Many clothing manufacturers, including Specialized, are including SPF in their cycling clothing. If you’re going to spend time on your bike this summer, looking for clothing with built-in SPF is a good start. What else can you do to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays?
In an article on Ironman.com, Kara Deschenes, writes about reigning Ironman World Champion Leanda Cave who is eager to remind triathletes to protect their skin from the sun as summer gets underway
Get Sun Smart with Leanda Cave
By Kara Deschenes
As the reigning world champion in both Ironmand and Ironman 70.3, Leanda Cave is no stranger to forging ahead. As the first woman to claim both titles in the same year, Cave knows what it takes to achieve victory. But as Cave wrapped up a successful 2012, she had no idea the same fortitude she channels on the race course would come in handy off course in 2013.
In February, Cave went to the doctor for a routine skin check only to hear the dreaded words, “You have cancer.” At 35 years old, she was shocked to be diagnosed at such an early age. Though sun exposure is a requirement of her job as a professional triathlete, Cave struggled to comprehend how cancer made its way into her body. Though she uses sunscreen and wears hats and sunglasses diligently, Cave still fell prey to a disease that affects more and more people everyday.
The American Cancer Society ranks skin cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer, representing nearly half of all diagnoses in the United States. More than 3.5 million people in the country will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer this year. And while exposure to the sun is unavoidable for triathletes, precaution is key.
During racing and training, be sure to wear a hat and UV-protective sunglasses, along with a broad-spectrum sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher, recommends the Melanoma Research Foundation, one of Ironman’s charity partners.
Triathletes can further minimize the risk of damage from the sun’s harmful rays by scheduling training sessions outside the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s strength is at its peak. Dermatologists also recommend applying sunscreen (Ironman partner Skin Strong offers a variety of sunscreen products) at least 30 minutes before outside activity, in addition to reapplying the cream at least every two hours while swimming or sweating.
Preventative measures are crucial, but triathletes should also establish a relationship with a dermatologist. Scheduling an annual skin check allows the doctor to monitor skin conditions, as well as note any changes in appearance. Athletes should point out moles or bumps of concern, noting any variance in color, texture or feeling. This will help provide essential information for early diagnosis and proper treatment. When discovered early, skin cancer can be completely cured.
Though Cave will need to continue monitoring her skin, she doesn’t want to miss an opportunity to help spread awareness in the triathlon community. Cave doesn’t want to solicit pity, but wants to spread her core message of the importance of protection. “Cancer is the real deal,” she says, adding that it’s up to each person to act responsibly when it comes to the sun. The reigning Ironman World Champion won’t be defeated easily.
To learn more about skin cancer, including the risks, warning signs and treatment options, check out The American Cancer Society for the latest developments.
For more information on melanoma, read the “It’s a Fact” sheet from the Melanoma Research Foundation.
The original article by Kara Deschenes appeared on Ironman.com.