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There is a phenomenon that happens every Spring.  With the snow melt, I’m feelin’ good enough to go out for a run.  It’s just like any other spring time run.  I breathe in the crisp mountain air while listening to the sweet song of the chirping birds.  Shortly after I start I notice a bit of, shall I say, discomfort, under my shirt in the nipple area as moisture wicking clotheswell as in my undercarriage.  I think nothing of it at the time, but as I will later find out, this silent assassin will undoubtedly manifest itself in the shower following the run. It is only then, through the convulsions and blood curdling screams, that I realize I have become victim to the evil plague of chaffing.

Chaffing is a sensitive topic (pun intended), one that is almost taboo due in part to the regions of the body that are affected by it.  It’s one of those things that happens and we, because we may feel ashamed or embarrassed, just deal with it in secret.  I’m here to say that it is okay to talk about it.  That’s how we tackle this beast.  I am going to venture into this delicate area, to expose it for what it is, in effort to help you prepare for and prevent it from happening to you.

Nipple Chafe

Nipple chaffing is extremely common for men in the summertime.  Here’s what happens.  When you leave the house for your marathon training run, your shirt is dry and light. While out on the road you sweat, this causes the shirt to become wet and heavy.  A heavy shirt rubs your nipples, and not in a good way.  The damage to the nipple

tissue is directly correlated with the length of the training run.  If your out for a quick 3 miler, minimal damage.  If your doing a marathon training run of 15 miles or more, your nipples look like a scene out of a Tarantino movie, bloody. If you have ever been at the finish line of long distance race in the spring or summer, you may have seen that unfortunate soul who attempted to run without proper protection. It manifests itself with red circles over the nipples, usually with bloody streaks down the front of the shirt. When you see it you’ll know. It is unmistakable.  I’ve been that unfortunate guy before, and I wouldn’t wish that pain upon even my worst enemy.

Prevention. With all the scary news about nipple chaffing, the good news is that it is actually quite simple to avoid. There are a lot of products out there that are very nipguardeffective.  In the past, I have used a product called NipGuards. which are basically circular adhesive bandages that you apply to your nipples prior to a run.  This acts as a barrier between the nipple and the shirt, thus preventing chaffing.  These work great. You can find them online for about $10 for a package of 10 pairs.  So if you have 2 nipples, it will cover you for 10 training runs.  Your CPN (cost per nipple) is about 50 cents. This can be a more pricey option, especially if you’re in the middle of a rigorous training program.

nipple chaffingThere are some other options along the same lines, one of which is a product called NipEaze These are similar to NipGuards, just a little cheaper.  They will run you about $7 for a package of 15 pair. Your CPN is about 23 cents vs. the other brand.  Also, your CPN will decrease if you buy in bulk.  If you are starting a long training program, buying in bulk may be the most cost effective choice.

Band Aid makes a circular adhesive that are also REALLY reasonable.  You can get 3 boxes of 50 (150 total) for under 9 bucks. That puts your CPN at about 5 cents.  Which is awesome if you are running a lot of miles.

Another great option that I have used is regular Band-Aids.  There are a number of different varieties, colors, styles, brand name, generic, etc.  These are great because you probably already have a bunch of them in your medicine cabinet.  No need to go out and special order, you can use what you’ve already have.  I have tried many different kinds and found that the wide fabric strips work the best.  I will usually criss-cross them into an “X” shape to ensure full coverage.

Whether you’re training for a half marathon or just starting out, nipple chaffing will affect you.  You can spend a lot to alleviate the issue or you can come up with your own solution.  It all comes down to personal comfort.  If the NipGuards work for you, great.  Use them.  If you feel better using a couple of generic bandages that you’ve cut to your exact nipple diameter, awesome.  Do it.  They’re your nipples protect them however you’d like, but you gotta protect them.  You don’t want to be that guy at the finish line with the unfortunate red stripes on his shirt.  Believe me, that’s not a lesson you need to learn the hard way.

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