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Summer is the perfect time to start training for one of those famous fall marathons: the New York City Marathon, the Detroit Free Press Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon. We don’t know what social distancing guidelines will do to these major events, but why not be ready just in case? Since you can’t be too fit, there’s plenty to gain no matter what the outcome.
While starting your training course in the heat of summer may seem a little counterintuitive, it’s actually a great way to build up your stamina (as long as you do it safely, of course). As the training miles get longer building into fall, the days start to get cooler, and you’ll find that it’s easier to keep your spirits up as you keep placing one foot in front of the other.
Even though the days are longer than usual, the chances are pretty good that you’ll be running at least part of your daily miles in fairly direct sunlight, so you need to be sure that you’re protected. In addition to good sunscreen, you should don a good running hat.
What makes a hat a good running hat?
When you’re selecting a hat for long-distance running, you need to keep a few things in mind that you might not think of for other outdoor activities. We’ve compiled a list of seven things to consider when buying a hat for long-distance running.
Ventilation is probably the number one thing to consider when you’re looking for a running hat. Some hats have stretchy mesh sides that serve a dual purpose of keeping your head cool while maintaining a good fit. These mesh-sided hats look similar to a trucker hat, but they are more aerodynamic and lightweight. Other hats have ventilation holes laser cut into the actual fabric of the hat.
You should also be sure that your hat is made from moisture-wicking fabric. If it has a DWR (Durable Water Repellant) coating on the outside, you will be extra prepared for the elements.
If you have long hair, you should look for a hat that has a ponytail hole so that your hair isn’t bunched up under your hat and holding onto the heat.
You’re obviously not going to slap on a wide-brimmed straw hat or a bucket hat, but even a standard baseball cap probably isn’t the best choice for long-distance running. Your running hat needs to fit close to your head to reduce what little drag it does create.
There are only two kinds of running hats as far as fit is concerned: fitted and adjustable. If you want a fitted hat, you’re either going to need to know your head size, or you’ll need to find a hat that is made of very stretchy material. Even going the super-stretchy route, you need to know your general head size as those hats usually come in S/M or L/XL.
For adjustable hats, look for hats with a dual adjustable closure. The dual closure goes beyond the standard snapback or Velcro closure because, in addition to the snapback or Velcro, the hat has an elastic piece that adds that little extra snugness without being too tight.
Your hat’s weight may seem insignificant, but it can make a difference in how you feel when you’re starting to get tired. Ripstop, a special kind of material that is extra durable due to its weaving pattern, is an ultra-lightweight material that a lot of parachutes are made out of. You can also look for hats that have lightweight mesh sides.
Unless you have no sweat glands due to crossing paths with a certain radioactive spider, you’re probably going to start sweating at some point during your run. And with sweat, unfortunately, comes stink. Look for a hat that you can throw in the washing machine and that resists fading. Some hats are even made from anti-microbial fabric, so you don’t have to worry about grimy build-up making your face break out.
Probably one of the most important aspects of your running hat is its safety features.
- Reflective strips: The chances are pretty good that you’ll run at least a little bit during the dawn or dusk hours, so you need to make sure that other people and drivers can see you.
- Fluorescent colors: Fluorescent colors are also helpful in making sure that you get noticed on the road.
- Dark-colored under brim: Having a brim with a dark color on the underside can help you see better and keep you from squinting.
- UVA, UVB, and SPF Protection: Look for a hat that is made out of material that will protect your head from the sun. Your hair and scalp will thank you!
6. The Brim
A running hat’s brim is also different from the standard baseball cap because it is designed for both form and function. The brim needs to be crushable so that you can slip it in your back pocket or gym bag without ruining its shape. It also needs to be wide enough to protect you from the elements while remaining aerodynamic.
And, of course, the design of your hat is something to consider, too. Running hats come in every color under the sun, and you can choose from the traditional six-panel style or the more modern five-panel hat. Some hats even come with a terrycloth sweatband sewn inside that will keep the sweat out of your eyes, or a small pocket to hold a key or some cash.
The hat you choose is ultimately up to you, but if you select one based on the above recommendations, you can’t go wrong. And as you gear up for the race (whenever it may be), have a little fun with it and go with a make-your-own headwear company so you can customize your running hat to fit your running needs and personality.