Facing up to a little premature ageing

Running will make you far prettier, inside and out, so don't waste time worrying about minor premature ageing. photograph: getty images

Running will make you far prettier, inside and out, so don't waste time worrying about minor premature ageing. photograph: getty images


Wear lots of sunscreen, a pair of shades and drink plenty of water to ward off fears of a saggy jawline

I’ve heard that running makes your skin age on your face, that it makes you look older prematurely. Is this true and what beauty tips/remedies would you recommend to guard against this happening?

I remember reading that too somewhere and, look, there may be an element of truth in it. The constant high impact of pounding up and down can pull the facial skin away from the underlying muscles, leading to a sagging jawline, according to a whole host of plastic surgeons and dermatologists that a quick Google search throws up.

But, hey, they are bound to say that aren’t they, obsessed as they are with perfect skin, and un-lined plumped-out facial contours?

They would probably have a heart attack when confronted with a non-Hollywood sleb-type face such as mine or yours? (I do hope I am not speaking out of turn.)

The Grit Doctor observes:

Paula Radcliffe is looking incredible on 100 miles per week and I don’t see anything on her face to raise concerns about premature ageing. She always looks positively radiant.

That said, if you are serious about running outdoors throughout the year, there are some obvious precautions that can help guard against skin’s number one enemy: sun damage. I have definitely suffered from sun damage to my face over the years, especially while running on holiday in hot countries – without a hat – foolishly and vainly wishing to enhance my tan.


I now wear a factor 50 UVA and UVB sunscreen every day of the year without fail. It is also a tinted moisturiser, so I always slap it on first thing every morning before I head out the door with the twins, so that my skin is always fully protected whenever I may get an opportunity to run during the day ahead.

As well as high-factor suncream, wear a cap and sunglasses when out running. I wear an old baseball cap and a pair of skiing sunglasses that are almost weightless so I barely notice that they are on and I just pop them on top of the cap if the sun is hiding, or I simply want to see my surroundings more keenly.

When I was running recently after heavy snowfall, the sunlight was piercing but I simply had to take the sunglasses off to drink in the extraordinary beauty of the white woods.

The sunglasses prevent you from squinting and frowning in direct sunlight, which, let’s face it, is only going to exacerbate crow’s feet.

People may mistake you for a sleb (especially after you have been running for long enough to have a physique to rival one). Enjoy the attention.

Try to think about what your facial muscles are doing when you run. If you go running in a really bad mood (which is a very good idea by the way), try to consciously relax your face as you may be running with an intense frown or furrowed brow.

Always remember to relax your facial muscles and your eyes throughout your run.

Moisturise. As well as using a very high- factor sunscreen, drink plenty of water which as well as hydrating your bodily organs will also hydrate your skin from the inside out.

Lipbalm – moisturise those lips, ideally with a sunscreen too, as lips can get burnt and sun damaged very easily, not to mention chaffed to bits in the cold.


There is nothing more ageing in my book than an unfit, out-of-condition body or a whingeing adult complaining that no exercise is right for them, and that they don’t have the time, while stuffing their face with chocolate and slagging off others who run, claiming it will make them look old.

What makes your entire body age prematurely and, worse still, what makes you die younger is not taking your health and fitness and weight seriously and insistently maintaining a sedentary lifestyle.

So don’t get side-tracked by such silly pointless vanity.

The benefits regular running brings to the cardiovascular system alone far outweigh any possible potential for a sagging jawline.

No one will notice anyway as they will be staring at your taut butt and incredible legs . . .

The Grit Doctor says: Running will make you far prettier, inside and out, than thinking about running from the sofa ever will.

Tweet your running queries to Ruth at: @gritdoctor

Ruth Field is author of Run, Fat Bitch, Run

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