Running obviously has several health benefits. But like any sport, it can be hard on your body if you don’t put as much effort into recovery and self-care as you do into training. This is a big topic, but I’m going to stick specifically with how running can affect your skin (both positively and negatively) and what to do about it while still meeting your training goals.
First off, let’s look at the potential benefits of running as far as your skin is concerned. We all know the running is great cardio, ie it strengthens your cardiovascular system, improving breathing and circulation. Better circulation promotes healthy, glowing skin, in addition to generally improved well-being, as oxygen and nutrients are more efficiently delivered to all cells. Exercise in general is also strongly linked to reduced stress, and stress is linked to flare-ups of conditions such as acne and eczema.
Although a healthy, active lifestyle is a great way to keep your skin (along with the rest of your body) looking great, more is not necessarily better. When training for a marathon or ultra that will take hours to run, there is substantial stress placed on your body. That physical stress is unavoidable; it’s the constant stress of training that forces your body to adapt and be able to perform incredible feats of endurance. If you are regularly running for 90 minutes or more, the oxidative stress will likely start to cause some breakdown of the collagen in your skin, which can decrease elasticity and result in sagging (the sagging is not caused, as it is sometimes said, simply by the “bouncy” motion inherent in running…but that probably doesn’t help any, either).
The other major cause of oxidative damage and premature aging in runners is the exposure to the elements. Sun damage can be difficult to avoid, and sweating can exacerbate it. Intense cold (of the likes we see up here in Edmonton) is also particularly unfriendly to any exposed skin.
So how can you run marathons without prematurely aging yourself?
Obviously, sunscreen is necessary. An oil-free, high-SPF, broad spectrum sunscreen specifically designed for your face, such as our Runner Rx Daily SPF55 Moisturizer, is essential. If you’re running an ultra, I’d recommend putting this in your pack so that you can reapply at least once over the course of the race to ensure that you don’t sweat away all your protection. A hat to shade your face will help as well.
Care should also be taken to avoid dehydration, as dehydrated skin is not happy skin. Always carry adequate water with you on long runs, and use a moisturizer more often when in the midst of intense training.
The perfect product for daily use to prevent and correct any damage to your face done by running is our Marathoner’s Miracle Rejuvenating Serum. This lightweight, silky-textured serum is rich in astaxanthin (a red algae extract) which is a very powerful antioxidant. This serum also moisturizes and helps to increase skin’s moisture retention, reduces redness (including rosacea flare-ups, which can be exacerbated by sun exposure and exercise), and increases collagen synthesis to keep your skin firm and elastic. A little goes a long way; expect the 1 oz container to last you about 2 months of daily use.
Got any questions about skincare for runners, or particular issues you’ve had that you need advice for? Go ahead and ask in the comments below!