Endurance sports are a grueling challenge. If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know what miles of pavement pounding can do to your innocent little toes. It’s not pretty — and neither is chafing, blistering or bleeding. Unfortunately, these not-so-glamorous side effects are the reality of the sport. Think of them as battle wounds. And like any good athlete, you have to learn to lick your wounds and carry on.
Chafing: This occurs where skin rubs against skin. As you can imagine, this is not a pleasant feeling (particularly when you’re taking a shower). The most chafe-prone parts are underarms, nipples and in the groin area. To help prevent chafing, apply a non-petroleum jelly to those affected areas before training or racing. If it’s too little too late, use a pain-relieving topical cream to help ease the redness and irritation.
Blisters: There are two types of athletes: ones who have had a blister and ones who will. Unfortunately, even the smallest of blisters can ruin your race. At the first signs of a blister, cover it in non-petroleum jelly and wrap a gauze over top for extra protection. If it’s a full-blown blister, drain it and cover with an Advanced Healing Blister Cushions Band-Aid for quicker healing. Also, avoid wearing cotton socks that hold the sweat and create friction in your shoes. Wearing moisture-wicking socks is the best way to beat blisters from the get-go.
Sunburn: Triathletes can spend anywhere from an hour (sprint distance) to 15+ hours (iron distance) racing in the sun. Wearing a hat can help protect your face and the top of your head from getting burned. But be sure to also apply sunscreen to all exposed areas, including your delicate lips. Use a long-lasting lip balm with SPF to keep your smackers soft and smooth.
Black toe nails: The dreaded black nails are caused by blistering or bruising underneath the toe nail. Most often, it’s the result of your foot sliding forward in your shoe as you run. The first step is to wear shoes that fit properly. Go up a size if you think you need more wiggle room. Otherwise, black nails have to clear up on their own. Be patient and wrap your toe with an Active-Flex Band-Aid to keep it clean. The bright side is that black nails are typically more ugly than they are painful.
Road rash: Hopefully, you never experience road rash, since that would mean you have fallen off your bike and ended up with some gnarly scrapes and bruises. These wounds need to be cleaned often and kept covered for at least the first few days to help with healing. Using New Skin for large wounds is like getting a two-for-one, because it acts as an antiseptic and bandage. The best part is it’s an invisible, waterproof liquid! And try to wear long sleeves while cycling outdoors (and take all precautions to ride safely). The extra layer of clothing will offer some protection in case you do take a spill.
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time Iron distance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, follow Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and follow Amy @AmyCMarsh.