Introducing Fairy Friday | A pale girl’s guide to running outside

Can we get a round of applause for the arrival of Friday?

With the work week behind us it is time for some fun. I am not sure what all of you like to do for fun, but I enjoy the occasional run. I told you before that I am a half marathon runner and as you can imagine, that takes some training if you take it seriously. Well, to say that I take it seriously would be the overstatement of the century, but I do try to work in more or less regular training sessions.

If you happen to run as well and are a fair skinned runner like me (throw in allergies for bonus points), you’ll most likely relate to the fact that running outside is tricky for us year round. January to around March tends to be really cold and dark so running outside requires a certain amount of gear – basically everything from triple layering to building your running route around the scarce sources of light at night. March to April is when my allergies usually start to kick in so the fun continues until summer comes and that’s when sunscreen becomes the most vital part of my running outfit. Once the sun (and allergies) subsides it’s usually back to darkness and cold pretty quickly and so the circle begins anew.

An alternative to exposing yourself to such ruthless central European climatic and botanical conditions would be to run on a treadmill, but since this is sinfully boring in my opinion, it is simply not an option, at least not for long runs. Instead, as I am incorrigibly stubborn, I continue to run outside.

If you want to follow my example – and I strongly encourage you to do so in this particular case – then here are some points to consider before you start Forrest Gumping around in direct sunlight:

  • Time your run: Be smart about when you head out the door. Specifically, I suggest going for a run either in the morning so you’re back no later than 10:30am or to go late afternoon to evening starting from around 4pm. This will help you avoid the time when the sun is at its highest and most aggressive point in the sky.
  • Lotion up: As annoying as it is to put sunscreen on your body that will start to melt the second you hit 140bpm, it is absolutely vital to do so. Put the sunscreen on well ahead of your run so that your skin has some time to absorb it before you start running. Remember to include your ears and lips.
  • Protect your head: Wear a hat. I say this loud and clear and make a mental note to follow my own advice. A simple baseball hat or something similar will keep your head a little more protected from sun and heat while also shielding your face a little bit. Preferably go for a lighter color as black tends to soak up heat like nobody’s business.
  • Choose the right shirt: As long as I wear sunscreen, my legs tend to be fine in the sun and I can wear shorts when I run, no problem. However, my shoulders are very sensitive and I feel more comfortable running with short sleeves than with a strappy top. The same goes for fancy cut outs on the back of my running shirts: great for indoors, but not worth the hassle out in the sun – that makes for one awkward mess of a sun burn, take my word for it.
  • Run in the shade: If you can, pick a running route that allows you to avoid the glaring sun. Parks or tree-lined tracks are a perfect choice if you have any nearby. This is especially vital if you run for very long stretches at a time because not only will this help keep your skin safe, but it’ll also help keep you from overheating.

Keep running and let me know if you have any advice I forgot to include.

Love – The Fairy Pales

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