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Petroleum jelly proves essential for marathon runners

Running and Fitness
Saturday, December 8, 2018

This past weekend the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon was held.  Some 3,500 runners entered the marathon and another 11,500 ran the half marathon. There were many of the runners from San Marcos and Central Texas that were part of the run. Within that group there were several first time runners entering the marathon distance. The comments on the Facebook and Twitter were very typical of what it is like to run the 26.2 distance for the first time.

Comments were from, “I ran the entire distance,” to “I had to walk a few times,” and “I cried around mile 20,” and “I was so tired at the end, but felt so good to know that I finished.” Then there were the posts of after race celebration with photos, a big lunch, a few drinks, and heading toward the bed for some much needed recovery. Running a marathon is a big challenge and lot of time and training went into completing the distance. Some runners are motivated to run another one while others are satisfied with this being the one and only marathon in their log book.  The one time runners can answer the question from a friend if they have ever run a marathon, and say, “Yes, I have run a marathon,” and that is a correct answer.

The one comment that brought back memories of training for a marathon, and the long miles that had to put in prior to the actual race, was a blog about how chafed they were after the race. When you think that a runner takes from 1,500 to 2,000 steps each mile during that 26.2 miles of running there is a potential for some friction on various parts of the body.  

The use of Vaseline, or a generic petroleum jelly, is a standard part of the medicine kit. The runner can buy a specialized anti-rub jelly at the local running store, but a generic petroleum jelly is the least expensive, a bit thicker, and from experience, works the best. The application of the jelly is where things get complicated.

It starts out with a good dab between the legs on the upper inner thigh. This works for those first long runs. As the miles get longer you find that a little dab between the toes, and maybe on the heel, helps the rubbing there. And as a runner soon finds out, every time the legs move in a stride, the arms also move back and forth. A quick dab in the upper arm and arm pit area solves that irritation.

As the miles continue to be increased there may be days on a training run where you are running in warm weather. The warm weather will cause the runner to sweat. The sweat drips down the face and will invariably find the eyes. One simple solution to that is to tie a bandana around the forehead to absorb the sweat.  The second solution is to take the trusted petroleum jelly and rub it across the eyebrows so that the sweat is detoured to the side of the face and out of the eyes.

The next area to find it necessary to use the jelly is for the nipples on the chest. This is especially true for women but it does not rule out the men in this case.  A woman can wear a specialized sports bra that helps some, but anytime you have material against the skin and there is movement, you have friction and rubbing. I have seen a number of men cross the finish line with two red marks on the chest that looks like they have been shot twice with a pellet gun during the race.  A dab of petroleum jelly on the nipples is once again a solution to the problem. 

For a long training run, or the marathon, the ritual of taking out the jar of petroleum jelly and applying it to nine or ten areas of the body takes some time. Putting on the jelly for every long run will find that a runner can go through a jar of the stuff faster than you would think.  It does not hurt to have a spare tube or small jar of the stuff for emergencies if the big jar runs out before the day of the marathon.

One other mention from the first time marathoners was how grateful they were for their support crew.  Whether it was from the family, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a running partner, or a supportive neighbor, they really appreciated the help and encouragement they had during, and after, the race. It helps to receive a hug at the finish line, or at least a supporting arm around the waist to help you walk to an aid station and some refreshments.  

Congratulations to the runners who completed the marathon, and all the hard work and training that it took to achieve your success.  The first one seems to always be the hardest, and if you decide to run another one, it will be easier the second time around. Just keep in mind that 26.2 miles is a long way and be realistic in deciding how fast you will run the next one.  Take your time in the first half of the race and if you feel good around mile 15 you might want to try a faster pace. Be cautious here though. I had one friend that ran a little too fast early on and made it to mile 26 and dropped. A few hundred yards left and he did not finish. Be sensible, use common sense, listen to your body, and enjoy running the marathon and its challenges.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666