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Published: Sunday, June 17, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Summer runs: What you need to stay comfortable

  • Running gear -- The perfect tank, a pair of good running shoes, a water bottle, sunscreen and energy gels.

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald

    Running gear -- The perfect tank, a pair of good running shoes, a water bottle, sunscreen and energy gels.

It's often said that summer doesn't start in the Puget Sound region until July 5. If that's true, you've got a few more weeks to get ready for summer running.
Here are some tried and true summer essentials to have before you set off down the pavement:

Water bottles
It has happened to most runners. You push yourself to go a little farther than planned. Maybe you start less hydrated than you should or the weather heats up quicker than you expected. No matter the cause: you've got many miles to go and no water to drink.
Carry your water with you next time. Nathan Sports makes both handheld and belted options. I can't stand having something around my waist and prefer the small QuickShot variety that holds 10 ounces. But many runners prefer the hands-free approach and extra capacity the belted option offers.
Nathan Sports water bottles can be found at local sporting goods stores as well as Fred Meyer. Handheld bottles cost $12 to $19; belt $30 to $60.

The rule of thumb: if you're going to run over an hour, use a nutritional supplement like a gel. When the temperature rises -- especially if you're not used to the heat -- consider using one before you run, even if you're going only going for 45 minutes. The second rule to remember: find a gel that works and stick to with it. And never, ever try a new gel on race day unless you're willing to tempt your digestive fate.
My favorite: Honey Stinger Gold, which sells for a buck and change per gel. Other popular gels include Clif, Hammer, Gu and PowerBar.

The perfect tank
For much of the year around here, you can run in a long-sleeve shirt, especially on early morning runs. Summer's warmer temperatures, however, give us the chance to leave that long-sleeve at home (or tie it around your waist if you can't break the habit).
The perfect tank for running in warm weather should feel like wearing nothing at all. It shouldn't add heat and it definitely shouldn't trap in moisture. REI isn't known necessarily for its running gear, but its Fleet Tank beats most major brands' offerings in my book. It doesn't chafe, is lightweight and loose-fitting, which is great for the heat. The soft fabric also protects your skin from sun with a UPF rating of 50.
REI carries a short-sleeve version as well. Tanks (women's only): $26.50; T-shirts (men's and women's): $29.50.

With frequently grey skies here, it's easy to think you don't need sunscreen when heading out for a run. Even under the cover of clouds, the sun can cast down harmful rays. So don't forget to slather on the sunscreen.
The important points to remember: apply 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside; use a sunscreen that's water or sweatproof so it stays on long into your run.
Best bets: Neutrogena DryTouch variety or Coppertone Sport.

Set your feet free
I picked up my first pair of Brooks PureConnect shoes at an REI garage sale, thinking these lightweight -- 6.5 ounces -- shoes could be good for short summer runs. Although barefoot and minimalist shoes like these are popular, I doubted I'd be comfortable in a pair for long runs.
My PureConnect shoes were comfortable from the first moment I put them on. All other running shoes feel like running with bricks strapped on my feet compared to these. A step above barefoot shoes, this Brooks line has just enough cushioning to keep my feet from being sore after double-digit runs but not so much that my feet feel heavy or overly constrained.
Runner's World named these the "Best Debut" of a new shoe late last year. And when I bought my second pair at a local running store, I was told the store has a tough time keeping these in stock. The one drawback of these shoes is they only last about 250 to 300 miles, compared to roughly 600 for typical running shoes.
Brooks PureConnect shoes: $90.
Story tags » RunningFitness

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