Triathlete Woe #2: Chafe Me With Your Best Shot

Forever ago I introduced Triathlete Woes. My first woe experienced by triathletes, cyclists, and runners alike was the friggin’ bugs that you encounter when training. This time I wanted to talk about the bane of this damn sport and of being active in general. Of course, I’m talking about everyone’s common enemy: chafing.

I’ve gotten chafing everywhere. And by “everywhere,” I mean everywhere. My ankles, my armpits, my sternum, the small of my back, my inner thighs, my ribcage, the back of my neck, and yes, the demoralizing “are you freakin’ kidding me” spot known as the asscrack. This diagram fully illustrates which parts of my body have been rubbed raw from friction, clothing, or some other random bullshit while training or racing:

The buttcrack is the worst.

I’ve gotten ankle chafing from timing chips:

A permanent souvenir from Ironman Cancun 70.3

I’ve gotten thigh chafing from a pair of shorts I had worn a hundred times before, but when I wore them for a half marathon, they inexplicably tore my legs up so bad that I had to cover the scabs in gauze for a few days. I’ve gotten pelvis chafing from swimsuits, which is just mind-boggling. I’ve developed thick neck scabs from wet suit chafing. If you threw a dart at a diagram of a body, chances are I’ve gotten chafing there.

Here’s a chafe mark along the lower part of my stomach that looks like I got slashed by a knife-wielding maniac:

Courtesy of the 2010 Ironman Boise 70.3

And here’s a chest chafing that looks like the shape of New Jersey:

I've been branded with the mark of the guido

This past weekend my sternum got torn to shit during a hill repeat run:

Note the old chafe scar in the middle, sandwiched between the new ones

My sternum has gotten chewed up so much from heart rate monitors that I have resorted to covering the spot with a Band-aid before workouts (which has led to Jason calling me King Hippo), but even that failed me on Saturday.

Chafing sucks. It has no pattern, no rhyme or reason. I’ll use a crapton of Glide and will still get it. I’ll wear a tried and true pair of shorts and will still get it. I’ll have a short workout and will get a mark out of nowhere. But the worst part of the chafing isn’t its randomness. No sir. That I’m getting used to. I’ve grown accustomed to sudden chafe marks in various parts of my body I previously thought were immune to chafing.

No, the absolute worst part of chafing is the post-workout shower. It’s like a scene out of Psycho–I peel off my soggy, sweat-soaked clothes, turn the shower on to its hottest setting, and step in, preparing for a luxurious and relaxing cleansing. Then a single bead of water propels out of the shower head and pellets onto the one half square inch of skin on my entire body that has been rubbed raw, a spot I didn’t even know existed until now, and it feels like someone threw hydrochloric acid all over me. I screech and start whirling around in a frenzy, howling, “AGHHHGHHHHHHH WHATTTTT THE HELLLLLLLLL,” not being able to pinpoint the exact spot that has betrayed me until several seconds later when the pain subsides and I succeed in curling myself into the tiniest ball imaginable in the corner of the tub, away from the Razor Droplets from Hell and whimpering like a stray dog. The best part of my day, the glorious post-workout shower, has now been robbed of all its splendor because of one tiny fucking chafe mark.

So here’s to you, chafing, you miserable, awful side effect of endurance sports. I hate you with the intensity of a thousand Christian Bales. By the time I’ve thrown in the towel with this sport, I’ll have more marks on my body than a drug cartel member has tattoos. At least I’m fortunate to be dating someone who doesn’t mind them; I can’t imagine going out with someone and explaining to him that no, I don’t get into back alley knife fights as a hobby.

4 Responses to “ “Triathlete Woe #2: Chafe Me With Your Best Shot”

  1. Karin says:

    Oh yeah! Knock on wood I have been pretty lucky in the chafing department, but I did get a gnarly wetsuit hicky in Austin. Bodyglided everywhere else, but forgot the neck. And, man, did that mo-fo sting in the shower!

  2. teresa says:

    Every scar tells a story 🙂


  3. Sean says:

    yeah, the ass crack is bad, but the nipples are worse. and you’d think, that after years of running in Vancouver (ie: running in a perpetual state of almost raining, raining or just rained) I’d know to glube (glide + lube = glube) up more effectively.

    but no.

    now, even when I don’t have chaffed nipples, as soon as the water hits my chest I freeze in anticipation of the blinding pain that I’m sure is about to come and remind me of my ignorance. a few seconds which take at least 30 mind minutes go by before I’m able to unclench my body enough for water to find the butt crack chaffing I’d forgotten about while worrying about my nipples.

    ah joy.

  4. Molly says:

    OMG! “demoralizing “are you freakin’ kidding me” spot known as the asscrack” – oh yes!

    I have scars on my wrist, that look like I tried to cut myself with a razor, from the athlete wristband at IM AZ – it came out from under my wetsuit and rubbed my wrist raw during the swim!

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