With the recent heat wave in Denver, I thought now was as good of a time as any to address hot weather running gear. By the way – I was not expecting to be battling 100 degree heat in Denver! And a “dry” heat doesn’t count when you’re getting cooked alive by the sun that you’re now a mile closer to.
If you’ve recently decided to start running, congratulations and welcome to the beginner runner club! If you’re really starting to get rolling, or are already miserable in your regular t-shirt/old gym shorts, you’re going to want to take your wardrobe up a notch in the heat of late summer (is this considered the dog days yet?). Why? Chafing. Lack of moisture-wicking. No built-in underwear. Yes, that is a thing you will come to desire as a runner.
— Outdoor Beginner (@OutdoorBeginner) July 11, 2014
I am all for using whatever you have sitting in your closet already when you’re first starting out. But once you start, you won’t want to stop, so just go ahead and get sucked into the black hole that is purchasing running/outdoors gear. It’s an affliction that can’t be stopped (“Oh look at these shorts on sale…yeah I have six pairs but I really need seven”). Plus, when it’s this hot, you’re just going to be miserable in regular cotton.
I’ve previously gone over what to put on your feet socks-wise. Traveling upwards, your old gym shorts have got to go once you’ve gotten started, and especially once it gets super hot. I have been holding on to the same pair of Target “athletic” shorts (this was before they actually had an athletic line) that I got in middle school (they were VERY large on me then…), but I quickly realized they were about as comfortable as running in a wool blanket.
Nike Tempo running shorts are a staple in every sorority girl’s wardrobe. Once my boyfriend bought me a pair for Christmas, I also made them a staple in my non-sorority but equally stereotypical white girl closet. Their only short-coming is that they have only one very small waistband pocket (welcome to the world of women’s running clothing). Because girls only carry around one small key and nothing else, right?
Quick disclaimer: I am writing this from rural Vermont, where the motel furnishings are not super modern…I do not actually own that lovely floral-ish bedding, nor am I taking the pictures from my grandmother’s house. Anyways, I love Nike shorts because they have the best built-in underwear, they’re super comfy, and they come in the biggest variety of colors/patterns of any shorts.
Asics Core shorts are my next favorite. They have really nice stretchy boyshort-type underwear inside them, fall a little lower on your legs, and they do offer larger pockets. However, if you put your phone or iPod in the big front pockets, it will bounce around way too much when you run. You can at least carry more things in them when you’re cooling down (especially helpful if you have driven somewhere to run or have a long walk back to your house).
A surprising front runner for good shorts were these GapFit onesthat I got on sale. They were only $20 during Gap’s spring sale, and have turned out to actually be quite nice. They’re very similar to Nike shorts, just a little less high quality. They tend to ride up my legs a bit, but I think that’s mostly because they are the snuggest of all three pairs. If you can spot these on sale again, I’d definitely pick up a pair to add into your rotation, even if they end up being second tier.
I know they look atrocious on the Gap website, but I’m pretty certain that’s just some unfortunate photography. I have the same ones, just with a neon yellow stripe instead of coral.
I’ve talked about my favorite sports bras (spoiler alert, they’re from Target) and all of the other great athletic gear you can get at Target. When it gets seriously hot, though, my go-to is Under Armour’s take on the typical cotton tee.
UA tees are impossibly light, wicks moisture like nothing else I wear, and are what gets me through the hottest days of running, hiking, riding horses, whatever. A testament to how fast it dries – I wore it to a water park on the log flume, and in pictures taken maybe ten minutes after getting completely drenched, I was well on my way to being dry. And if the log flume tidal wave isn’t a scientific measure of true soaking, I don’t know what is.
UnderArmour has a few other t-shirt variations under “HeatGear,” I just prefer the v-neck, although the “v” is deeper in the newer shirts. Guys, your version is here.
Ladies (or gentleman with longer locks), you’re going to need a headband. Ain’t nobody got time for flyaways sticking to your super sweaty face. My go-to headband for hot weather (I wear an ear warmer in the winter months) is the Sweaty Band. You may say, Laura, why on earth would you pay $15 for a headband? Do you think I’m made of money? To that I respond – if you’re running or doing anything outdoors, it’s an investment worth making. Yes, headbands are an investment now. Welcome to being active!
You’ll only need one (unless you’re like me and lose every single Sweaty Band you ever buy…my kill rate is at five) and they blow every other headband out of the water. They do.not.move. It’s actually difficult to get it on/off your head at first. For someone like me with an exceptionally round head and hair that tends to get slippery easily, I couldn’t ask for a better band. They also come in a ton of fun colors (and widths! Fiveheads rejoice!). Find them on Amazon or almost any running/general sporting goods store. Surprisingly, this does not include REI.
July – August is also a great time of year to be buying hot weather gear, since a lot of stores are having summer sales around this time. Always check the clearance racks for some good steals even if there isn’t a specific sale already happening at whatever store you’re shopping at. Find out more ways to save on gear here.
So slap on some sweat-proof sunscreen and get out there! Always stay hydrated (drink when you’re thirsty) and make sure to pace yourself in the dog days of summer – there’s no award for runner that runs until barfing and/or passing out. Most importantly, read this article to get you started on your run journey. You’re officially a runner now, and that means you’re officially awesome!