When England’s best athletes tell you that kit can make all the difference, and as the weather is finally confirming to us that summer is well on its way, we think it’s the perfect time to remind you what a difference choosing the right gear for your run can make.
Charlie Grice, one of the world’s best young distance runners and the current British champion, summarises it perfectly: “Wearing the right kit can make a big difference when it comes to feeling comfortable and performing optimally in the summer.
“It might seem like a small thing, but I’ve worn plenty of different gear in the last few seasons and it can make a big difference. There are weight and breathability to think about, not to mention how it all actually looks!” And when one of the fastest milers in the world tells you that, you know it makes sense.
Jenny Meadows, the international 800-meter runner, and now one of our top coaches, agrees, highlighting that it’s the small things that can make the biggest difference. “Summer is all about putting the finishing touches to a great winter’s training, so I make sure I pay particular attention to the small details - like hydration. Get that wrong and you’ve pretty much wasted all those dark nights training! A decent hydration system is vital.”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the great gear out there right now.
Hydrate for success
Let’s start with what might seem like a small addition to your running kit, the Mi Fit Running water bottle. For just £2.49 you can make a massive difference to how you run. Sports science will confirm just a 2-3% loss in bodyweight while running means you’re becoming dehydrated, which can trigger a drop in blood volume and increase core body temperature, which in turn puts stress on your heart, lungs and circulatory system.
It’s a wise investment, as studies have shown that running speeds over 5km and 10km dropped by 6-7% in runners who were dehydrated (2% body weight loss) compared with full hydration.
How much should you drink? Generally, 400–800ml per hour when running will prevent dehydration as well as over-hydration; drink little and often, say 100-150 ml every 15 minutes, as this results in greater retention and less urination. If you’re running for less than 60-90min, drink water when you feel thirsty.
Move to a faster beat
A great way to get pumped up for your summer routine is to invest in a good set of headphones like the Aftershokz trekz titanium. Listening to music while running is a tried and tested formula that, for a number of reasons, can boost your performance every time you go out. Rhythmic, energetic music will improve your coordination and help you to keep pace while motivating you and boosting your energy. Charlie says: “Listening to music is a massively important part of my warm-up. It helps me relax, focus my mind and generally just get up for the race.”.
Make a note
One of the best parts of fitness is tracking your progress and seeing how far you’ve come. That used to involve writing everything down in a training diary and having your coach evaluate your performance. Now, you can invest in the Fitbit Inspire HR and you’ll have all that information on your wrist.
Today, you can track your speed, distance and heart rate with gear like the Fitbit Charge 3, providing you with instant feedback on any run or training session.
Time to train
This is the perfect time of year to get training, and by that, we mean simply getting out and running some miles. The vast majority of our distance running squads you’ll see competing on television this summer work to a time-worn formula of getting out and seeing the sights. That’s because easy runs strengthen the musculoskeletal system, stimulate growth in the circulatory system to better supply oxygen and fuel to muscles, and increase the ratio of slow-twitch-to-fast-twitch muscle fibres for endurance. With a solid aerobic base, you’ll be better equipped to take on tougher workouts further down the line.
And of course, clothing plays a huge role in all of this. Making sure you’re wearing the right running gear is just as important in the summer as it is in the winter. If you get too hot when you’re running, you’ll slow to a walk, or worse. It’s all about maintaining the perfect body temperature throughout your training.
With that in mind, we’ve highlighted these great breathable pieces of kit for you to help keep you going:
On your feet
Last but not least, making sure you’ve got the right trainers is critical. To help you find the perfect pair, we’ve highlighted some great running shoes currently on the market, such as the Nike Odyssey React Flyknit or the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14.
When you’re thinking about what shoes work for you, take into account the fit, the surface you plan to run on, distance, support, protection, waterproofing and how much the shoe drops from heel to toe. Trail shoes, for example, will offer rock plates and a harder feel, whereas road shoes are the best for cushioning and light breathable uppers. Both have roles to play so keep that in mind when planning out your training.
Visit the England Athletics website for more help and advice on running and keeping fit.
You can also head over to Inside Track for more helpful tips and advice for fitness and nutrition.