Last Sunday (16 October) was the long-awaited Delhi Half-Marathon, as the race returned after a two-year covid break. Till a few years ago, the popular 21km race would take place mid-to-end of November when Delhi would be cold (and the air polluted). This year, it took place under the harsh October sun. Beginning the run around 6.30am meant finishing it under a scorching sun on a humid day. The result? Painful chafing.
Chafing is a skin condition that is common in endurance sports like running and cycling, where your skin rubs against the skin (example, thighs rubbing against each other while running) or against a piece of clothing (example, sports bra straps, belts, t-shirt tags). It stings and takes your focus away from the activity you’re pursuing. Not to mention that when you shower after your run or ride, you most certainly will scream in pain.
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Some of the ways to prevent chafing are to layer prone areas with petroleum jelly. Chafing generally occurs in warm, moist areas like the inner thighs, groin, buttocks, armpits and under your breasts.Some athletes also use band aids and some invest in anti-chafing gels or even deodorant sticks to prevent this. But they help only to a limited degree. If you have already chafed your skin, trust aloe vera gel and petroleum jelly (or even baby oil) to keep that area from irritating you more. What I have found is that investing in good quality active-wear really helps prevent chafing. Here are some of the products I have tried out myself, and swear by.
For quick drying comfort: Uniqlo’s AIRism line of clothes fits comfortably on any body type. The mapping crew t-shirt has become a favourite for runs, thanks to its quick moisture wicking technology. This highly breathable t-shirt lets you run half-marathons without drenching yourself in sweat; using cupro fibres, which reportedly absorbs and releases sweat from the body. As a layman, even if the fabric technology is of no interest, the feel is certainly one of cool comfort. The t-shirt dries much quicker than a cotton one, making it a great choice for running.
The t-shirt felt less coarse than even a dry-fit polyester top. With a feel closest to silk, it uses almost 90% polyamide (which by the way, has the highest resistance to abrasion of all textile raw materials) and 10% elastane to make it fit like a glove.
Uniqlo AIRism Mapping Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-Shirt; ₹1290; uniqlo.com
For sweat-wicking and airy runs:Under Armour’s Iso-Chill tech works very well in humid areas. The fabric uses flat yarn to disperse body heat and titanium dioxide to absorb UV energy. This means that when you wear it, the t-shirt feels cool to the touch and is super light and airy. It is obviously sweat wicking, which helps in preventing chafing as well.
The t-shirt’s design also deserves a mention. The back of the t-shirt has perforations so that during sweaty runs or workouts, your body still gets enough ventilation, and the sweat doesn’t stick to your skin. My favourite bit is probably the cut outs near the shoulder blades. This isn’t just great for feeling less sweaty, but also increases ease of movement for both runs (where your hands are moving back and forth repeatedly) and workouts such as burpees or ball slams (which requires you to move your hands in an up-and-down fashion). There is also a reflective patch right at the nape, ensuring some visibility on early morning runs.
Under Armour Iso-Chill 200 Laser T-shirt; ₹4,499; available in stores
For a pain free ride:Okay, so biking shorts are meant for cycling sessions. But the Silvertraq shorts are also excellent for running in. This is especially so because the fit ensures that it won’t ride up on your thigh while running. If your shorts ride up, your thighs are free to rub against each other and before you know it, you have chafing and walking like a duck the next few days.
What I also like about these shorts is that they come with side pockets that are deep enough to fit your phone, keys and probably a packet of energy gel. Though not seamless, the seams are stitched in a way that they are not abrasive. This again results in lesser friction and less chafing. It comes with the same quick dry technology that you want in your workout wear, along with what the brand calls “anti-odour” tech. Made with a mix of polyester (88%) and spandex (12%), the shorts are pure comfort. Also, bike shorts are very trendy as casual wear I am told. So, you could easily double these up for mall hopping or brunch.
Silvertraq Biker Shorts for women; ₹1,699; silvertraq.com
Sohini Sen is a writer based in Delhi.