How to Endurance Train Your Skin to Keep it Healthy
We’re all subject to free radicals, the culprits behind inflammation and cell damage, on a daily basis. Stress, pollution, excessive sun, and the foods we eat all contribute. And athletes who train intensively often release even more free radicals internally as a byproduct of their demanding workouts. The endurance of tri-athletes is necessary to stay in the race, but along with that, free radicals show up. This combined with the hours spent outdoors in the sun and wind, increases the potential for damage.
What are the implications? Well the theory is, and studies have shown, free radicals cause oxidative stress, and during strenuous workouts the body produces significantly higher levels, exceeding the body’s natural antioxidant defenses. This causes our cells to age or degrade. We all know what aging does to the body and skin. To offset this process, whether training for the Ironman or not, we have to make friends with antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids.
TRAIN YOUR SKIN LIKE AN IRONMAN
Ironman competitors will typically dedicate nearly 20 hours per week to training leading up to the big race. They’re up at 4 a.m., spend two hours on the bike, eat, go to work for 10 hours, hit the gym right after for several hours, then it’s home to bed. They wake up and do it all over again. Weekends – their leisure time – is reserved for 7-hour bike rides starting at sunrise followed by a run for an hour or so. I know this because we have an Ironman competitor, Frank Chiuppi, here at RA for Men.
For Frank, it’s already been engrained that daily UV protection is vital and he was already taking care of his skin on a daily basis (a benefit of being at the RA for Men headquarters). But he also knew he’d need to work to maintain his skin’s health during the intense training time.
“I think endurance and outdoor athletes miss a lot of the opportunities to keep their skin protected and healthy in between workouts,” Frank said. “Just wearing daily sun protection, even when you’re just going to and from work, or replenishing your skin while you sleep, will go a long way.”
A pro tip from Frank: Put back into the skin as much as you can, and reduce that free radical damage as much as possible, not just during the race, but daily. This should be no different than training for the Ironman where you’re balancing working out with rest and recovery, proper diet and hydration. Your skin needs it too.
So how does an Ironman take care of his skin? Don’t worry, it’s not quite as intense as his workout routine. A simple regimen of cleanse, rebuild, protect will do the trick.
- Cleanse daily – With strenuous workouts or excessive heat the body naturally produces sweat and oil. Excess oil production can lead to clogged pores, buildup and acne. A good cleanser with salicylic acid will keep skin clear of impurities and allow other nutrients (in the steps that follow) to penetrate. For quick clean ups we like cleansing pads. These are incredibly convenient post workout and help prevent breakouts, especially for you guys who wear helmets.
- Rebuild and hydrate – When free radicals are present, antioxidants are the name of the game. Use a skin-building toner with peptides, sodium hyaluronate and stone extract to strengthen and hydrate the skin. Frank also likes to use the Complex VI at night for antioxidants, minerals and hydration. These two will replenish the skin with the necessary antioxidants and proteins it needs for cell regeneration. Think of it as refueling the skin.
- Protect, protect, protect – This may be the biggest contributor to free radical damage (UV rays cause 90 percent of the skin’s aging). Use a good daytime protection formula with a mineral blocker like zinc to also help protect against toxins and pollutants. Zinc acts as a natural shield of sorts to deflect the sun’s rays. Apply this daily, even if you are only going to be outside for a few minutes.
Remember, if someone training for the Ironman has time to take care of their skin, everyone does. Don’t overlook the opportunities. Treat your skin like your body – workout it out, replenish, nourish and allow it to recover.