I had to learn this the hard way. After each Ironman I’d be picking race tattoo residue out of my arm and leg hairs for a week or more. It kind of hurt.
But then I decided I’d shave my legs and avoid this altogether.
The first time I did this I was in a Danang, Vietnam hotel room and I only shaved right where the tattoo would go. It looked weird, but worked.
But did it make me faster? I don’t know.
But in triathlon it’s all about being aero, and some cyclists have claimed those hairy surfaces slow you down. So if it did make me faster, cool, I’ll take the speed.
But then I noticed it made a lot of sense, as I had been going to the physiotherapist to treat a plantar fascia injury, and this preventive massage had proven to be very helpful.
And when the physio cranked his thumbs down into my calves and thighs, it suddenly didn’t hurt as much.
Well, yeah, it hurt the way it was supposed to, but the he wasn’t ripping clumps of hair out of my groin anymore. That was nice.
They also say that if you crash it’s tricky to pick the gravel and sand out of a hairy mess of blood and flesh, so just shave. I’ve been very lucky to not have a crash this severe, but if I do, the doctor can thank me.
Finally, I shave my face – I have no idea if that makes me more aero or not, but again, I’ll take it.
Adding to the argument to shaving, I have an anecdotal reason to shave, sent to me by a newsletter subscriber, Markus:
“I shaved my legs and chest (because I got tired of the kinetic tape from my physio on my hairy body).”
“Nice side effect- it shaved off 30 seconds off my 1k PB in the swim (and first time below 15’)!”