Melanin…the molecule on our skin…well…some of our skin that causes some beautiful things to happen (others…like my Irish relatives…call these freckles). What per say am I talking about here? A nice well rounded tan! And there is something to say about a nice well rounded runner with a tan…How in the heck did that guy/girl have the time to get that?!?
Having a very…very…very Italian side of the family, my siblings look very dark at certain times of year, and at certain points in their life. My mom, a marathoner herself, looks like she just came out of the batch of brownie mix. In fact, if my melanins get to interact with the big ol yellow thing in the sky for enough time, then a little tone-age can be achieved…a little…a wee bit!
Look, there are so many different types of tans and specialties and locations with runners. Let’s start with probably the most talked about…the great…old fashioned…simply named…and if uncovered…most devastatingly looking…”farmers tan!” So how is this achieved? There is actually quite a simple formula here that one must put in place to achieve this maximum…semi…tannage. Start with applying a nice full-out t-shirt sized…well…t-shirt, and then go for a run during a time when the sun is out. With consistent application, this will absolutely help you achieve maximum “farmer” tannage!
The second category that is found here is the middle ground between “farmer” and the last group. This middle of the road is so aptly named…well…”the middle of the road” tan! Yay! Being a personal member of this group…and a proud member at that…we try to achieve maximum tannage, but just don’t have the time or effort to do so. These runners during the hot season usually wear some sort of tank…or sleeveless shirt that shows off a semi-farmers tan, with a hint of brownage being brought through. Usually by the end of the season…there is a slight hint that, “hey…that guy/girl might be tan!”….but we’re not…oh well.
The final group is somewhat of an enigma. They have full coverage…and they have it all year round. There is no explanation for this group except that they use those submarine looking things (tanning beds)…and actually pay for it. In the dead of winter, it is quite depressing to run past someone who has thoroughly taken some time to “burn” their skin to the point of…sigh…looking good. There is something that looks “healthy” about a nice well rounded tan…and well…yeah…there’s some jealousy on this end. Oh well…there’s always retirement!
All in all…you have to find your maximum achievable “tannage.” It’s going to differ by skin type, background, running acumen (if you always run inside…guess what…no tan for you!), and a lot of other stupid factors. You just have to take what you can get. Absolutely, is it possible to get to that next level…for some…yes…just take caution. If you do get there…it comes at a price! There might be some itching…soreness…and absolute greasy gunkage due to the amount of sunscreen you’re going to need in order to “brown-up.” But sure enough…before you go for that south beach rollerblader look, take some time, so you don’t completely look like an idiot when you trip…and look down and lace up!