With the summer heat in full effect, staying fit can be a challenge. As the mercury rises to near-record levels here at our Cool Hunting HQ in New York, and London endures a rare heat wave across the pond, we sought the best products for lacing up our trainers in spite of the heat. Safety, hydration and motivation are the keys to getting the most out of your runs in the warmer months. Of course, always check with your physician before starting a new exercise program.
The 3-Sum by Altra Zero Drop Footwear
A relative newcomer, Utah-based Altra offers two major features to make runs easier on the legs and more comfortable for your feet. The company's Zero Drop design refers to the consistent thickness of cushion in the sole, meaning the heel and forefoot are the same distance from the ground. Those who favor the forefoot-striking running style of a neutral shoe will find the same mechanics with slightly more cushioning—a welcome addition for hard surfaces in the city and those longer training runs. Meanwhile, a foot-shaped toe-box (think wider in the area around ball of the foot) allows toes to spread out naturally for greater stability and less injuries. After a few short runs in Altra's shoes, the wider toe-box coupled with the evened out sole make for a surprisingly comfortable experience.
The cheekily named 3-Sum from Altra is our running shoe of choice for hot weather. Designed and named for triathlons, the 3-Sum is equally at home off the race course as on city streets and trails alike. A special anti-microbial liner with a tongueless form-fitting design allows for high-performance sock-free wearability—a major plus when the temperature rises. Vents in the sole at the heel and forefoot (intended for transitions from swimming) increase airflow and make running sock-less a fresh experience. Vegan-friendly and perfect for summer, the 3-Sum is available for both men and women from Altra for $130.
The Runner by Clean Bottle
The importance of staying hydrated during a run—especially in hot weather—cannot be overstated. While varying degrees of temperature and intensity of exercise call for different hydration plans, having water on-hand during a run is crucial in high temperatures. The Runner from Clean Bottle is an ergonomic option that is manageable while running. Clean Bottle's unique screw-off bottom allows for complete cleaning—meaning no funky smells, ever. Adding to the safety and convenience of an easy-to-carry bottle, The Runner comes equipped with enough space for a smartphone, keys, money, ID and a bit of extra food to keep you from hitting the wall. Having a phone on-hand to track runs, listen to tunes or call in case of an emergency provides peace of mind on long, remote runs. The Runner is available from Clean Bottle for $25.
Endurance Fuel by Tailwind Nutrition
Sometimes plain water isn't enough to hydrate and replace what the body loses during exercise. During more extreme temperatures, the body burns more energy, meaning more electrolytes need to be replaced. Often viewed as only necessary for competitive athletes, endurance supplements offer a wealth of benefits to runners of all levels, especially in warmer temperatures. Endurance Fuel from Colorado's Tailwind Nutrition provides gluten-free, organic energy with a mellow taste. Endurance Fuel allows you to not only run further and faster, keeping hydrated and properly fueled makes recovery from summer runs a breeze. Available in four flavors, Endurance Fuel is available for $35 for a three-pound bag.
Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom
While we're huge fans of recent wearable fitness technology such as the Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand, sometimes a wristwatch is the best way to track a run without your smartphone at the ready. The Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom is packed with features. The GPS tracking ability of the watch is arguably the best on the market. Using TomTom technology, you'll get accurate speed and pace information even when you're out of signal range. In addition to tracking your route, speed and distance, the Nike+ Sportwatch tracks calories burned and can be optionally synced with a heart rate monitor or the fitness nerd's Holy Grail of data, Nike+. Monitoring runs and training progress is one of the key motivators for getting those first few strides out of the way. At just $169, the Nike+ SportWatch is a mid-level investment packed with features usually found only in higher cost watches.
FIT Radio for iPhone and Android
For some, the only way to get laced up and out the door is with a fist-pumping playlist. While many podcasts offer beat-per-minute-organized playlists—tailored for various workouts—we found the music to be lacking a certain inspiring quality. The recently launched, rebuilt version of FIT Radio is packed with mixes from well-known DJs and FIT Radio users alike. Choose between musical genres or occasion, with everything from hip-hop to country and party playlists or cool down relaxation tunes. FIT Radio's goal is keep you motivated while you exercise and make it easier. No downloading, no vibe-killing introductions or product plugs, just jump straight into your secret weapon playlist and go for it. FIT Radio is available from Apple's App Store and Google Play, free of charge.
Images courtesy of their respective companies