Science always fascinates me, during college, I took several biology classes as electives (for the fun of it), as an athlete, I wanted to understand how our bodies worked and functioned. What amazed me is that our large intestine is about 5 feet long, roughly weighing 4 pounds (add another 3.5 pounds for the small intestine), giving you a total of 7.5 pounds – hopefully they were empty when weighed.
Did you know that your skin is actually the largest organ? Most of us think internal when we hear “organs”, but the skin (in average adults) is about 8 pounds (around 16% of our body weight) give or take 22 square feet. Take a ruler, measure out 22 square feet to give you an idea the cutis length. There are also variations of skin thickness throughout your body. For example, the eye/eyelid area is paper-thin, while the bottom of your food is covered by a layer of subcutaneous connective tissue up to 2 cm thick.
I’m a firm believer of protecting our skin, especially now that Summer Solstice has kicked off. We’re still abiding by social distancing while training outdoors, and we need to limit our sun exposure to protect our skin.
Some Helpful hints from Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Use a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30. Broad spectrum sunscreen protects you from both UVA & UVB rays. Re-apply every 2 hours, especially sweating after your running workouts or swimming. Apply sunscreen over your top lip as well as lips.
- If you’re follicy-challenged, apply sunscreen on your head, unless you’re wearing a running cap made of technical materials. (don’t use baseball caps, they are too thick and retain heat, use them for the ballgames or just for fun, use running caps that are designed for running or sports-if you’re a balanced running athlete, you’re in for a treat)
- Try to run and/or train in areas that are shaded, i.e. trails.
- Find clothing items that are made of technical materials that are tightly woven breathable fabric with built in sun protection. Many companies are now making athletic products with UV protection factor (UPF)
- Wear sunglasses (with UVA / UVB protection)
- Wear running caps or if you’re out and about, look for wide-brimmed hats to protect your face and neck (avoid that leather neck look)
- Avoid running between 10:00 am through 4:00 pm because this is the time when the sun’s rays are the strongest, a good rule of them, if you can see your shadow, then find a shady area to run.
- When you’re near water, sand or even snow, the damaging rays of the sun are reflected, as well as increasing your chances of sun damage. Use caution and sunblock to protect your 22 square feet of skin.
- I’ve never been a fan of sun tanning beds (plus as runners, we don’t need them since we’re training outdoors) keep in mind, Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkles. There are products that you can use that are self-tanning, but again, check to ensure they have the SPF you need to protect your epidermis.
There’s also skin coolers, if you’re like me and lather up in sunscreen, I’ve often had oils & residue from my sunblock, so in order to avoid my arms getting the stuff over my vehicle, I use skin coolers, if you’re ordering a pair, ensure you order the right size. I specifically like these because they are versatile, winter or summer use. If you find something similar let us know how they work for you. Enjoy the solstice while training outdoors.