One of the things I used to hear all the time while training for Ironman was, “You train in long sleeves…in FLORIDA?! Aren’t you hot?”
The simple answer is…yes, Florida is hot. Yes I am hot. I just rode my bike for seven hours in the middle of summer so once again, yes I am very hot. But wearing sleeves is the least of your problems while training in the sun. Not only are long sleeves proven to not raise core temperature, but when made with the correct fabric they are also proven to cool you down up to six degrees! That’s right…six degrees! As athletes this is HUGE!
When I was 25 years old I was diagnosed with the deadliest type of skin cancer, Melanoma. I had not yet fulfilled my dream of training for an Ironman and I wasn’t going to let this get in my way. But I did have to change everything about the way I was going to train. I was amazed to find out with my outdoor sessions how quickly I got used to being covered from head to toe. Yes, the first time felt a little funny but so does everything else when you try it for the first time, right? Just like the first time you built up the courage to take off your shirt and run in only a sports bra, or the first time you put on cycle shorts and tried to get past the fact that it kind of feels like you had a bathroom accident in your pants. Sleeves are a super simple way to add an enormous amount of sun safety to your training schedule. Besides, who likes slopping on the sunscreen every two hours? Not to mention, has anyone seen the bucket of universal sunscreen they use at big races? As much as I appreciate races providing sunscreen I cannot bring myself to scoop some out after Sweaty McGee dug his hands in there right after his port-a-potty break.
According to Austrian and German studies, outdoor athletes have an increased risk for malignant melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. You know what a higher percentage of skin cancer development means? A higher development of sun damage like sun spots, wrinkles, etc. If cancer doesn’t motivate you to become sun smart hopefully accelerated aging does.
So do yourself a favor and add a sleeved tri kit or cooling sleeves to your long list of training gear. Just like you always wear your helmet, make sure your beautiful skin is protected, too.
Written by Stefani Schuetz
Follow Stefani on Instagram! @stefani.trisirena
The following sources were utilized in this article.
*Ambros-Rudolph CM, Hofmann-Wellenhof R, Richtig E, Müller-Fürstner M, Soyer HP, Kerl H. Arch Dermatol. "Malignant melanoma in marathon runners". https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17116838. 2006 Nov
* Moehrle, M. "Outdoor sports and skin cancer". https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18280899. 2008 Jan-Feb.