Slowly I am learning that there are numerous creams, gels, pastes, and glides on the market for swimming, biking, and running. I attempt to minimize my consumerism, but boy, some of these things are just awesome! One of my first triathlons was an olympic distance race in the ocean (The Triathlon at Pacific Grove. Awesome race. Awesome town. But I digress.) I wore a sleeveless wetsuit. I trained in said wetsuit (okay, only sort of because at that point I had not yet found the group who swims in the Auke lake and I think I only got my husband to go with me – ie watch from shore – a couple of times. Once in the wrong freezing cold lake that I later learned is often closed to swimming because of the high fecal content. I got a migraine after that miserable attempt to swim). Anyway, I had definitely only trained in fresh water. But during my .9 mile swim done with bare arms and no protective pastes, I completely rubbed off my top layer of skin so that I had two raw red patches under my arms – about the size of a deck of cards each. The next day I did that same course, but only half the distances, for the sprint triathlon (same name, but they call the double races the PGsquared). Adrenaline got me through, but the stinging at the start was no fun at all.
This blunder is how I learned about Aquaphor (pictured below). Someone at the pool (once I returned home bearing my still-raw arms) suggested I get this product. I had no clue what she was talking about. I have since learned that this stuff works wonders for chaffing spots or similar minor skin irritations to speed healing.
I have also learned that what I should have used to prevent the chaffing in the first place is Body glide. Now I use it for my neck area for my (sleeved) wetsuit. Others use all types of different things, including oil sprays, for this purpose. I don’t think that body glide is perfect, but have not yet felt the need to explore and try something better.
So now to the butt butters. These have been entirely new to me in the last year or so. Chamois cream is the other term for them. I hear that some need it, others don’t. The idea is that it helps prevent chaffing around your nether regions. There are numerous brands and types in existence. The only I have tried are below (3 in total). I have almost used my entire tube Chamois Butt’r but now find I only need some type of cream for longer rides (ie when on the trainer for an hour or so, I don’t bother). This was my first purchase. When it was almost out, I decided to try the Eurostyle brand by the same company. I figured Europeans are known for riding, so maybe that version is better. Well, the only difference I can tell is that the Eurostyle has some kind of menthol so it gives a little tingle. What? I find this completely odd, but perfectly fine to use.
The 3rd butt butter I have tried is Squirt. The fact I found this miracle gel is quite a wonder. I read an article somewhere recommending the Squirt chain lube and ordered it. With my chain lube came this butt lube – just a couple of small sample packets. I tried it and it is absolutely amazing, and all I want to use for long rides. It is super thick and difficult to apply unless it is really warm, but it somehow contains magic powers that reduce pain. One of my first rides with it was about 70 miles on a rental bike in California. I should have been in absolute agony on a rental seat for that long (I am slow and was riding slower that day. I don’t remember my hours in the saddle…but it was a lot). But I wasn’t in agony. I was a little sore, but mostly just fine. The only problem I have found is in a race. I am not convinced that it stays on well during the swim, and it is hard to apply when wet and was impossible to reach down there in my tri suit. Hopefully I will figure out a solution this season.
This brings me to the final cream that I could find in my house – Embrocation. I read about it in some christmas gift list – it is for cyclists and supposed to keep legs warm enough to ride outside in cold weather while still in shorts. So far I have only tried it twice, on very cold days, under running tights and while running. No idea if applying it under clothes is somehow bad, but it seems to help keep my legs from getting too cold, so I am so far a fan. And when it is 40’s and rainy all summer, I may find it great on long runs so I can stay in shorts.
Oh, and now my preferred use of the Chamois Butt’r, though I do still condone its intended use, but it also has helped on my toes for long runs to avoid blisters in blister-prone areas.
And that sums up my 3 year foray into creams, gels, and pastes for swimming, biking, and running.