By Joseph Krawiec
My house is on fire, and it’s the morning of the marathon. Let’s hope this never happens. Let’s also hope that running a marathon isn’t the first thing on my mind! But just go with my silly hypothetical situation for a minute. If I could only grab one piece of marathon gear to use, what would it be?
Anti-chafing balm. Why? I chafe horribly. Even if I ran in my best running gear without anti-chafing balm, I doubt I would make it more than a few miles. I don’t want to imagine a full marathon’s worth of chafed skin!
Of course, I have made a few assumptions:
Assumption #1: The marathon provides fluids (most do). Otherwise, I would save my filled-up running water bottle first (I always fill it the night before the race).
Assumption #2: I have some form of clothing or pajamas on. No one wants to see me reenact Lady Godiva gone marathoner!
Assumption #3: The temperature is above freezing. Otherwise, I would choose warmer clothes!
And if I could grab three more…
If I could grab two more items, it would be running socks and running shoes. Any kind of injury to your foot (blisters, cuts, etc.) is bad news when you are running marathon distances. Sure, barefoot running has proven more efficient, but I am not ready to run an entire marathon without anything on my feet!
If I could add a fourth item, it would be my running bra (or nipple chafing guards for guys). No need to explain that one. It’s just better for us all…
For the runner on a budget
If you must prioritize, this exercise gives you a sense for the most important marathon gear. But in all honesty, every item in our series “Running gear every marathoner needs” is pretty critical to achieving your marathon goal. Try to have at least one of each.
To get the most bang for your buck, go for the options that I’ve noted as most versatile (i.e. running capris vs. shorts and pants). Use/wear these items on long and medium runs only and wash them immediately afterwards (and hang dry). You may do more laundry, but you’ll have to buy less gear up front and your gear will last longer. I happily wore the same running outfit for every long run and race for my first two years. My family could always spot me!
Same running outfit, different race!
For the runner who’s ready to invest
If you do have some budget flexibility, add another running top, bra, tights and socks. This will cut down on the laundry hassle factor. If you really want to go big, consider the Gear page recommendations. Items like running watches, headphones, phone holders and running flashlights make marathon training much more comfortable. They aren’t necessary, but I would have a hard time running without them!
Having several pairs of running shoes is also helpful. This sounds extravagant, I know! But there are three reasons:
Reason #1: Rotating between two pairs of shoes during training gives your shoe soles a chance to “rest”.
Reason #2: Rotating in a new pair of shoes 50 miles or so before the marathon ensures your shoes are broken in, but not worn out, on race day.
Reason #3: You can train and race in the same model of shoe. Shoe manufacturers frequently update shoe models, and I’ve noticed that new models can feel quite different from predecessors. I’ve had a few meltdowns upon discovering my favorite shoe was discontinued, forcing me to switch models/brands weeks before the marathon.
Your marathoner makeover is complete. Are you going to have a “signature” running outfit like I did? Show us! Post a picture of yourself in your new marathon gear on our Facebook page.
Resources referenced in this post:
Perl, Daniel P., Adam I. Daoud, and Daniel E. Lieberman. “Effects of Footwear and Strike Type on Running Economy.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2012). The American College of Sports Medicine. Web.