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The best kit to keep you cool and fast this summer

April 06 2022 6 min read

Thanks to “Furnace Friday” and the year’s amazing long hot summer, it’s more important than ever to think about what you’re wearing while exercising in the summer heat.

We all understand the importance of hydration. According to the NHS, the average water intake in climates such as the UK should be about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) per day to prevent dehydration.

But what exactly does sweating and losing water mean for runners? The bad news is that losing just 2 per cent your body weight thanks to dehydration equates to a massive loss in running form. Research says running causes up to a twenty-fold increase in the body’s heat production.

Basically, cool is good when it comes to running fast — which is why choosing the right kit is so important.

Of course, new clothes always look good and make you feel more confident but with today’s sweat-wicking, breathable fabrics, a new kit can also help you maintain a healthy body temperature. For instance, if you’ve got a half marathon coming up, something like Nike’s Dri Fit Medallist top is great, as it wicks sweat as you move.  

Sweat is good — overheating isn’t

The human perspiration system is the main reason we are some of the best endurance runners in the animal kingdom. If you've ever stopped on a run and realised the sweat has started to drip into your eyes, you're appreciating how it works: the wind evaporates the perspiration, providing the cooling effect, and this happens more when you're moving.

When it comes to buying your summer running wardrobe, you should think about effective cooling while you move. Choose a shirt like the New Balance Graphic tech tee for just that.

England international athlete Laura Weightman (who has won a variety of different medals, including silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and bronze at the 2018 European Championships) says:

“Summer is one of my favourite times of the year. I love being able to run in a pair of black Nike pro shorts and a cool patterned Nike crop top.

“I love bright colours and patterned crop tops. Part of feeling good is looking good! 

“But when it is hot in the summer it is important to have some comfortable lightweight breathable kit, this makes training much more comfortable.”

Something like Nike’s Miler Just Do It tank top fits the bill or these great trousers.

There’s actually some interesting science that backs up Laura’s love of dark clothing. Wearing black can be better in certain conditions when the winds are over 7 mph and black fabrics absorb the heat that comes off your body rather than reflecting it back at you.

And never go for cotton. That retains all your sweat and very quickly you’ll overheat, rather like wrapping your car’s engine in a blanket. Instead think technical, breathable fabrics, for everything you wear such as the Nike Impact bra.

Whatever colour you go for, the main thing to remember is to keep it light and loose which is where we come in. We’ve devised a great selection for you to think about depending on the distance you choose to run. 

For instance, if you’re looking for a fast 5km, you might like to look at the New Balance Accelerator short sleeve tee and these great New Balance Accelerate 7-inch shorts.

Don’t forget your shoes

If you want to run faster, you’ll need to keep your feet cool and dry. Light, breathable shoes that are nice and responsive are hugely important for summer running, helping you achieve those personal bests.

Shoes like the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus, are great for a fast 10km or if 5km is your thing then take a look at New Balance’s M420.

For the half marathon, the Asics Gel Glorify does the job well, preventing you from those race-killing blisters.

What to look for

And to help you make that all-important decision we’ve looked at all the key areas you need to think about when buying summer kit.

Weave/wicking — The speed with which moisture is moved from the skin is influenced by the fabric’s yarn weave (right of loose) and the pressure of the garments; tighter fabrics will force moisture through, with others rely solely on permeability.

Ventilation — In jackets in particular, look for in-built areas that allow you to control just how much heat can be released - zips on the side, or in the chest.

Weight — Lighter is better throughout the summer for obvious reasons!

Fit — Looser t-shirts will allow more air to circulate; great for training on hot days. 

SPF — Looking for clothing with sun protection built in. Many offer protection factors of up to 50.

Here’s a round-up of all our favourite products:

Nike Cool Miler Short-sleeve Top

Nike Challenger 5-inch Shorts

New Balance Accelerate Capri

Shock Absorber Women’s Sports Bra

Nike Impact Bra

Nike 10k Dry Running Shorts