runs that the chafing “pain” is not really felt at all. For example, my feet usually starts hurting pretty bad after about 30 miles and my legs start to really throb as well. This type of pain is usually so strong that the chafing I am having isn’t really felt until I am done and off my feet and legs. The worse part is when I step into the shower and start washing off the salt, I can feel it burn in my chafing wounds.

Ultra running brings blisters and chafing. It’s a common part of going really long distances. Again, I didn’t really have this issue even in marathon training but there is a different between running 10 to 25 for workouts and running 25 to 50 miles in a workout. Those added miles and minutes make a big difference in the amount of rubbing that occurs. This is why you have to have quite the supply at hand of chafing solutions. There is no shortage of things you can find on the internet for endurance athletes who need protection from chafing. If I have learned one thing, be generous in your application and have some stuff available during your really long runs or races. Prevention should always be goal number one. Find clothes (shirts, shorts, socks, and shoes) that fit properly and are made with materials that help minimize chafing. The next thing to do is apply anti-chafing lotions or wax. Maintenance while running is second, apply anti-chafing materials to problem areas again. If you can wash off the salt from sweat from time to time that will help as well. The third thing you need to do is treat the really bad spots as soon as possible. If it is possible, it might be worth it to take care of an oncoming blister and problem chafing spot before it becomes something much worse. If it becomes much worse, that can become an issue that hinders your running in a major way or even puts you in a position where you have to stop completely.

If you have interest in extended periods of athletic activity then having a plan to handle chafing and blisters is very helpful. My anti-chafing sticks and waxes, anti-blister socks, nip-ease, and band-aids are part of my gym bag and race kits. While I still do get chafing issues from time to time, I have been able to make it tolerable to run really long distances. It does mean I need more time to prep my body for certain runs and workouts but a little extra prep on the front end can save you a lot of pain and discomfort during and at the end of your workout.

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