The Best Summer Running Gear to Crush Miles

While I am a year-round runner, there is something special about summer running.  Late summer and fall are peak racing seasons for runners, meaning that early summer is the perfect opportunity to train. During the summer months, there are numerous pop-up races, group training opportunities, and chances to jump into Lake Michigan after a steamy sweat session. 

Though I reflect on summer running with joy during the colder months, I tend to forget how brutal it can be. In Chicago, the summers tend to get hot and humid in the blink of an eye. Not to worry, I’ve learned just how much the proper gear can support my runs, and I can help you learn too. Here’s what summer running gear to grab for your warm weather miles.

best summer running gear

Best summer running clothes

Our clothes can be our best friend or our worst enemy on a hot, humid run. I recommend wearing light weight, sweat-wicking clothing in lighter colors. When choosing your clothing, do not forget about your socks. Try to use socks that are made of acrylic or polyester instead of cotton to prevent blisters. Some of my favorite running attire is linked below:

  • Sports bra: I am all about functional running attire. This sports bra from Oiselle includes a pocket to store your phone, keys, or credit card. It is useful if you want to be hands free and not worry about a second top layer. 
  • Tops: I prefer a running top that is breathing as well as I am. I love the stop-watch singlet from Saucony because it’s made of ventilated material and is light weight. If you want to treat yourself, this Bowerman Track Club singlet is the perfect choice.
  • Bottoms: I tend to stick to shorts during the summer months because tights feel restrictive. If you prefer a tighter short, I recommend Senita Rio shorts. These affordable shorts have numerous pockets and come in a variety of lengths to meet the needs of every runner. If you are feeling speedy, I recommend these Nike Aeroswift shorts. The high split and pleated back allow for optimal air flow and running speed.
  • Socks: My all-time favorite running socks are Balega ultralight socks. These socks have structure that make your feet feel supported and are made of materials that keep blisters at bay. As an added bonus, they come in a wide variety of fun colors. 

Best summer running hats and visors

Now that you have outfitted your body, make sure you have the proper headgear. Not only will the right hat and sunglasses make you look like a pro, they will also protect your skin from the elements. Here are some of my favorite hats, headbands, and sunglasses:

  • Hats and visors: Wearing a hat or visor during the summer can help protect your face from intense UV rays or rain drops on a rainy day. My favorite running hat is the Ciele GOCap. The lightweight material keeps my head cool while the structure of the cap keeps it safely atop my head. If your head gets too hot with a traditional hat, I recommend wearing a visor like this one from Adidas.
  • Headbands: If a hat is not for you, headbands can keep sweat and loose hair off your face.  This lululemon headband is built to stay in place and keep sweat away.
  • Sunglasses: Eye protection is super important for summer running. Just as UV-rays can affect our skin, they can affect the cornea, lens, and retina in our eyes. My favorite sunglasses for running are the Goodr Circle Gs. They are designed to stay in place, are affordable, and are polarized. A win-win-win if you ask me.

Best hydration packs for running

I cannot talk about summer running without talking about hydration. One of the most common challenges of summer running is maintaining proper hydration. While there are ways to plan your run around water fountains or convenience stores, you can also carry your hydration. 

  • Running vest: If you are logging miles in a rural or desolate area, you may want to wear a running vest. Most running vests have space for two water bottles and a bladder which allows for ample hydration. I have this running vest and I am obsessed. Even when packed full, I do not notice significant weight. 
  • Running belt: If you want to carry hydration, but do not want to wear a full vest, you can also get a running belt. Belts carry less water, but are also lighter weight. This SPI belt  is known for staying put on your waist and carrying just what you need.
  • Handheld water bottle: Perhaps both the running vest and belt feel too bulky for you. I still recommend carrying some hydration. This handheld bottle can hold up to 20oz of water and has a small compartment to stow away keys or a credit card.  

Skincare for summer running

Last, but not least, it is important that we use products to protect our skin while running. The most common skin ailments that runners tend to experience are sun burns and chafing – both of which are deeply uncomfortable. To protect your skin, take a look at the following products:

  • Body sunscreen: I tend to prefer spray sunscreen for my body when going out for a run. It tends to be easier and faster to apply. This spray sunscreen from Neutrogena is a perfect match.
  • Face sunscreen: While I go for what is easy when applying sunscreen to my body, I am a bit more particular when it comes to my face. This sunscreen from Supergoop! is a face stick, which makes it easy to apply and to carry if needed. 
  • Chafe balm: If you have ever experienced chafing on a run, you know just how uncomfortable it can be. Thankfully, three are many products that can help prevent chafing. I am partial to Body Glide, but you can also use something like Vaseline in a pinch.

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About Sarah Kelly

Sarah Kelly is a licensed social worker and certified alcohol and drug counselor. Sarah received her MSW from Loyola University and Chicago and currently works as an individual and group therapist for Clarity Clinic Chicago with an emphasis in addiction and trauma work. While Sarah believes that therapy is a significant and often necessary tool to foster personal and community wellness, Sarah believes in caring for the whole person and whole community. Sarah works towards this value by engaging in Chicago’s running and yoga communities, tapping into several book clubs and indulging in the bachelor. Sarah hopes to support you in the process in discovering what brings you value in yourself and your community.

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