Spring and summer can be tricky for runners to navigate: depending on where you live, you might see wide temperature variability over one day, plenty of precipitation and less-than-optimal road and trail conditions.
But with a little planning and a few essential pieces of gear, you'll be able to log plenty of miles and keep your training on track. Here are four must-have items for your spring and summertime runs.
A Lightweight, Waterproof Shell
Perhaps the most essential piece of running gear for bad weather, a good-quality waterproof shell can make even the most miserable of weather conditions feel almost cozy. On chilly mornings, layer warm, wicking garments beneath it, and laugh at Mother Nature as you blast through whatever she throws your way.
A great shell will be brightly colored and/or reflective for enhanced visibility and might include extra zippered pockets to safely stash energy gels, electronics or other small items.
A Pair of Sturdy, All-Purpose Training Shoes
Whether you're an off-road trail runner or you stick to the side of the highway, the surfaces you run on can be more hazardous in the springtime. There may be a lot of debris; your path might be laden with sticks, branches, acorns and the like from windstorms; and of course, you're likely to encounter a puddle or two.
This is probably not the best time to don your ultra-lightweight racing shoes or to give the latest minimalist model a try. Instead, opt for a solid training shoe that will protect your feet from sharp objects and give you the stability you need on wet or uneven surfaces. If they happen to be water-resistant, so much the better.
A Comfortable Hydration Belt or Bottle
There are hundreds of different products to choose from, but the only feature that matters is whether or not you find the hydration belt or bottle comfortable and easy to carry or wear. Every body is different, so it might not be adequate to rely on reviews and comments online. Instead, visit your local running store and request a hands-on trial before purchasing a hydration product.
And don't be satisfied with just wrapping an empty hydration belt around your waist, either. Ask the store clerk if they have demo models you can fill with water and test out with an actual jog around the block or on their treadmill. The same goes for handheld models: A bottle that holds 20 ounces of liquid sounds great until you have to hold it in your hand for 40 minutes of running.
Waterproof Gear For Your Electronics
Many people love to run while listening to a favorite playlist or motivational podcast. Unfortunately, a cheap carrying case or armband could cost you your smartphone. If you've already paid hundreds of dollars for your phone or music device, why not invest a little more in a sport case that's guaranteed to protect your device in any weather?
When comparison-shopping, be sure to read the fine print to ensure the product is really guaranteed.