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Blood, sweat & tears.

Endurance runners endure more than just mileage. There is a long list of physical hardships that come with the territory, and if you're male, and new to distances over ten miles, here's one your may need a head's up on. Chafing is a long-distance plague for any runner virtually anywhere on the body where two surfaces repeatedly rub together--skin on skin or clothing on skin. But 'bleeding nipples' is the nearly exclusive domain of men. Anyone who has watched or participated in a marathon has seen a pitiful soul or two with two big, bloody splotches streaming down the front of his shirt.

It is more often a problem in chilly temperatures. As sweat accumulates, the rapid evaporation in the cool air causes "goose bumps" or piloerection. This is a primitive throwback to our furrier days when feeling a chill caused the hairs on the body to stand upright in order to trap air for warmth. It causes the nipples to become stiffer and more prominent along with all the little hair follicles. As the miles accumulate, each step shifts the wet fabric of your shirt back and forth, up and down. The nipples can get very chafed. Add to the problem that as you-fatigue your mechanics may get distorted. Maybe your shoulders start creeping up to your ears, or you carry your arms more rigidly. These distortions can increase the amount of shifting of your shirt across or up and down your chest. What is invariable is that it hurts like the devil (although ironically, you may not notice it right away) and it's a bit embarrassing.

Here's what you can do to avoid the problem, and you can discreetly pass along this wisdom the next time you see a fellow runner suffering. Wear clothing designed to move sweat away from your body. Beware of mesh singlets: they are more irritating than smoother fabrics. This will give you extra miles but won't necessarily prevent the problem by itself. Petroleum jelly or newer, non-greasy lubricants can be used anywhere on your body to prevent chafing (as your mileage increases, you may become familiar with a few new spots that might benefit from a little protection). Adding an adhesive bandage on top of a good layer of lubricant on the nipples is good insurance but only as long as you don't sweat the bandages off. Be sure to apply them to dry, clean skin. Experiment with different brands during your long runs to see which ones stick best.

There are actually products called nipple guards available at running stores, which provide a protective barrier. For more information (and the option of purchasing them without blushing) visit www.nipguards.com. (CS)
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Publication:Running & FitNews
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Words:449
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