Interviewing everyone from an exercise physiologist and a big-city newspaper writer to me, he wanted to know our advice on training and racing in summer heat.
He approached me because of what I had written about compression wear and because I live in the warm climate of Houston, Texas.
The article just got published in a U.S. running magazine, but none of the material from his interview of me made it into the article, apparently due to space restrictions.
What I said in the interview is valuable, especially for any endurance runner or walker who lives in a warm climate and is considering buying compression wear.
So here is the transcript of that unpublished interview:
Compression Wear in Summer
What pushed you to start running in compression wear during the hot, humid summer months of Texas? What, if any, scientific basis was there at the onset?
I started running in compression wear when I got a pair of compression tights as a Christmas gift. My sister-in-law, who is not a runner, bought them as a cool-weather item for me to wear the following month in the Chevron Houston Marathon. I wore them in that race and found that they seemed to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). So I kept wearing them during my long runs on Saturday mornings with my group training program — all the way into July and August, which tend to give us the highest temperatures and humidity here in Houston, even at five in the morning!
The Benefits of Compression Wear
How do you feel training in such clothing benefits you as an athlete?
Since I got that first pair of compression tights, I switched to a different brand that seems to give me even stronger compression, even less DOMS, and better stabilization of my knees. I’m 6’3″ tall, so that last benefit is especially important to me. I also train with a short-sleeve compression top from that same, second brand. And I like how it tends to pull my shoulders back, which seems to help with respiration.
Concerns and Cautions
Any concerns or cautions related to running in compression tops and tights during the warmer months of the year?
I would say that anyone can replace a non-compression top with a compression top without much trouble, no matter whether the weather is hot or cold. But I have two suggestions for runners who are new to wearing compression tights. If you want to wear them in the summer, then you may want to begin with shorter-distance runs — because they will be warmer than shorts. If you want to wear them in the winter, then expect that you may have to wear an extra set of tights or that you may want to get a pair of compression tights that are designed for cold weather. After once going on a 25-degree-Fahrenheit training run with a lighter pair of compression tights and nothing on top of them, I returned home and peeled off those tights, only to discover that I had gotten the cold-weather equivalent of a sun burn on my legs!
Anything compression-related you’d like to add?
Hospitals regularly put compression socks on patients to help with blood-flow return from the legs. So you have to know that compression wear works. Put simply, compression tights help to reduce DOMS and to improve stability, and compression tops help with posture and respiration. I would add that compression wear does an even better job at pulling perspiration away from the skin than does wicking, non-compression wear, apparently because the fabric is always in contact with the skin. I recommend that any runner who is curious about compression wear perhaps start with compression shorts or socks … and then go from there!
What Say You?
Wearing the right clothing in hot weather is crucial to your happiness as an endurance runner or walker. What do YOU wear in the summer to stay happy? What is the oddest clothing that you have seen an endurance runner or walker wear in summer heat? Are you still trying to find the perfect clothing for a run or walk in the heat of summer? I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below!