Check your tags — fabrics for summer runners

We’ve talked before about how to run smart as the temperature rises and ways to stay hydrated throughout the day.  Now that the Canada Day / Independence Day BBQ season has arrived, we’re once again reminded that it can get really, really hot out there — and that running effectively and safely requires being smart and thinking ahead.

We definitely recommend clicking through those links above for some basics of summertime running, but there’s another opportunity to improve your hot-weather running performance hiding right under your nose (or, more accurately, just behind your back).

We’re talking about your clothing tags, particularly on shirts, which will cover most of your surface area.  For a lot of people, cotton is the go-to fabric for both casual and workout gear in the summer.  If you’re not planning to sweat a lot and can wear something loose-fitting that allows your skin to breathe quite a bit, this might be fine.  But cotton is the last thing you want hugging your body when you’re doing longer endurance work (or just generating a lot of sweat).

It might seem like wearing a drenched shirt darkened from neck to navel in sweat should be a badge of fitness honor, but in reality that’s just a heavy layer of perspiration that isn’t allowing your body to cool itself effectively.  Synthetic materials — such as polyester, nylon, or spandex — will help wick away sweat and allow it to evaporate into the air, which is precisely how your body’s cooling system is supposed to work.  Putting a layer of spongy, sweat-absorbing cotton between you and the outside air makes things a heck of a lot less efficient.

So if you want to run as cooly as possible as the temperature rises (and perform better as a result) take a look at those tags tickling the back of your neck.  Making some strategic adjustments to your running wardrobe can made a huge difference this summer.

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