What you wear when training in the summer sun can directly impact your performance. Wear the wrong gear and you could overheat, fatigue prematurely and benefit less from your workout. It takes more to stay cool and prevent overheating, however, than cutting off the sleeves of an old T-shirt.
Consider these four crucial factors when building your summer training wardrobe.
What type of fabric is it?
Clothes that wick sweat and allow your skin to breathe help you stay cool. Your favorite old soft cotton shirt is really comfortable when it's dry, but doesn't cut it when you train. Instead of wicking sweat, it gets soaked and clings to your body, weighing you down—definitely not what you need when doing speed work. Plus, cotton is less effective at blocking harmful UV rays from the sun.
Moisture-wicking apparel pulls the sweat off your body so you stay cool and dry. Under Armour's HeatGear Fitted Shortsleeve [$30, underarmour.com] is made with ultra soft fabric for comfort, but it wicks away moisture and features built-in anti-microbial technology to dispel bacteria-causing odors.
Nike's Dri-Fit Vapor Woven Short [$45, nike.com] also gets the summer training job done. Made largely of polyester, it removes sweat, lets skin breathe better and helps deflect radiation. An internal drawstring cord allows for a custom fit.
How tightly woven is it?
Tightly-woven means less space between strands of the material's fibers. The benefit: reduced risk of sunburn, because the fabric blocks UV rays from passing through, while still allowing your skin to breathe by wicking away moisture.
Reebok's Training Day ZigTech Short [$35, reebok.com] is made with Celliant fibers, a technology that recycles energy in the body so it can work more effectively. The technology has been clinically proven to increase blood flow and oxygen levels. McDavid's 710 Compression Shorts [$25, mcdavidusa.com], which can be layered underneath, keeps you dry, prevents chaffing and helps reduce muscle soreness for faster recovery.
What color is it?
Lighter colors might feel cooler when you're in the heat, but they don't block the sun as well as darker colors. However, you don't have to train head-to-toe in black and end up sweltering halfway through your workout. A happy medium: mid-range colors like green or blue, which increase sun protection without raising the temperature as much as darker colors.
adidas' CLIMASpeed Short [$35, shopadidas.com] is constructed with flatlock stitching, which minimize chaffing. Puma's Running Cat Tee [$32, puma.com] has built-in moisture management, reflective logos for visibility and comfortable stitching so the fabric doesn't rub against your body.
What's its UPF?
"UPF" means ultraviolet protective factor, a rating system for sun protective apparel—analogous to SPF on sunscreen. If you see UPF on a label, the gear has been treated with a chemical sunblock to screen out harmful UV rays. High UPF numbers indicate a greater level of protection.
If you're suiting up for a training run, Mizuno's Nirvana Sleeveless Tee [$36, mizunousa.com] wicks away sweat, has a UPF of 25, and incorporates reflective accents for visibility during early morning or late evening. GoLite Mesa Trail Shorts [$42.50, golite.com] rock a UPF 50+. They also feature reflective properties and are made of lightweight material that keeps you dry.
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