The Ultimate Summer Running Buying Guide
British summer might not always give us the heatwave we're after, but the warmer weather can still affect our running and with race season upon us, having the right summer gear can make the difference between a good run and beating your PB.
Even though running in the heat can feel like hard work, negatively impacting our pace by up to 3% every 5°C, the payoff is worth it. Just 10 days running in hot weather can increase your performance by 5% while the University of Oregon found that heat benefits runner's training, so much so in some cases it rivals altitude training.
With tips from the best gear to hydration our summer running guide has everything you need to keep cool in the heat to perform at your best.
Your shoes are your most important piece of kit, and that's no less true in summer than winter. Instead of worrying about Gore-TEX linings or how to keep your toes warm suddenly you find yourself trying to keep your feet cool.
Luckily, hot feet are not uncommon, especially when running in warmer weather, so with the right trainers you'll be running comfortably and blister-free.
Make sure your running shoes are made from breathable fabrics, with mesh vents on the upper to boost airflow to cool your feet and prevent overheating.
Well-fitting trainers will go a long way to preventing blisters, so make sure you choose the best running shoes for you. Get your free gait analysis at your local Runners Need store. Using video technology to analyse how your feet respond to every step, our expert fitters can assess your biomechanics and running style to ensure you're running in the perfect trainers.
Be aware of overheating in barefoot running shoes. With less materials between your foot and the ground your feet will absorb the heat from the hot pavement. Take extra water to cool your feet down as you run.
Hot and sweaty feet usually mean blisters as the moisture in your shoe causes friction. While breathable trainers are vital, wearing the appropriate socks will reduce your risk of soreness and rubbing.
Invest in a good pair of technical run socks to keep your feet cool and wick the moisture away from your skin. Features to look out for are technical and sweat-wicking fabrics, mesh ventilation under your arch, as well as flat seams and a snug fit.
- When it comes to running clothing always select sweat-wicking, quick drying, and breathable gear to help keep you cool and running comfortably.
- Look for mesh ventilation panels for airflow, seamless construction to avoid nasty rubbing, and UV protection to shield your skin from the sun's harmful rays.
- Steer clear of anything cotton; not only does it trap the heat but it soaks up sweat keeping the moisture against your skin increasing your chance of chafing.
- Avoid dark clothing as dark colours absorb the sun's heat. Light colours such as white reflect light and heat keeping you cooler.
- Although it sounds counterintuitive look for wool layers that are designed to keep you cooler. Wool is naturally sweat-wicking and quick-drying. It's also naturally antibacterial so perfect for running on those hotter days.
- Similarly, long-sleeved base layers designed for colder winter days are great for summer running. Although we immediately think of short sleeves or vests to keep cool, tight long-sleeved layers that wick away moisture will keep you cool and have the added advantage of shielding your skin from the burning sun.
- Sometimes light rain is welcome on a hot summer's run to keep you cool, but wet fabrics can quickly become uncomfortable. If the clouds are coming in, try a water-resistant yet breathable jacket to keep rain out without trapping sweat in.
- Your underwear on a hot summers run can make all the difference, and we're not just talking bras, this goes for men too.
- Avoid cotton unless you want to truly understand the meaning of not being able to sit down for a few days.
- Ladies, when choosing your perfect sports bra look for added mesh ventilation to keep cool.
- If you're worried about thigh chafing, go for a 2-in-1 short with a tight inner short and a looser layer over the top for extra coverage.
- Good running shorts will have either a mesh liner or built in underwear.
- If shorts aren't your thing, then full length or 3/4 length running tights can help keep you cool, giving your performance a boost too. Go for quick-drying and breathable fabrics, with lots of stretch to ensure they move with you.
- Staying hydrated on a hot summer's run is vital, especially if you're heading out on a long run.
- From handheld water bottles to hydration belts that sit comfortably around your waist to hydration bladders there's no excuse for not taking water with you.
- All ergonomically designed these products are perfect whatever your distance.
To help maintain proper hydration and balanced electrolyte levels during, and after your run, drinking diluted sports drinks or using hydration tablets will provide your body with the best combination of electrolyte replacement and rehydration to stay cool, and run easy.
- A good cap or visor will keep the sun (and rain) off your face, the sweat out your eyes, and help prevent heat related problems like heatstroke and severe dehydration. Look out for loose-fitting, mesh panels at the back.
- Protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays is vital whether you're out for a short run or a marathon. Ensure your sun cream or sun block protects against UVA and UVB rays as well as a high SPF.
- It also needs to be waterproof, and ideally windproof. Sweating off your sun cream is not only likely to give you stinging and watering eyes but it doesn't do your skin much good. Sport sunscreens usually contain zinc oxide to provide extra protection regardless of how much you sweat.
- Don't forget to apply it to your lips too.
- Like your sun cream your sunglasses need UV protection.
- Go for sunglasses with grip on the nose to ensure they don't slide down your face.
- Don't let hayfever get in the way of enjoying your run.
- If you suddenly find yourself struggling more than usual mid-run, it could be hayfever hitting hard. Hayfever can affect your breathing, both from your chest and through your nose, impacting on your cardiovascular performance. When your immune system is working overtime your body is often more tired and your concentration can be lacking.
- If you're a sufferer stay away from areas of high air pollution and high vegetation like parks and trails.
- Running dehydration is not only hard work, it's dangerous too. Even if you're out on a short run it's important to think ahead to stay hydrated.
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