*The past few days have been ridiculously humid in Toronto - I went for a 4.5km run in what felt like 50-degree weather and ended up looking like I walked out of a shower with my clothes on! While I love a good sweat, this was just gross!!!*
With the potential for our bodies to be over-heating and leaking puddles of sweat from every pore, it's important that we dress appropriately to keep ourselves cool and protected from the sun's harmful rays. Here are a few tips on choosing the right clothing that I picked up from my Running Room Half Marathon Clinic:
- No cotton!!! While cotton is a great absorber of sweat and moisture, it does not have a release mechanism. That means the sweat will absorb into your clothes, but cant escape, leaving you with soaking wet, heavy clothing which will eventually lead to chaffing. Instead, choose a synthetic fiber that is wet-to-dry. Most athletic shirts will be labeled with "Dri-Fit", "Cool Max" or something similar (made of polyester or nylon), to indicate it's drying capabilities. A fiber like this will absorb the sweat from the body, then move it to the outside of the shirt where it can be evaporated leaving you with lighter, dryer clothing and significantly reducing the chances of chaffing.
- Find a proper bra: For high intensity activities like running or playing sports, a good bra is absolutely essential! If our ladies are not supported properly, the excessive bouncing can cause serious tissue tears along the sides of our chests. I've never experienced this, but can only imagine how painful that would be! Better to be safe and keep them as steady as possible by investing a good, supportive bra. I would ask an employee of your local sporting wear store to help you with this - they are specialists and know exactly what bra is right for what activity and for your body.
- Colours: It is said that light coloured clothing absorbs less light and keeps you cooler than darker coloured clothing. I can't say I've experienced a difference by wearing light colours, but in theory this makes sense...so I imagine one would notice the difference over a long period of time.
- Socks are important too! The type of sock you choose impacts any blistering on your feet. In the summer heat, the no-cotton rule applies for socks as well - cotton will only absorb the moisture, leaving you with soaking wet feet that will rub against your soles and cause blisters. There are tons of "running" socks out there that are made to help direct the moisture out of the material. I just bought two pairs of Ironman Lightening Pro socks from WigWam (available at the Running Room) to get me through my half marathon training!
- Choose the right shoes: I wrote a post a little while ago on choosing the right shoes for running (read it here). I highly recommend going to a specialty store to have your gait analyzed so you can find the right shoe for your foot type. In the summer months, try to find shoes that are breathable with air flow - this will help with the evaporation of excess moisture.
- Fuel/Water Belts: No matter what activity you are engaging in, I highly recommend investing in a water belt. This is a belt that goes around your waist and can typically hold 4 small bottles of water (or sports/electrolyte drinks) without any stress on your body. It frees up your hands and ensures you have fluids with you at all times. Especially in the summer, it is essential that you sip on water at least every 10 minutes during intense outdoor activity. Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink - by then you are already dehydrated! These belts also usually come with a small pouch that is handy for holding keys, a cell phone or an iPod! I felt a little nerdy the first few times I wore mine, but after seeing the benefits of having water handy, I will not go for a run without it!
Collecting all of this appropriate clothing to prepare you for outdoor workouts can be quite the investment! That's why you should do everything you can to preserve your clothing for as long as possible! Here are a few more tips I picked up last week:
- Dry before washing: Let's face it, sweat smells! There's nothing worse than washing your workout clothes only to find that the stinky sweat smell is still in them! To avoid this problem, be sure to let your clothes fully dry before throwing them in the hamper. If they remain wet and are folded up for a few days, bacteria is bound to form, causing the odor to stay for a longer period of time. I personally either spread the clothing out on the floor until it's dry, or hang them on a banister...only when they are dry do I toss them in the hamper!
- No Fabric Softener! When washing your synthetic-material workout clothes, NEVER use fabric softener! Fabric Softener tends to clog up the tiny airholes in the clothing, which prevents the moisture from being absorbed...then you're left with a heavy, wet shirt that may as well be cotton.
- Hang to Dry: Tossing your running clothes in the dryer is not a crime...but it does create a lot of pressure on the fibers of the clothing, making them wear out faster. To avoid this, hang your workout clothes to dry. I personally throw it all in the dryer (otherwise I'd have clothes hanging all over the house!), but I know that means my gear wont last as long. That's okay - it gives me an excuse to go shopping :)
Sweat hard :)