Summer is the perfect time to lace-up your running shoes, start your Garmin and hit the pavement. To stay cool and protected from the damaging UV rays, you’ll need a few other items to have on hand whenever you want to rack up some outdoor miles.

  • Sunscreen: Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, you should always apply an SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin. Remember to reapply every hour, especially if you are sweaty. TIP: Keep a small tube or stick in your running belt for easy access!
  • Hat or visor: Headwear can keep the sun off your face, neck and ears. Look for one that is lightweight and light colored. A hat can also keep your eyes shaded if you don’t have your sunglasses with you, or prefer not to run with eyewear. TIP: Sparkle Athletic’s Headsweats Visor will wick away sweat and shield your face from the sun.
  • Long sleeves: A lightweight long sleeve shirt can protect your arms and neck from harmful rays. Keep an extra in your gym bag or car and throw it on during especially sunny days. TIP: When temperatures are on the rise, look for a new route that is mostly in the shade or decide to go for your run later at night after the sun has set.

Protecting your skin on a run is very important as daily sun exposure can increase your risk for skin cancer. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer that’s often caused by UV radiation and develops in areas that have had exposure to the sun. We spoke with Caitlin Zbikowski, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Blackout Melanoma, an organization providing educational resources and fundraising events bringing awareness of prevention and detection of melanoma. Here’s what she had to say:

“Regardless of what time of year it is or your location, we have to be mindful of the sun at all times.  Sounds extreme, but it’s a reality these days.  Melanoma is no joke.  Sometimes looking up at the sun means looking within as well.  The dangers of skin cancer are constantly being promoted, but do we take them seriously on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis?  In order to protect all members of our community from the dangers of melanoma, we also need to become allies and knowledgeable about the skin care products and active gear that’s currently available & really working.  Knowledge is power and knowledge can save lives.”

 “Aside from wearing and reapplying sunscreen, ensure that you wherever you go, you are always in a place that can provide a great deal of shade for you and your loved ones.  Cutting down your exposure in the sun is vital.  Please do not find comfort in sunburns and the feeling of being “tan” – you’re putting yourself at risk.  It’s not hot to be tan.  If you become mindful of these things, you will influence others just the same.  And of course, there is nothing more life changing than scheduling 6 month or yearly appointments with a credible dermatologist in your community.”

Exposure to UV radiation, natural or artificial, increases the risk of getting melanoma.  That’s the honest truth.  That’s life.  No one is safe and invincible from the sun.  Please pay attention to the research that’s out there and the stories of diagnosed patients.  They’re steps to prevent melanoma invading your skin and your family, but you have to take your skin seriously.  Always make sure you’re looking out for moles and make sure someone is looking out for yours, as well. Protect yourself by covering your body, wearing sunscreen and running in the shade this summe