Aspiring marathoners need to invest months of training in order to hit the road on race day. They also need to invest in quality running gear along the way that will help them cross the finish line in one piece. Here’s some of the gear you’ll need to pick up if you’re planning on tackling those tough 26.2 miles.
Running shoes and socks
If you’re contemplating running a marathon, chances are good that you already own a pair of running shoes. However, you’re going to want to invest in a new pair for your marathon training. You’ll be logging many miles on your shoes, and the last thing you want is an injury stemming from old, worn-out sneakers.
Getting properly fitted for running shoes at a specialty running store is quite possibly the greatest investment you’ll ever make as a runner. You may end up paying a little extra, but your feet will thank you.
On the topic of feet, specialty running socks are another worthy investment. Pick up at least three pairs so that you have a rotation that will last you through to laundry day. Running socks are padded in all the right places and are made of special materials that will help prevent blisters. They come in different styles—tall, short, thick, thin—so pick up a few different types to see what you prefer.
Race entry fee
There are so many different marathons to choose from that it can be difficult to decide which one to sign up for.
First, figure out how long you will need to train for (most training programs last between 16 and 20 weeks or so if you’re already a steady runner). Your race date should coincide with the end of your training program, so this should help narrow down your options.
Next, consider whether you want a big race with all the extra frills or a low-key local race. There are pros and cons to both, including the race entry fee; it’s likely to be much higher for a race that involves road closures, sweet swag, and numerous fueling stations.
For those who think running clothes are just a gimmick, think again.
Chafing is a real thing, and technical clothing plays a major role in preventing it. Proper running clothes can also help wick away sweat, keep you cool when the weather gets hot and vice versa, and will be way less smelly than regular clothes.
Buy at least three tops and three bottoms that fit you properly. If you’ll be running through the seasons, consider picking up different styles of clothes to cover your bases—think tanks, T-shirts, and long-sleeve options for tops, and shorts, capris, and long pants for bottoms.
Gadgets are a lot of fun, but they aren’t an absolute must when it comes to running. Still, many runners consider tech gear to be an essential tool for their training. An activity tracking watch can help you manage your pace, track your speed workouts, and monitor your heart rate. You can also track your distances and compare your activities with those of other runners in your area.
Not interested in making the big investment? Consider downloading a free or low-cost app to your phone. These apps are typically less accurate than a watch, but they still get the job done.
Fuel and hydration
The world of fueling can be a weird, confusing place. Get ready to acquaint yourself with the gels, gummies, beans, and blocks that will keep your legs propelling forward on your training runs and during your race. It’s always a good idea to try different types and brands of fuel during your training, since some might work better than others. You can also consider homemade fuel options like dates or mashed potatoes in a baggie.
Your hydration needs will vary depending on where you train and the details of your race. You might be lucky enough to have a running route dotted with water fountains and a race where water and sports drink stations appear every mile. On the other hand, you might need to supply all of your own water and electrolytes.
Even if you’ll be provided with water and sports drinks on your runs, it’s still a good idea to carry a small, handheld water bottle so you can hydrate when you need to. If you don’t like handheld options, look for fuel belts that hold mini bottles or a fanny-pack-type belt that can stash a bottle.
Hydration packs are a good option for those who need to carry more water. These vest-type packs are designed to be sleek, not bulky, and can carry water bottles and bladders that will see you through even the hottest and longest runs.
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