Guest Post: Sun Safety for Summer Running

This post was written by Natalie Smith. Feel free to Submit a Guest Post in the “Contact Us” tab if you are wanting to write a preview or recap your running experiences as well! The views in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Run Oregon. It's no secret runners love the sun. Few things compete with a nice long run on a Sunday morning with the sun beaming down on your face. It feels simply glorious! And, few things are as risky either... ...According to, one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetimes. That's 20%!! Here is another statistic for you: each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon. ( The solution? Running in the dark during the wee hours of the morning? Or, trapped on  a treadmill in a sweaty, overcrowded gym?! No way! You can still enjoy your long, sunny runs, but just be sure take some precautions first. Wear your sunscreen- SPF 30 or higher, and reapply every 1-2 hours. Wear a hat and clothing with SPF while you're at it! Okay and (somewhat) unrelated to running, skip the tanning beds too! No one cares if you finish your relay or marathon bronze or pale!! I spent many of my college years catching rays in a tanning bed, visiting the local tanning salons almost daily.


Abby and I at the AIM for the Cure Melanoma Fun Run and Walk 2016.

Why listen to me? Unfortunately, I've experienced skin cancer myself; I've had 6 cancerous lesions removed in the past year alone. I have also spent many many hours running outside over the past 15+ years WITHOUT sunscreen! Never again, I can tell you that. So, in an effort to spread the word about the dangers of UV rays and to combine my passion for running while raising money for the Melanoma Tissue Bank, I teamed up with one of my very best-friends, Run Oregon blogger, Abby Meek and spent the morning of May 21st marking the course for the AIM for the Cure Melanoma Walk and Fun Run 5K in down-town Portland.

It was truly inspirational meeting so many survivors and hearing their stories. Not to mention we got to spend the day with so many others who love running too! It’s too late to run it this year, but please consider running or walking next year. The atmosphere is uplifting and you get the opportunity to raise money for a truly amazing cause. Melanoma and other forms of skin cancer are real and the word needs to continue to get out. And again! Don’t forget to slather on your sunscreen before your next run!

Skin Cancer Fast-Facts

  • Each year in the U.S. over 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people.
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
  • Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once.

All statistics are from the website FAQ page. 

How to Choose Sunscreen

Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen.

    • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
    • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

The site of my latest skin cancer is on my neck. No tan is worth the long-term damage it can cause your body.

  • Whether or not you choose organic or non-organic sunscreen, make sure that the one you choose has zinc oxide. Many dermatologists I’ve seen over the years say that a sunscreen is worthless without zinc oxide. Why?  sit on top of the skin, forming a barrier against the sun’s rays. Click here for a  list of sunscreens that contain both organic and non-organic choices that contain zinc.
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