The British summer is almost upon us. Honest.
Some runners truly flourish in warmer weather. Others struggle to maintain momentum and wilt like Nosferatu on the business end of a maiden’s open bedroom curtain. If you can keep your summer running consistent and sensible, it’ll pay dividends when cooler weather returns.
We don’t have any magical ‘hacks’ but we can offer some tips to make summer running a bit more bearable.
We will never stop banging on about hydration, whatever the time of year. Hydration is key and constant for everyone, not just active people, and even more so in the summer. If you are suitably hydrated there should be no need to carry water with you on shorter runs. If you’re going long we recommend finding a way to stay topped up on the move.
Dehydration can leave you dizzy, make it difficult to make decisions (affecting your safety) and prolong your recovery time. It’s useful to know that if you become thirsty while running, you’re already dehydrated.
Sun screen: There are lots of great sports specific sun screens available. Look for broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and a high SPF, especially if your run might have you in places with little or no cover. Sweat resistance is essential; you don’t want melty sun cream running down your face and stinging your eyes. Non- greasy formulas will be more comfortable and if a product is approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation: thumbs up.
Time it right: Only mad dogs and English men train in the midday sun. By simply changing the time of your run you can avoid the worst of the heat. It might seem like a chore to head out on an early morning run but making it routine it has a host of benefits. Cooler temperatures, quieter streets, starting the day with an endorphin boost and general all-round feeling of accomplishment (or smugness) that you’ve got your workout nailed before most people have eaten breakfast.
Evening runs can also do the trick but if you know that it takes you a long time to come down from your run, an early start may suit you better.
Cap: Aside from keeping the sun out of your eyes, a cap offers some protection to your noggin from the heat. A decent running cap will be lightweight, have a moisture-wicking band to soak up sweat and mesh ventilation areas to allow heat to escape. Some caps will also be made from fabrics that offer UV protection.
Vest / shorts: Dear reader, the writer of this article once ran in a 10k race in mid-July. I was a little sensitive about wearing shorts and vest so I wore a pair of capris and a short sleeved top. It was already 27° at 9:00am and the race director politely told me and those dressed similarly that we were going to regret it. He was correct. The race was a complete suffer-fest. I over-heated to the point that, afterward, I was delirious and unable to find my way out of Regents Park. Since that day I have tucked away the fear that people what I wear while running. I happily wear the lightest clothing options I can find for summer running and urge you to do the same.
The range of technical fabrics on offer in this day and age is pretty fab. Some helpful words to look for when choosing summer running gear are: lightweight, breathable fast-drying and sweat-wicking. If you wear a backpack while running look for options that have wide fabric on the shoulders to help prevent rubbing.
Sweatbands: Sweatbands are not just the vestige of 1980s tennis players, they are also a cheap and cheerful sweat management option. The bands are often made of Terry fabric which is very soft and absorbent. You can either go full McEnroe with a headband to prevent moisture from running into your eyes, or opt for a wristband instead so you can still comfortably wear a cap and dab at any errant trickles.
Barrier cream: Whether or not you’re usually prone to chafing, heat swollen bodies and increased sweat production is a recipe for discomfort. Barrier creams won’t soak into your clothes like petroleum jelly, or melt away when they come into contact with moisture. The cream forms a smooth extra layer that reduces the friction between your skin and fabric.
Summer Running: Team Favourites:
David P: I love my Ciele GoCap for summer running. The peak offers UPF 40 protection and the dome is made from COOLwick™ fabric, which is great in the heat as it dries really quickly. It’s also very lightweight so you can forget you’re wearing it.
Steve: In the summer the amount you sweat is inevitably going to increase. It’s important to take on plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you drink too much water without taking on some electrolytes, including sodium, you could risk falling ill with hyponatremia. The symptoms of hyponatremia include a decreased ability to think, headaches, nausea, poor balance, confusion, seizures and coma.
The first time I used the SIS electrolyte tablets was when I took part in Race to the Stones 100km. I added a SIS GO Hydro tablet to one of my 500ml water flasks which I topped every at the aid stations. This helped me to ensure my sodium levels were good. I’ve found that some products don’t taste great but I was pleasantly surprised with the GO Hydro tabs. The lemon flavour is quite refreshing.
Mary: I enjoy running in the Under Armour Launch Tulip shorts. The loose fit allows air to circulate around your legs. The fabric is lovely and stretchy and doesn’t stick to you when you sweat.
James: I love my Asics Essentials Running Singlet for training during the summer. It’s very light and the MotionDry fabric does a great job of wicking away sweat quickly.
We appreciate that summer in the UK doesn’t last very long. Our guide to running in the rain should help for the rest of the year.