Today, I thought I’d share some of the physical objects that I really, really loved while I was training for San Francisco. Maybe you’re wondering what you really need or looking for recommendations for your own training (or looking for something to give a runner for their birthday?)
I was finishing college for the first half of my training, so I had to make careful decisions about what I bought that went toward running because I didn’t have much money. The second half, I had a job so I had a little more freedom. That’s why I decided to start my list with the things I don’t think I could have trained for and run a marathon without. And I mean, could not run without, absolutely needed it to cross that finish line.
Stuff You Need
The #1 thing you absolutely cannot run a marathon without is a good pair of running shoes. I’m not talking a pair of aesthetic Nikes. Abandon all hope of finding a pair of running shoes that will match every outfit because running shoes generally come in bright, sometimes bizarre, color choices. And they are not cheap. But you’re going to be putting your body through the ringer by training for a marathon. Good shoes help your feet, protect your joints, and all that prevents injury. Go to a running store. Have them help you pick out a pair that fits your feet and your stride. It’s going to be expensive but believe me, this is the one thing you want to spend your money on.
I started off my training in Brooks Launch 4s and then switched to the Ghost 9s. I bought a pair of the Ghost 10s towards the end but ran my marathon in the Ghost 9s. Brooks has an awesome questionnaire you can fill out online to help you get an idea about what kind of shoe you should get but I’d still recommend going to a store to try them on.
#2: Midrun fuel. This might be surprising but if you don’t take in enough fuel during the marathon, you’re going to hit the dreaded wall. My body is generally sensitive so going in, I knew I needed to be very sure that wasn’t going to happen. Midrun fuel is the sort of thing that is entirely personal preference. I’d recommend getting a few different kinds from Amazon or your local running store. I tried three different kinds before I decided to use Gatorade Chews. They were soft and easy to chew while running and they came in a slim plastic sleeve that wasn’t too hard to manipulate while running. But again, try a few different kinds to find one that you like and doesn’t upset your stomach.
#3: Some way to track your distance. You can use Mapmyrun.com to plot your route out before you leave. There are also apps (Nike Run Club) that track you while you run and then there’s GPS watches. You can pick the one that’s best for you (or your wallet.)
Stuff that’s helpful
#1: A good pair of socks. I’m not kidding. Make sure you have at least one pair of really good running socks for your long run. I got mine off of Amazon here. Blisters are not fun. Some extra padding is nice.
#2: A handheld water bottle, especially if you’re training in the summer. Dehydration is not fun. Believe me, I have the horrible memories to prove it. I carried this water bottle on any run longer than 6 miles this summer and it made such a difference. I loved being able to take a gulp of water when I was hot and a fair distance from a water fountain.
#3: A running belt that has pockets. I like these better than armbands because you can store more stuff and it’s easier to get it. I bought the Nathan Hipster Belt off of Amazon. Once it was on, I forgot about it and there was plenty of room for my chews, my phone, and if I had needed it, a hotel key or car key. One piece of advice: put your phone in the pocket against your lower back to stop the belt from riding up.
#4: A GPS watch. I know, I know, I said it was an option and they can be kind of pricey. That being said, if Matt hadn’t given me the Garmin Forerunner 235 for my birthday, I would have broken down and bought some kind of GPS watch. Map My Run works great until part of your route is closed because of construction (or, in my case, a flooding river) and it’s nice not to have to worry about whether I actually hit the right distance. Plus, plotting a 20 mile route is time-consuming. But I also just really, really love this watch. Matt got it off of Amazon here.
#5: Body Glide. Chafing is real, especially in the spring and summer. Before the race, I lathered my legs and lats with Body Glide, and it saved me. The only place that chafed was my lower back and I just never thought to put Body Glide there because I’ve never had a chafing problem there before. You can find it at a sports store or, surprise, off of Amazon.
Stuff that’s fun
#1: A really, really nice pair of running shorts (or leggings, if you’re running a fall/winter marathon.) I splurged on a pair of Lululemon shorts but I don’t remember which one. I did steer clear of the really short ones because my thighs are just too strong to be contained by such little fabric.
#2: Compression socks. I got a cheap pair off of Amazon to see if they were worth it. Absolutely. I put mine on after my long runs and it felt like a mini-massage. I’ll definitely be investing in a pair of really good ones in the next few months.
#3: Foam roller. I don’t know if this is fun but it definitely helps with recovery. I foam rolled my legs out before the race. Nothing like a little pain to wake you up at 4:00 am.
Hair ties. Lots of hair ties.
A really good sports bra. Probably most necessary after the running shoes if you’re a woman. I did read an article about men wearing sports bras to avoid nipple chafing but I don’t know how accurate/credible it was.
Golf ball to massage your feet. I’ve heard that some people freeze them before they leave for a run and it feels good. I’m kind of a baby about my feet being cold though, so I didn’t ever do that.
And that’s it for my marathon training favorites! Let me know if you have any to add or if you want to know more about any of the stuff I used!