New training plan & the dreaded C word

Garmin HR strap with bandaid

Instrument of evil.

With Augusta off the books, I’m starting to focus on my November race, the Richmond Half. Monosporting after a season of triathlon is always a bit exciting to me because it all feels so easy. One workout a day! One set of equipment! One nutrition plan! God, you single sport people have it good. Of course, I’m still occasionally swimming and biking because if half marathon training attempt #1 taught me anything it’s that cross training is a beautiful, body saving thing.

I’ve decided to follow Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Half Marathon plan, which, truth be told, is probably a touch advanced for me. I am definitely unused to 5 days of running a week and I can’t just jump there in week one no matter how easy and low the mileage. But I was really attracted to the tempo runs and speed work. I like those sorts of workouts because they’re usually more interesting than just running straight for a few miles. Also, it’s not like I can’t stand to get a bit (lot) speedier.

I’ve decided to replace one of the running days with a biking or rest day to start with until I think I can handle 5 days of running, but this first week was pretty trying already. I ran Sunday, and Tues-Thursday with speedwork on Wednesday outside during the height of Swampaggedon. I held up well on Tuesday, suffered diligently on Wednesday, but Thursday, I won’t lie, sucked ass and I had to stop a mile into my three mile easy run.

But the trouble wasn’t my legs (though, if I’m honest, they were pretty sluggish). No, the trouble was my skin and my arch-nemesis: Chafing.

Triathletes like to talk vaguely about the slings and arrows of chafing and how they all own stock in Bodyglide, but I’ve never been entirely clear on how big a problem it is for other people on a day to day basis. Because for me it’s pretty much a war on open sored terror. The question is not whether or not I will chafe in any given workout, it’s where, how much, and how easily can I ignore it for the duration of the event.

I regularly chafe on my stomach, my breasts, my chest below my breasts, and my undercarriage. I occasionally chafe on my inner arms, feet, and back. For the regular stuff, Bodyglide helps but doesn’t prevent. My bra rips up my boobs and my HRM rips up my chest on every run I do, but with Bodyglide the damage is a stingy red mark rather than an open sore.

The extent of the chafing varies seasonally and with my clothes. Some clothes, while very nice otherwise, I end up avoid all together because I can’t figure out how to manage the friction. My bra, unfortunately, is a non-negotiable item. I’m well endowed and there are very, very few sports bras made for women of my size that actually stand up to endurance sports. Enell is the best one I’ve found. I just wish I understood why it was causing so much friction. The bra fits and is new and this hasn’t always been an issue. It started maybe a year or so ago.

The heart rate monitor, I admit, is me being stubborn and wanting data.

Anyway, sometimes I get into a good chafe-free lull and think I can do without slathering myself with Bodyglide; sometimes I forget my stick & just have to manage without. This is what happened to me Tuesday. I left my big stick at home and had run out of the mini back up one I keep permanently in my bag, so I ran Glide free.

I have open sores on 3 different parts of my body and red lines across another 3. Only my very tenuous grasp on common decency is preventing me from posting pictures. You can say thank you in the comments.

With triathlon, you can switch sports & give your skin a chance to heal, but three days in a row of running meant I got to Thursday and just couldn’t take it for another minute. So I huffed and hopped off the treadmill, and went to the farmers market to angrily buy vegetables.

I’ve got a rest day today and I hoping to heal up before my long run this weekend, but I will remain on the lookout for new friction free strategies. Is this a problem anyone else has? Or am I alone in chafing hell? What are your strategies for dealing with the rub?

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2 responses to “New training plan & the dreaded C word

  1. For me the worst is intermittent and unpredictable: I’ll get awful chaffing and pinching along my groin right where the seam around my panty leg hole touches. But it’s not caused by the underwear, it’s a pants problem. And once that sore is there, nothing helps except a large bandaid and going commando. I just bought myself a pair of these shorts for our hiking trip this last weekend and they were amazing. No problems at all, even while wearing a pair of problem causing shorts over top.

    When I was doing serious distances, I used to get the worst hot spots that never blistered, just burned, on the balls of my feet. Never did figure out how to stop it. Now I get blisters and just end up covering everything with a bandage and then a layer of cloth tape to keep it from sweating off.

    • Ah, yes, the dreaded crotch spots. Biking seems to do me in there more than running. I’m prone to getting terrible boils at the juncture of my thigh and groin from a shorts, saddle, long ride combination. Any running chafing in that area seems to be more of a friction issue if the shorts are too loose & are rubbing back and forth or if someone’s “flat seams” aren’t as flat as they think they are (I’m looking at you, Danskin). I refuse to exercise in underwear, which I do think helps.

      I am intrigued by these bermuda shorts! I’ve got a pair from athleta that look similar that I like pretty well. I’m resigned to everything chafing at the waist but not chafing at the crotch is a make or break deal with shorts for me.

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