Heat + Humidity = Chafing

Yesterday, I got up extra early (if you know me at all, you know I am loathe to set an alarm for any time with a “4” in the hour position) so that I could get an 1.5-hour trail run in before I met the TriZones group for an introductory trail run. That meant I had to be running on the greenbelt starting no later than 6:15 a.m., which meant I had to leave the house no later than 5:40 a.m., which meant I had to get up at (ugh) 4:40 a.m. for the appropriate amount of medicine taking/breakfast eating/system clearing time.

I was tired when I got up. I had an relatively early morning Friday with my friend Cathy for 10 miles on the trail (I just joined in for part of her long run) and then Saturday was a bike ride out of Williamson County Regional Park. So third morning in a row, with the earliest for last. And I’m one of those people who just can’t seem to go to bed early to save my life.

My start point was the Barton Creek greenbelt’s 360 trailhead. After a final pit stop and gearing up, I was running at 6:15 a.m.

Leading a Trail Run

It was still relatively dark but light enough to run without a light, though I was happy I’d taken a flashlight into the bathroom — OMG it was disgusting. I carried my Camelbak just so I’d be sure to have plenty of water and took things nice and easy. I wanted to refresh my memory on how long it would take a group to go to the end of the trail.

I used to know this stuff like the back of my hand when I was coaching the Rogue trail groups, but 2+ years have erased a lot of things from my memory. And the last few times I’d been this way, we’d taken advantage of the empty creek to cross early and avoid the Chain and whatnot. I was shocked to see that STEPS have been cut into the stone leading up to the Chain!

Barton Creek Greenbelt Chain
The Chain, heading west from the 360 Trailhead.


I took my time, trying to approximate what it would be like with talking and waiting. I’d hoped to get up through the Grotto.

Turns out it took me 40+ minutes to get to the Secret Spring just past the Grotto. Hmmm.  Well, my plan is always to lead and talk on the way out and turn everybody loose on the way back to run his/her own pace, and I sweep. So I ran back at a decent pace, though not fast — still trying to approximate that new-to-the-trail runner. I dropped a good 5+ minutes, and walked some to cool off to get my 1:25. Perfect.

The TriZone run started at 8 a.m. I’d planned enough to bring my TriZones shirt to change into and a fresh handheld full of ice water. This was a good thing, as it was so warm and humid that sweat was just running from my elbows and my clothes were wet enough that I could squeeze the liquid out. I changed shirts and snacked on Fig Newtons while the group arrived. I reapplied Body Glide.

I felt great.

It was a nice sized group, and we got going promptly at 8 a.m. There’s nothing like company to help me run better, and I had obviously gone easy enough on the way out. But there was more stopping and talking than I’d anticipated…and I nervously kept an eye on my watch.

One of my big pet peeves with a workout is the leader who misrepresents what the workout will be. I’d billed the run as being one hour, easy tour-style introduction of that section of trail, and I had two options: cut it off at an hour or do the run as planned but go a bit long on time. Hmmm…I assessed the group and another 15 minutes at that effort level and pace didn’t seem like it would be a problem. Everybody was having fun.

Somewhere in the middle of the run out, I realized that I should’ve changed my shorts. The amount of sweat had pulled the material further down in the crotch, and the salty, sodden material was doing an amazing amount of sawing at my inner thighs. Arrggh.

Adding to my discomfort was the realization that the run out had taken us 53 minutes. I felt horrible. My only hope was that people would run like the wind when turned loose. But that much longer can be problematic for someone who’s not working on running, and I walked with those who were a bit more fatigued. The walking really did a number on my chafed spots. It took 52 minutes back in — my punishment for mismanaging the run.

Total run time for the day:  3:12.

Back at the car, I wrapped a towel around my waist and ditched the shorts ASAP. But I had huge raised welts and swollen skin — I don’t go bloody and scraped raw; it’s like a big allergic reaction, all red and puffy.

Pool time with some girlfriends in the afternoon helped (hey, no thighs have to touch to float and drink beer, and they got a huge chuckle out of my bowlegged walking). By evening, I was worn out. I got into jammies while it was still light; at 8:45 p.m., hubby found me asleep. I rolled out of bed around 7 a.m. this morning, chafing subsiding, and thoroughly rested. Life is good.

Trail Takeaways to Avoid Chafing

Next time I have a long trail run like that, I’ll put extra shorts in the car. But my questions are:

  • What do I do when I’m not going back to the car?
  • How can I prevent this from happening with no change of clothes?
  • I still had plenty of Body Glide on my skin; why wasn’t it enough protection?

Maybe the answer is to wipe down my thighs with water to remove some salt before reapplying Body Glide.

Or maybe this is why so many trail runners wear compression style shorts.

Good questions for all those folks who do 50+ milers, because this has to happen to other people (male and female).

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

0 thoughts on “Heat + Humidity = Chafing

  1. Wow! Sounds like an awesome day. Chafing – yeah that happens to me too and more often now in this hot humid weather. I have heard that is why people wear those compression short. I think your idea of the washing/drying/body glide might work – let us know what you find out.

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