Allow me a moment to ponder chaffing...
One of the things I enjoy about running is that this particular subject is so often discussed by everyone. In other words, it is a very common problem and surprisingly enough, runners have no problem talking about it. Me being overweight, have dealt with this issue forever. Talking about it however, has been a big no no. Too embarrassing perhaps? Maybe. But now as a runner, I can talk about so, let's talk about it.
Chaffing, for the uninitiated, is rubbing your skin raw by friction. Sometimes, we move in certain ways over and over (like when we run) and friction slowly does its job -whether against clothing, our own skin or whatever- to the point where pain and discomfort sets in big time. Now, if you think it hurts once it sets in during your run, wait until you get home and shower. Your own sweat, skin oils and even dirt act as lubricators of sorts so when you get your clothing off and pour water and soap on the affected areas... well... I look at it this way: You want someone to confess, about anything, you make them run 5 miles in tropical humidity wearing thick cotton underwear then make them shower. Confession guaranteed.
The main reason I haven't really mentioned this until now is that I have been pleasantly surprised by how small of an issue this has been so far for me. Being overweight, I thought chaffing could potentially keep me from running regularly but after switching to running shorts I have had very few problems.
I'm having a bit of a lose-lose situation. Now that I'm regularly running long distances, I started to have problems in between my legs, specifically the elastic border along my underwear. (I use briefs) Now, I have read that many runners simply go "commando" since most running shorts do have a soft liner inside that kind of acts like underwear anyway so why not? I did a three mile test run and seemed to work wonders so from then on, I went "commando" all the time. Then, I did a 10 mile long run.
I didn't put the cause together at the time but here is what happened: After mile 5, my shorts started getting wet. Like, really wet. So wet actually the I thought my hydration belt was leaking or something. Eventually it was totally drenched and it was sticking to my skin. Friction stepped in and by the end, not only was the area between my legs raw but my inner thighs as well. Everywhere the shorts stuck in my inner thighs, there was chaffing. My shorts have a 9 inch inseam so it went pretty far down. Ouch.
I didn't think me going "commando"was the culprit. After that long run, I did my usual regular weekly runs and while the shorts got a bit wet it wasn't as bad so I thought it was maybe the hydration belt (which I use only on long runs) for sure. So when I did my next long run I checked it thoroughly before and during the run and it wasn't leaking. Not only that, the shorts were once again drenched and my thighs raw. I just didn't get it. Then, I figured it out. I sweat like a pig*.
It's par for the course in such a humid place like Puerto Rico. Sweating comes with the territory whether you are running or sitting down and I sweat more than most I guess. It turns out, the underwear was acting as a sweat absorbent of sorts so when I went "commando" there was no buffer and all that sweat simply got into my shorts and you know the rest. That's why it wasn't happening as bad in the shorter runs. There wasn't enough time. I need to be running for more than an hour before it starts to become a problem. But here's the thing. Even with underwear, the shorts will get wet if the run is long enough. I'm talking beyond 10 miles. Running a Half-Marathon or Marathon could be hazardous to my thighs apparently. So what to do?
The discussion of tights has come up. Some people call it compression wear though I'm pretty sure it is not the same thing. Using some sort of "bike short" underneath my running shorts could provide more sweat absorption as well as thigh protection if the shorts get wet. I gotta get my hands on some and test them out. The Divas Half- Marathon is right around the corner and time is running out.
*I really don't understand this common saying as I honestly don't know if, or how much, pigs actually sweat but bear with me here.