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Running Tips

Running in the sun: 6 skin protection tips for outdoor runners

A smiling runner wears a hat for skin protection before a run.
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What's better than getting outdoors for a run in the warm sunshine? Not much, but if you're going to be running in the sun, be sure to keep in mind these six skin protection tips for runners.

As the weather warms up and the summer months roll around, you're probably anxious to pull on shorts and a tank and go running in the sun. Before you do, however, it's important to follow some skin protection tips for runners to avoid skin issues down the road. Plus, once you check off these tips, you'll be able to enjoy happier, stress-free runs!

1. Run early, or run late

Dermatologists will tell you the worst time of day to be out in the sun is midday, from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when the sun is high. Aim for early morning or late afternoon into evening to beat the strongest rays.

2. Slather on the sunscreen

This is a must before heading outdoors. With running, look for a sweat-proof formula that won't run. Ideally, you'll be using an SPF of at least 15, and reapply if you're going to be out there for longer than two hours. It's important to apply your sunscreen before you've put on your clothes, too, so you're covering areas that might get exposed as your clothing shifts with your movement.

3. Seek the shady side of the street

If at all possible, choose routes that provide plenty of shade from trees or buildings. Better yet, summer is an ideal time to get out on the trails and under the tree canopy.

Two female runners wearing Brooks Run Bras

4. Wear a hat and sunglasses

The combination of these accessories can serve as powerful sun protection. A hat with a brim will keep the top of your head, ears, and face shielded. Sunglasses now often come with ultraviolet-ray-blocking properties, so grab a pair of those and keep your eyes protected, too.

5. Don't skip out on protection if you're going short

You might think your skin is safe from the sun's harm on a quick 5k, but that's not the case. In just 15 minutes, the sun can cause damage, even if it doesn't show up as a tan or burn.

6. See your dermatologist regularly

No matter how good you are about sun protection, if you're outdoors on the regular, you're probably sustaining some damage to your skin. Annual visits to the dermatologist are a good way to measure any damage and get out ahead of it before it becomes an issue.

There are many benefits to running in the sun, from a daily dose of vitamin D to mood-boosting effects and the simple chance to "play" in nature. By all means, get out there and run — but don't forget to stay sun safe!

Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.

Written By
Amanda Loudin

Health and science writer

Amanda Loudin running in a forest

I've been a runner for more than two decades and a journalist for just as long. I'm also a certified running coach and nothing makes me happier than marrying up writing and running. Find me on the trails with two- and four-legged friends.