Running is a great way to stay in shape because it's simple and doesn't require much set up. That said, in intense summer heat it can be hard to find the motivation to go outside when you're worried about burning out and become drenched in sweat. Appropriate clothing for summer running is key to combatting this. With light clothing and accessories to carry water, you will find yourself a lot more comfortable when out in the sun.
Count The Cost
At first glance, it might appear that ‘technical’ running clothes, those made from the latest and greatest modern materials, and with specialist designs, are too expensive. This applies to almost all sports clothes – everything from the socks upwards. Certainly, this type of clothing is considerably more expensive than the basic shorts and tops available from high-street shops or discount stores.
However, bear in mind the long-term outlay you’re likely to make on your running clothes. Cheap apparel will usually wear out far more quickly than the costlier gear. A cheap t-shirt will be unwearable within a few months, whereas a quality running top will last you many years.
In addition to its short life span, cheaper clothing is inadvisable because of the material used. This type of clothing is unlikely to either wick away moisture and/or feature breathable materials, which can make the running experience uncomfortable at best – and pretty much unbearable at worst.
Wicking is the ability of a fabric to draw moisture (sweat) away from the skin. Unlike cotton – which can absorb more than seven per cent of its weight in water – modern sports fabrics employ a range of techniques, most notably one called ‘capillary pressure’, to keep the skin dry.
Working hand-in-hand with wicking, breathability is a material’s capacity to help regulate body temperature. Simply think of it as a one-way system that allows sweaty moisture out but does not allow cold air in.
Never wear cotton.
Check for wicking and breathability.
Choose light colours for sunny days.
Look for UV protection.
Select high-visibility and reflective panels for safety.
Buy cheap – buy twice.
Running on a bright summer day can bring an unrivalled sense of wellbeing, but if your running clothes are not up to the job, that sense of joy will be short-lived. Most runners buy their clothing with dry, sunny conditions in mind – only later becoming more adventurous with midwinter runs – so most clothing is suitable for summer weather.
T-shirts And Shorts
T-shirts and tops designed for summer running tend to be brighter and more colourful, but it is crucial to balance the head and the heart when choosing the right kit. Always check that the material used in the T-shirt or top offers the best possible wicking and breathability. Remember too that a slightly looser fit (not baggy) will help you keep cool.
Buy slightly looser-fitting shorts for summer running, too. These will help air circulate and prevent sweating and chafing. However, do not be tempted by very short shorts – the more leg on show, the greater the risk of sunburn.
Both shorts and tops should incorporate some sun shield within the material, so look for fabrics that offer both UVA and UVB protection. These are the long- and short-wave rays that lead to sunburn and the risk of skin cancers.
Beware The Sun!
Summer running should be all about keeping it simple, so don’t load yourself up with all manner of extra kit and sportswear. Shorts, shoes, socks and a t-shirt are plenty – but running in high temperatures on sunny days without a hat can be disastrous.
Personal preference will play a big part in your hat selection, but always remember that a hat should serve two purposes on summer runs: protecting your head from the sun and keeping the sun out of your eyes. Poker-player style visors will block out the glare, but will do nothing to protect the top of your head. Instead, look for baseball-style caps, preferably with UVA/UVB protection material. Check the length of the peak – too short and it will be pointless, too long and it may bounce annoyingly with every stride. Mesh venting on the sides will help you keep a cool head.
Cooling Your Feet
Your feet are far more likely to sweat and swell up during a hot, summer run, and this increases the chances of developing blisters. Every care should be taken to keep your feet as cool and comfortable as possible. Running socks designed especially for summer training are usually shorter and have less padding, as well as having the best wicking to ensure that sweat is kept away from the skin.
This post is based on an extract from our bestselling book, Running by Justin Bowyer (ISBN: 9780857753892) – where you can find more expert advice on running, whatever your needs and requirements are. Have a look on amazon by clicking here.