Health & Fitness.

Avoid Bleeding Nipples At All Cost

I finally succeeded in something I’ve been trying to do for years. I talked someone into running a half-marathon with me. I’ve felt like I could use some accountability in my training and haven’t really found anyone even remotely interested. But then I ran into a certain someone at the 5K on Saturday (not literally, although it could have been considering how clumsy I am) and thought, “Hmm. Maybe she’ll be up to it.” Turns out? she is.

So now that I can’t back out – (Right Sarah? I can’t…Can I?) I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I learned the first time around. I was completely new to running then, especially distance running of any sort. Since it’s been 2 years, I feel like I’m starting all over again. Suddenly these lessons/tips are creeping back into my mind. I thought I’d share them with you in case any of you are starting on the same type of journey. If you have any to add – I’d love to hear them.

  • Most half-marathons give out medals TO ALL FINISHERS. This was the most awesome thing to discover. I overheard a few women talking about the medals at a race a few weeks before my first half-marathon. I was convinced I misunderstood. Surely those medals are for the winners. Right. Nope. They’re for EVERYONE. When they handed that to me after I crossed the finish line I didn’t think there would ever be anything I could cherish more in my life. EVER. I was not a super-athlete growing up…what few trophies I had were the kind the whole team gets at the end of a season. There was also that gymnastics trophy my Dad had made for me…just for the hell of it…but I don’t think that counts either. So the medal? MOST AWESOME THING EVER.
  • You need to find a way to carry water with you when you run. When I first started doing my weekend long runs, I faced the dilemma about water. It’s easy on the treadmill: They have cupholders! But how do I stay hydrated when I’m running outside? Races have water every mile or so, but where would I get water during my training runs? I started running with your basic 20oz water bottle in my hand. That ended up getting annoying so I went to the local running store (Fleet Feet: Soon to become one of my favorite places on earth.) and looked to see if they had any solution. Turns out? There are TONS. There are waistbands that hold one large bottle or several small ones. There are bottles with hand straps. There are even backpacks meant to just hold water! Tons of options, you just have to find what works for you.
  • Clothing choices become important with longer distances. The longer time you are running, the more likely certain clothes will start to chafe you. I remember my brother discussing his mistakes in fabric leading to chaffing and then bleeding nipples. This struck fear into my heart because, while I was fairly certain my sports bra would prevent that occurrence, the fear of bleeding nipples was enough for me to take chaffing VERY seriously. I did learn that on runs longer than 45 minutes I should eliminate the cotton t-shirt. The sleeves chaffed my underarms. I also learned that some shorts chafe my thighs on long runs. I had raw spots on my inner thighs for weeks one time after I had the brilliant idea to wear a new pair of shorts I had never tested for a 7-mile run. Everyone is different but NO ONE should run long distances in UNTESTED CLOTHING. Never. Ever. If you feel like something is going to chafe regardless of your clothing, coat that area with Vaseline. First Aid stations along most half-marathon courses will even have vaseline on hand just for those moment. Nothing like asking a complete stranger for Vaseline to make yourself feel vulnerable.
  • The goal is to FINISH. When you set out to run a certain distance, whether it’s for a training run or the race itself, a beginner’s goal should just be to finish the distance. If you have to walk? It’s okay. You can still say you ran a half-marathon even if you walk periodically. Some trainers recommend you run ten minutes and walk one minute if you’re a novice. Others recommend you take the water breaks along the course (usually about every 1.5 miles) to take a walking break. I chose the latter to be my method. I walk through the water breaks. Not only does it give me that glorious break from running, but it allows me to maximize the water I ingest because drinking water and running simultaneously: Not as easy as it looks.
  • Don’t become dependent on your iPod. Every race is different, but nowadays it’s difficult for certified courses to get insured unless they insist that runners NOT wear headphones. Now, you could always do it anyway, but you won’t get your name listed in results, you won’t be eligible for prizes if you’re fast (not a concern for me), and you might not get a medal (HUGE concern for me) if they’re handing them out. If you’re used to running with your music, it might be very challenging on race day to give it up. Keep that in mind.
  • You can never spend too much money on socks if you’re prone to blisters. I am very prone to blisters. I have therefore tested every sock on the market. I have found the pair that seems to be LESS likely to give me blisters (although I do still get them sometimes) and they cost $10 a pair. That’s an awful lot for a pair of socks. But I only need one pair if I’m diligent about laundry. An take it from someone who had 3 layers of blisters one time, it’s worth every penny. (Yes. I’ve tried your blister solution. Trust me. I didn’t work. Thanks for telling me though!)
  • A new running outfit can be a great motivator. This is actually something my Dad taught me. If you go out and buy a new running outfit, what are you going to want to do? GO RUN IN IT. Very simple but also very brilliant. Now, don’t buy a new outfit before the half-marathon unless you’ve tested the fabric/style before. (Remember: AVOID BLEEDING NIPPLES AT ALL COSTS.) But if you have a favorite pair of shorts (I do!) then buy a new color for your big race. It’s amazing how much of a difference that can make in your running mood.
  • Good running shoes shouldn’t need to be broken in. This was a HUGE shock to me. I bought my first pair of real running shoes after my first half-marathon but before my 2nd one. Turns out I didn’t need to worry about breaking them in, they’re designed to be run in from Day One. The first run I did in my new shoes? Was a half-marathon! And it went VERY well. I am still using those shoes currently – dreading the day I have to replace them. I have no idea where the line is between “real” running shoes and generic running shoes, but I felt safe that anything I bought at Fleet Feet would work. They have never let me down on any recommendations and they actually suggested I buy the least expensive shoe of the group they recommended to me. “If that show does not feel 50% better, then you should not spend 50% more on it.”
  • Salt is very important when you run. I was very confused the first time I passed a table on a race where people were handing out salt packets. I found myself thinking, “Um…is this candid camera?” Turns out? It’s very important. This is why so many sports drinks are loaded with salt. And why – when I ran my marathon – I found myself CRAVING the sports drinks that tasted SO BAD. I just needed the salt in them, even if they did taste like urine.
  • Pace Yourself. It is very easy to get caught up in the runners around you in a race or a running group. If other people are running faster, you’ll want to do the same. I have done poorly on SEVERAL runs because of this, but most dramatically at my first half-marathon. I never felt like I was running too fast until I would get to the first mile marker/time keeper. Then I’d find myself going, “Wow! Good time! I feel great!” And I usually did because adrenaline will do that to you. Then…Mile 2? Not so great. Then…Mile 3? Dead. And I had 10 to go. When I ran my second one in Tucson, my brother helped me keep pace with his GPS watch. That one went MUCH better. Yes, lots of people were passing me. But you know what? I didn’t fizzle out. I walked through my water stations and ran every other step along the way.

