To Underwear or Not, Bleeding Nipples? and Other Embarrassing Topics!

Ok hit me with your best shot.  I got a great question this week about what type of undergarments to wear if any.  I realized that there are a whole slew of questions out there that we haven’t touched on yet.  So let me have them.  I’m hard to embarrass, most likely I’ve either had it happen to me or one of the athletes that trains with me!  We’ll start with the underwear question and the ever lingering bleeding nipple concern and go from there.

Underwear or Not to Wear

Running shorts are built with liners for a reason.  They are thin and sweat wicking.  The liners cover everything that should be covered, without getting in your way or riding up.  If you don’t run in running shorts with liners, give it a try.  You do not need to wear undies under those liners.  If you do wear something underneath, make sure to choose technical undies like Under Armor style.  There are as many types as there are ideas, I’ve even seen thong technical undergarments!  Like everything else, do not wear cotton undies.  You will end up with soggy uncomfortableness – remember that we want the first layer touching the skin to be made from a wicking fabric.  For women, running skirts are another option and they are really “skorts” with boy shorts or briefs attached.  Like running shorts, the liners in skirts are meant to be the first layer.  If you wear tights, go with comfort.  For women they typically can act as both your undergarment and your tights, so feel free to go “commando” if you want.  You can also get long briefs or boy shorts to wear under your tights, to help prevent chafing if your tights are a bit loose in the nether regions.

Guys, I didn’t forget you.  Same deal as for the women.  Running shorts with liners are your best bet in the warm months.  Tights with, or without, technical undergarments underneath will (I’m told) keep all your important parts where they should be.  Again, there are so many styles of technical briefs that you should be able to find something that works for you.  Make sure you try it out though, because this is not an area that you want to find out chafes at mile 10 and you have 3.1 miles to go!

Bleeding Nipples

Girls, this is one time you can tune out!  This is mostly a guy problem because sports bras fit snugly against the breasts and don’t move around across the nipples.  Nice!  For guys, if you’ve ever stood at mile 25 of a marathon you’ve more than likely witnessed quite a few men with two red streaks running down their singlets.  Just thinking about it makes me cringe.  It’s real unfortunately, but there are some very simple fixes.  First one?  Nip Guards.  This is an “awesome” product I’m told that takes the rubbing and keeps your shirt away from your sensitive skin.  They are basically little round things that adhere directly to your skin and won’t move “until you choose to remove them” according to their website.  You can buy them online or at any good specialty running store.  Another option is bandaids of course.  They have a tendency to want to come off in sweat, but if you find the right adhesive for you it’s a great option.

Other chafing reduction

Chafing happens.  It happens to all of us at some point, in different places on the body.  Some of the most common places are underarms, inner thighs, along the sports bra seams, waist/belt area, etc.  One of the best ways to avoid or minimize chafing is to use one of the antichafe products.  Typically, runners use a product called Body Glide.  It comes in a stick like a deodorant and you basically rub it anywhere you think will be rubbed the wrong way (which of course you know because you’ve tried all your gear in training runs right?).  Some people use it on their feet to avoid blisters.  I put it on my knees because as I get tired I tend to kick myself in my opposite leg, so wherever you think you need it.  Cyclists have products called Chamois Butt’r and DZ Nuts (I’m not making those names up).  As the names suggest, they are meant for use on a chamois to keep saddle sores at bay but can also be used like Body Glide.  All of these products are lubricants of some type, like Vaseline.  Body Glide is designed to last a long time and not stain your clothes.  I have not personally used DZ Nuts, but have used Body Glide and Chamois Butt’r both on the run and on the bike and they are tremendously helpful!  In a pinch, like out on the run course, aid stations often offer Vaseline and will work for a short time and get you through to the finish line.

Thanks to my buddy Dale for his wisdom on the specifics of being a male runner!  I needed to call in some backup and he is incredibly helpful and frank.

Other embarrassing topics?

I’m sure that there are other concerns that seem personal or embarrassing.  No worries, some weird things come along with endurance training, mostly good, but different (who would have thought you’d be reading about bleeding nipples?).  Feel free to email me at if you have any questions or concerns.

See you all on May 5th!


Posted on April 3, 2012, in Beginners, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on To Underwear or Not, Bleeding Nipples? and Other Embarrassing Topics!.

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