Avoiding sun damage when training outdoors

Couldn’t find a thread about minimising UV damage, but it’s on my mind a little at the moment. What steps are people taking?

I have freckly pale skin that burns easily, so obviously it was a great move to emigrate to the Middle East :roll_eyes:

On the plus side this is really focussing the mind - sunscreen, hat, sleeves, glasses etc. Back in the UK I was more sloppy and wouldn’t normally think so much about it, beyond always running in a cap.

But this got me thinking. Quick look at the forecast for London this week shows UV index of 3-4 between about 11am and 2pm on Thursday, for example. Clear sky, 14C. Would you cream up going for a run in that? I probably wouldn’t have until recently.

But until recently I did not realise that the UV index is a linear scale. It is based on the number of photons hitting the skin in a certain time. So, 15 minutes outside when the UV index is 12 causes the same amount of skin and eye damage as 30 minutes when the index is 6, or 60 minutes when the index is 3.

And I definitely would use sun protection if stepping outside for 15 minutes at midday here (UV 12) - so I guess logically ought to be using the same protection if going out for 60 minutes in UV3??

Interested to know what folk do.


I used to terrible for not putting any one. My skin is darker and doesnt burn easily. As I have got older I am much better. If I am going to be out in strong mid day-afternoon sun for more than 30 mins I will put some on.

Also worth looking at clothes as many have UV protection built it, but a lot dont.

Sunnies need to be CE marked as a minimum, otherwise they are doing nothing

Of course the other problem is if you constantly go out slathered up in Factor 50 thats going to block Vit D production as well. So some unprotected exposure is good.


I’ve said this until I’m blue (red!) in the face! People simply don’t understand how hard it is to live in an extreme heat environment. they think that a few days at 35C on holiday is ‘hot but lovely’ :roll_eyes: Then comes the ’ it must be lovely with all that sun’ :man_facepalming:

Slip, slop, slap, as we say in Oz. Sunscreen, shirt and a hat.

By far the best way is to avoid it for training if you can. That sounds trite but as I’ve said before, I’ve bailed countless sessions at home due to heat but only a relative handful here due to cold/wet.

Even 10mins in the wrong UV index can do damage. The other thing to consider is mental safety, especially on the bike or driving back from a session. Getting very hot, even if hydrated can really fuck with your ability to make smart decisions and you don’t really know you’re in the hole until you’re in it!
Make friends with early morning if you can. Train indoors at a gym with good a/c. Swimming is tempting but you can get burnt very easily.

Bucket hats are a good shout and don’t forget to cover your cranium on the bike, as the sun will burn you through the holes in your helmet.

also, if it’s a no wind day, try and train early AM when the air is fresher as by the evening it’s decidedly second hand.


Thanks FP, I recognise all that you say now :+1:

Sounds kind of extreme but I’m thinking of restricting outdoor exercise times to before 8am, and after 4pm. Ie. green and yellow on the chart below.

This is the forecast for today, and it’s only getting stronger for the next few months

PS… the burning through the holes on the bike helmet thing - I get you - what do you use to cover the head below the helmet?


you could combine with the aero discussion and go for a swim cap


Don 't get me started on seeing men run with no top on - do they realise how much damage they are doing …factor 50 always, and I am mixed race - but still burn …


I’m thinking boil-in-the-bag?


I’m quite lax so not gonna pretend I’m not. But my daily morning routine includes applying face moisturiser which has SPF in it.


I use a UV rated bandana, I’ve had a few different makes but try and get one that states it is UV rated. I’ve had Assos, Gore UV skull caps and evenI think even DHB do them as well. I personally prefer a bandana as they usually come with a little bit of a neck protector at the back.
I’ve seen some people a traditional cycling cap and then helmet over the top but that would be too hot for me.


I can’t even have my shoulders exposed. When it comes to the upper body, I feel hotter if I have nothing on. Women rubbing in just a sports bra are also doing as much damage. Cover those shoulders!


as someone who has had 3 basal cell carcinomas removed as a result of sun damage, I can honestly say look after your skin. Mrs FB has also had a malignant melanoma removed (about 20 years ago).

we are of the generation where the purpose of going into the sun was to get a tan - we’d spit roast ourselves on Greek holidays using minimal SPF factor (coconut oil anyone??).

we live in a more enlightened age now but still too many people don’t look after their skin in the sun


agreed :slight_smile:


Always wondered how some runners run all day with no top a la Anton below



Took me a while, but I’ve started leaving multiple bottles of F50 - one with my run shoes, another where I keep HRM to prompt me to put it on before going out for exercise.
The better step would be putting it on >15 minutes before going outside.

You’re right that we should be better about putting it on for long exposures in ok weather (UV 3-6), rather than just obviously sunny days. Trying to get there with cycling long rides.

I use a normal cycling cap under my helmet as I got it free, but will look at a skull cap/bandana :+1:



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I burn easily and put on suncream when heading outside from now until September. Maybe less so if early morning and 30 mins.


I was very poor with sunscreen back in my climbing days - the back of my neck is where you’re most exposed and would regularly get burned. I have improved a lot and always wear a buff when cycling which I pull up over my ears when cold but not for heat.

I tend to use suncream on hotter days if out in the morning … and always on bigger summer rides. The top of my head always gets a dollop.
One of the good things about being a parent is there’s always multiple bottles of factor50 around :slight_smile:

I remember how hideous it was just walking around in Singapore, couldn’t live anywhere too hot.


I don’t mind being hot, it’s purely being irradiated that worries me!

Was wondering if you can get bracelets that monitor your cumulative exposure or warn you , but quick Google doesn’t really show much


I’m very weary of this now. Ginger and I did enjoy running a lot with top off on my long summer runs over the years ( although I did use suncream ). GF always on my case now whenever I go out for run/ cycle to cream up. Generally keep myself fairly well covered on the bike. I’m actually being booked into see a dermatologist later in the summer for a check up


I’m terrible with sun screen but am getting better. I know that I should apply it but I tan easily, rarely burn, and especially in the mountains it’s generally cooler so you don’t feel the sun’s strength as you do at sea level. None of which are any reason to avoid protection but somehow always makes its way into my decision making. To add to my stupidity I also carry a small tube of sun cream in the hills in case clients get caught out :see_no_evil:

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