Maybe something here will help you along the way. Maybe it will just teach you something new. Hopefully it will help you avoid chaffing. That’s my goal, you know. To make sure your nipples don’t bleed.

22 thoughts on “Avoid Bleeding Nipples At All Cost”

  1. That is awesome “real person” advice. I recently completed the “Couch to 5k” program and ran my first 5k a few weeks ago. Am doing another one in another few weeks, and would love to work my way up to a 10K and eventually a 1/2 marathon (maybe next year?)… anyway – your info is very inspirational and helpful. thanks, and good luck!!

    Beth (mommy to a nearly-6 year old)

  2. I’m running my first half in the fall. I’ve done two 10-milers, but that was years ago. I’m not sure I’ll ever run a marathon, but this is one step closer to knowing if I will. When will you be running yours?

  3. @Emily (still not receiving my comment notifications so I’m having to reply in the comments section) – I’m running mine in November!

  4. I signed up for a 10-miler this fall… I think if I can survive that, I’m going to try a half-marathon next year.

    I am still having the hardest time finding shorts I like. I have one pair, but then the style got changed on me and every pair of those shorts I’ve bought since just don’t work for me. What are you recommendations? (I figured, shoes and socks are pretty personal, but shorts might be safe enough to get a recommendation from someone.)

  5. Hi! I have been lurking around here forever– I used to be a frequent commenter a few years ago. I just had my second child five weeks ago, and I am studying up on learning to run. I have NEVER been a runner, but when I was pregnant I promised myself that once I was medically cleared to, I would learn to run. Any advice you give is welcomed!!

  6. Okay. I THINK my comments are fixed. I think I’m getting notifications now (If you’d like to test this out by commenting I’ll reply to you to confirm it worked. THANKS.)

  7. This is helpful, but also makes me nervous. I’ve yet to find shorts I can run in – I’m using old yoga pants! But it’s gonna be too hot for those when it’s time for my race. As for shirts? Bah. Hate those, too. Why is it so hard to find decent running clothes? The socks and shoes? Got those down…

  8. I don’t run but I do walk. I do the 3 Day Breast Cancer walk each year and that consists of training for walking 60 miles in 3 days. I’ve not gotten any blisters since I switched to the Injinji Toe Socks. If you haven’t tried them, I really recommend that you do.

  9. wow, lots of good advice. maybe I will actual go running one day. I hope the race goes good for you!

  10. Great post! I started running a few years ago, and I’m definitely not the fastest one out there, but I love the challenge. A few comments – Body Glide (available at sports shops) will help with all kinds of chafing. I have serious sports bra chafing (I got hooters, people) and some generous application of Body Glide has left me chafe-free, even on 20-mile runs in humid DC summer. For men: band-aids on the nipples, dudes. Shorts: I’m genetically blessed with “athletic” thighs. There’s some rubbin’ that goes on. I have run in compression-type shorts (“bike” shorts w/o the padding) but switched a couple of years ago to New Balance Mira shorts. Longer length, supersoft material, no chafing! I use with a healthy dose of Body Glide for long runs and humid days. Run on, y’all.

