Per my New Year's resolution, I've started and managed to keep running in 2009. I used to run cross country and track in high school, about 10 years ago, but now I've noticed one big change — my face gets beet red when I run. It looks like a red mask. The redness stays just on my face and doesn't go down my neck or up into my scalp. Do you have any idea what is going on? Is there something I can do to prevent this or is it no big deal? Thanks in advance for your advice and help!
— Red Faced Runner
Having a pink flush to your face is a tell-tale sign that you've been working out, but it sounds like your skin flushes to a hue beyond pink. To see what's going on with your skin,
When you work out, your body produces heat. One way that your body ensures it doesn't overheat is by sweating, of course. But your body also increases blood circulation to the skin's surfaces, so the heat can be radiated off — smart body. Warm, oxygenated blood rushes to your face, turning it that bright red color. It's receiving lots of healthy blood, bringing nutrients to your skin and carrying away toxins. In medical speak, this phenomenon is known as vasodilation. Drinking an adequate amount of water before and during exercise may help reduce the redness by ensuring you're hydrated enough to sweat to properly cool yourself down.
Your face turning red is really no big deal unless you are also experiencing dizziness, fatigue, or nausea, which indicate that you may be in danger of becoming overheated. If that's the case, stop exercising immediately and get out of the sun if you are running outside. Be sure to drink plenty of cool water, too.