Chub Rub

I know what if feels like, but I did not know it had a name. In fact, I am intimately familiar with this particular phenomenon. That phenom would be “chub rub”. Such an affectionate name for what is essentially the most painful chafing I have ever encountered.

The worst part is that it could have been deterred.

But I get a head of myself. Let me jump back to the events that lead to my fateful experience with chub rub.

Prepping for my first half marathon

I stood in my local sports outfitter store with my accountabilabuddy. We had already picked out the fateful Pepto-Bismol pink matching race shirts and now moved over to the shorts.

“I’m getting these,” RB said holding up a pair of soccer shorts.

“Alright, if you want too. But I am thinking about these,” I pulled a pair of long compression shorts, “They look comfortable and won’t bunch up during the run.”

“Oh, no—you don’t want those,” a voice came from behind us. A tall, lean women in a store shirt stood behind and reached into the rack and pulled out a short, loose looking pair, “I’ve run several marathons, and these work the best.”

“I don’t know, these look comfy—”

RB cut me off, “Clarkie, she obviously has a lot of experience. I think you should get those.”

Two-to-one. I wanted to ignore both their advice and go with my gut. They were both built differently then me. I was short and a little stout. They were both taller and thinner. Despite going with my gut, I put the compression shorts back onto the shelf and took the pair from the saleswomen’s hands. Darn you passive-aggressive personality.

They were cheaper then the pair I was going to buy, so that did make me feel like the experienced saleswoman was trying to legitimately help me out.

Mile 10 of the half marathon

I felt my inner thighs start to burn. I knew my skin had been hitting itself throughout the race. I call this the skin wobble.

When you are just standing still, the thigh skin stays a respectable distance apart. However, add in the bounce from running and that once stationary skin starts to act a little like jello and moves all over the place.

The shorts had been fine the first few times I had worn them before the race, but now when I think about it, they had only been out on short runs and cooler days. Obviously my second mistake after purchasing them was not wearing them in race conditions.

With the midmorning sun beating down and the extended distance, I could feel the pain coming from my legs. Not to mention they kept riding up and giving me a wedgie, and I am fairly certain that I gave the runners behind me quite a show as I dug them out.

I grabbed some Vaseline from one of the water stations off what I believe to be a very sanitary piece of ripped of cardboard mounting the gel in a big glob. But the damage was already done. The gel on my legs made it even more painful as the skin was red and raw.

The aftermath

At work the week following the half marathon, I waddled around the office. Every time my thighs would come in contact with each other I would cringe. Of course the waddling style would not win me any bonus points as the awesome long distance runner that I am. So I spent the entire week hiding in my office and only came out when I was able to get a hold of one of the office interns and ask them to roll me around in my office chair.

I just told everyone it was part of my effort to get everyone else in the office to be as in shape as me, and that started with a chair pushing workout.

Lesson Learned

Although the woman at the sporting outfit store had good intentions, she was thinking about the experience purely from her own perspective, not the perspective of a then novice runner who had still has chubby thighs.

In the future I could rectify the situation by doing the following:

  • Only shop with other thick thigh gals. They understand my plight, and we can work together to deter any pesky sales folks.
  • Only shop primarily online. Sure, I can’t try the stuff on, but there is no one to stop me from purchasing what I want and manipulating my passive-aggressive demeanor.

Or, I could:

  • Just go with my gut and tell the sales folks, “No thanks, I’m good. Been in a couple of these races before, and this is what works for me.”
Another lesson learned; why did I let RB help me pick out shorts in the first place? She never ran a race in her life and picked out soccer shorts. Smart move, runner girl.

In conclusion

I had always just assumed what I had was a really bad case of chafing. Imagine my surprise to learn it did indeed have a technical name: chub rub.

So aptly defined in my latest issue of Runner's World:

“When the inner thighs chafe, causing redness and pain. You don’t need to be chubby for this to happen.”

Ahhh, you don’t have to be chubby, but it certainly helps. But I do appreciate they are trying to help us big thigh gals feel better about ourselves that this could happen to anyone.

But I have found my own way to help. A combo of my compression shorts and some glide gels and I’m good to go.

In fact, I think the sporting goods store should hire me and help them attract a whole new group of customers: runners who have experienced extreme chafing. I’m telling you, there is a huge untapped market out there.

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