  11. Zoot. I just started running and am looking at running a 5K as my goal. It’s getting hot here in South Texas and I did my first run on a treadmill yesterday. It felt really odd and today I’m sore in different places than when I was running on the street. Any advice for treadmill training?

  12. I’m not a runner (unless the ice cream truck has just passed my house) but find your posts really inspiring. I remember reading about a product called Nip Stick on the Indigo Wild website; it’s to prevent chafing. I don’t know if it’s something you’d want to try (like I said: not a runner, haven’t used it, not getting paid by the company to mention it) but if you want to look it up, here’s the link:

    I committed, around 3:00 a.m. this morning (when I was clearly out of my damn mind), to walking a 5K with a friend in a couple months. As I’ve recently only excelled at walking from my chair to the kitchen and back — in addition to two half-mile walks in the past two months that have left me feeling like I wanted to die — I’m nervous but excited. I’ve done plenty of charity walks and know without a doubt I can do it. Just… gotta… step… away… from… my… laptop. 😉

    Good luck, Zoot! 😀

  13. Running partner=best idea ever! I was an athletic person when I was in college, but never was really into running. Then, two months ago, I was a bit tipsy at my 30th birthday party and declared my intention to run in the Bolder Boulder (v. popular 10k held on Memorial Day.) My friend took me seriously, declared himself my running partner, and lo and behold, we ran the race on Monday AND beat our goal of a sub-60min time. (By :15 seconds. Hells yeah!) We’ve already decided we’re going to keep training for a half-marathon either this fall or next spring. I never could have made it without him!
    On a side note: the day I find a pair of shorts that don’t come up to my armpits AND don’t work their way up all in my crotch so my thighs do their best imatation of firestarters, I’ll buy a pair in every color. Till then, viva la spandex undershort!

  14. The weekend before my birthday it’s the London Marathon. My Dad used to joke about putting me in for the mini marathon (I think its like 3 or 5 miles rather than the whole hog!)

    He keeps joking now about putting me in for the full marathon – I can guarantee I think I’d die before getting to the end.

    I keep wanting to start running and stuff but I don’t know where to start – maybe you can help lol.

  15. I’m running my first half-marathon with my sister in November. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time!

    wait? no ipod? really?

  16. Thanks for the tips. I am going to run my first 1/2 marathon next March (the Disney Princess one) and I am going to need all the help I can get!

  17. Zoot – one thing my marathon coach reminded me that sometimes the shoes *do* need “breaking in” — though not in the traditional sense, I guess. Since shoe manufacturers upgrade certain styles every year or so, eventually, your favorite style of shoe is going to be discontinued. (Which is why its a great idea to keep an eye for sales on your favorite shoe at expos, online, in stores, etc.) When the new style is introduced, even if its the same family (Asics 2130s vs 1130s), they do make changes – and some of the changes can create hotspots that your old shoes didn’t… like thinner material on the tongue, a slightly wider heel-cup, taller sides around the ankles, etc.

    Add to that, often times, by the time you replace your shoes, the insole on your older shoe is worn down pretty far from all the impact. The new shoes are going to have brand-new springiness, and your instep/heel arch may be sore the first couple runs from trying to compensate for the difference.

    I guess it all boils down to the fact my coach told me to give my shoes at least 2 weeks of regular runs (maybe 3x/week) at shorter distances (at least relative to your training schedule) before taking them out for an hour or more.

    And enough with the parenthetical statements…

  18. Sarah Lena – Huntsville, AL – Sarah Lena has been writing online since the internet was born, or at least since it was cruising around living room furniture and drooling on everything. Her personal blog, The Anvil Tree, is where she basically moans and kvetches on a regular basis. Sarah Lena's deep love of pop culture knows no bounds, and there is no reality show she won't touch, no child-star she won't coax into rehab, and no Gosselin she won't awkwardly try and defend a little.
    Sarah Lena says:

    We are going to do this, you and I. It’s gonna suck but in November, we’re both going to be so svelte and amazing that we’ll be so glad we did it.

    And my personal hint: the Nike shorts up there look great, and a great investment if you’re a serious runner, but C9 at Target (the Champion brand) makes a serious knock-off that’s a fraction of the price. That’s what I’ve pretty much lived in thus far.

    Here’s what I think they are online (none of the descriptions mention an inner liner/panty, and that’s what sold me):

  19. @Sarah Lena — I tried those C9 running shorts on in the store a couple weeks ago and didn’t like them. The waistband really bothered me, although I will admit I am unfortunately very picky about material and waistbands. I’ve tried the Nike tempo track shorts (just once now) and loved them.

    Almost all my workout clothes are C9, so I definitely recommend people try them out, but I’ve had no luck with their shorts. I have one pair of C9 shorts that I like from about 2 years ago, but they changed them and all pairs I’ve bought since don’t work for me.

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