Things runners don’t talk about #4: Chafing

Ultra-runners! Hands up who’s ever felt the burn of some serious chafing? I have a good friend and fellow ultra-runner who once had to put a sock in-between his butt cheeks to relieve the pain of a friction sore so he could finish an event, which I’m glad to say he did! Whatever gets you across that finish…

We might not talk about it very often – like a lot of the ‘grimmer’ aspects of pushing your body over long distances – but chafing can be the difference between crossing a finish, or not. It can happen anywhere on the body where skin meets skin. Without some precautions, it can derail even the fittest ultra-runners.

Learning from (painful) experience

Some years ago, I was training for my first marathon and was doing the return leg along a canal path outside Rennes. I’d covered 15 miles or so, when a runner coming the other way looked concerned and stopped me to ask if I was alright. I hadn’t realised that the inside of my thighs, where the skin had been rubbing, was red raw with blood running down my legs.

The other runner told me to invest in some NOK anti-friction cream – which is something I’ve used in every race since. It’s terrific stuff: very, very sticky and stays in place no matter how sweaty or how long I run.

An anti-chafing solution

I use NOK cream everywhere you can imagine, including the nether regions. I’ve not had a problem since. I’d highly recommend it to anyone heading for their first ultra – you can’t underestimate what an effect chafing can have over distance. I buy it on Amazon.

To finish the canal story, I didn’t take the chafing seriously. When I got home, my wife told me to sit down and rest as I was probably in shock from the bleeding and pain. As usual, I thought I knew best and jumped straight in the shower where I promptly fainted. Second lesson learnt that morning, and we’re still together 20 years later!

Happy summer running everyone! Let me know if you have any other creams or methods of your own – leave me a comment below.

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