As I gear up for my first marathon (1 week to go!) I've been worrying about my gear. Do I have everything I need to be comfortable for 26.2 miles? While my workout clothing drawer is brimming, not everything in there is meant for running. Since I've been analyzing my options, I thought I'd share my experience and insights with workout clothes thus far...
Shoes: Having a great pair of sneakers that are properly fitted for your feet is essential. Just recently, after sustaining a scary foot injury, I went to a local running shop and got myself fitted for shoes. Despite years of running and working out, I had never been fitted for shoes because my lack of injury made me think I was wearing the right ones. Well, I could not have been more wrong. Turns out I have fallen arches and am nearly flat-footed and need stability shoes rather than the standard neutral shoe. (For those of you who are curious, my current running shoe is pictured above, the Asics-GEL Kayano 19) What's worse is that I have most likely made my arches fall faster than they would have had I been wearing the right shoes all this time. So, while it took me years to get into the right shoes, I hope you heed this warning and get yourself fitted and aren't afraid to spend the money on a good pair!
Tops: When it comes to running a few miles, I think whatever is comfortable for you is best and whatever makes the most sense with the weather you'll be running in. However, when you get to long runs, the type of gear you have becomes more important. Technical shirts that wick away moisture are really important to keep your body cool and dry as you go along. A wet shirt can cause you to be chilled to the core once you stop moving and that can be dangerous and horribly uncomfortable. The other issue, and for me the much more important one, is combating chafing. There is nothing worse than having a scabbed up arm or chest or neck because a seam on your shirt rubbed you raw. Trust me, it's painful. This is also a concern with sports bras. I recommend looking for any technical gear that's titled "seamless" or at least have flat seams (these are usually selling points that companies will note on their tags). And definitely try out your top on a long run before race day so you know it's not going to bite you.
* For those of you more interested in weightlifting, I strongly encourage you to get some workout tank tops so that you can see your muscles working as you lift. Sure, it's a little vain, but it's also useful for making sure your form is correct and really appreciating all that your body can do and is doing.
Bottoms: Similarly to tops, it's when you get to the long runs that getting real technical gear becomes important. For me, capris are a must for long runs. My legs, no matter my size, rub against each other a bit when I run, so shorts are not an option when I'm running further than about 6 miles. Don't be afraid to wear bottoms that are fitted. Pants that have fabric around the ankles can be irritating and can potentially trip you up. In a similar vein, sagging pants an be just as frustrating, so go for the spandex!
Socks: I have often heard that when it comes to running if you've got good shoes and good socks, you're all set. Personally, I have had a fight with some of the "running socks". Compression socks are nice, especially after my foot injury, but the ones I have go up over my ankles and the pressure there can make my calves/ankles swell. I have some cushion-y socks that I love, but they are short and every once in a while slip down and that puts the backs of my heels at risk for rubbing against my shoes. Right now I'm still on the hunt for the perfect socks, but I make due with what I have and make sure to wear running socks on long runs (short runs I wear whatever socks I have on that day).
Accessories: Hydration is key when running long distances or lifting weights or doing an intense cardio session. Make sure you've got a water bottle handy that you like and feel comfortable with. It may seem silly to find the "perfect" water bottle, but it's amazing how different bottles can feel. Some are easy to drink out of, some feel too heavy to be dragging around with you, some leak, some don't hold enough water, etc. So take the time to try out a few. Also, when I do really long runs, I use a hydration pack so that I have easy access to water without having to carry a bottle or have a belt around my hips. Again, a personal preference, but if you're running for longer than an hour, you need water!
While this post is really running focused, I hope everyone finds it useful to start thinking about whether or not your gear is right for you and your workout needs. There is a lot of great technology out there, and plenty you can spend your money on, but I believe that if you get a couple of basic essentials, you don't need to spend a fortune just to stay in shape.
lover of fitness, sweets, veggies, adventure, travel, and feeling confident.
If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done. - Thomas Jefferson