May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month – Run Safe from the Sun

I’m here to tell you to wear sunscreen when you’re out running during the day, especially between 10a and 4p. I don’t care if you “tan easily” or have never had a bad burn … it’s those little micro-doses of sun exposure that add up and can lead to skin damage or even cancer. But since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and we’ve got a long summer ahead of us, now’s a good time for my sun protection reminder! has great tips for prevention, self-checks, and facts about skin cancer that you should take a minute to look over. It has simple suggestions to keep yourself and your family protected, and because even pets can get skin cancer, information to keep your furbabies safe.

Here are my suggestions to keep yourself protected:

  1. Choose your run wisely. Can you run outside of the 10a-4p window? Can you run on a shaded trail or at the very least, the shaded side of the street? Try to plan a route that gives you the most protection, if possible. You’ll stay cooler and protect yourself, and not feel as drained after your run.
  2. Dress to protect. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and if it’s not too hot, a lightweight long-sleeve shirt. If you are okay running in capris instead of shorts, go that route when possible. You may not realize it, but as your legs are working, you’re exposing the top of your quads and the calf muscle to the sun with every step.
  3. Apply sunscreen effectively. I use two different sunscreens most of the time: one lightweight sunscreen for my face and one thicker suncreen for my neck, shoulders, chest, back, arms, and legs. I start out with my body, then wash my hands and apply to my face. If you are out there for more than an hour (of sweating) you should reapply. (The 2-hour guideline if if you’re not sweating much.) Don’t forget the tops of your ears! Check out these reviews by Runner’s World on runner sunscreen brands.

Here are a few brands and ideas to stay covered up even in the warm weather. Remember, heat stroke can be as much of a threat as sunburn, so if it’s really steamy out, try wetting down a buff to wear around your neck to stay cool. I really like this one from Mission – you get it wet and it will keep you cooler. For me, it feels like the difference between running in the direct sun versus running on a trail in deep shade.


Kea Peak visors are great for you if you’ve got a lot of hair or your head gets hot in a traditional hat.

Check out the hat selections from local running stores – usually, the hats they buy to put their logo on are lightweight, durable running hats that you can wash regularly. For example, PRC has hats from Brooks and Sporthill that are specifically made for running and show your support of local running stores.

Sun running hats provide even more protection, as they cover your ears and neck. Outdoor Research is a company that I have had good luck with, their Sun Runner Cap has a removeable neck cover that’s lightweight and allows for good air flow. As a bonus, if you live where there are mosquitoes, you’ll get protection from those little stinkers too.


This muscle tank from Bakline is $35 and completely BA.

Ladies, I love a good racerbank tank as much as the next gal, but it’s really hard to get sunscreen on your own shoulderblades. Instead, look for muscle-shirt style tanks and shirts with higher necklines. Not only will they protect your skin, you’ll look super BA. Most brands have something that offer a little more coverage without sacrificing fit. Check out these from Oiselle, Bakline, and Athleta.

Another style to look for is the somewhat sheer material in a regular t-shirt or cap-sleeve look. I have actually found some good shirts at Target for less than $20.

About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.

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