Training for my first marathon (I can’t believe it’s in less than a week!) has taught me a LOT about running. I’ve been experimenting with a lot of things over this training period – from food to gear to types of runs – and spent quite a bit of money on said experimentation. What better use to put that money to than to share my findings with you? Such a good scientist, I am.
There’s a lot of apparel and a ton of gadgets out there for runners. It can get a bit overwhelming, so, oh fit and focused runners and wannabe runners, let me divulge (what I believe) you actually need and what you don’t.
What you need:
- Good shoes – Unless you want to be a barefoot runner (which in NYC would be pretty gross) you should definitely invest in a good pair of shoes. Runners should switch shoes every 300-500 miles, so if your sneaks are from high school, it’s probably time for a new pair. I suggest going to your local running store and getting your feet and running gait accessed so you can find the perfect pair. I bought the Asics (on the left) before marathon training started, and I already need a new pair for the race. I’ve started to break the Reeboks (on the right) in for the big day.
- Weather appropriate apparel – If you are running outdoors, it’s important to dress for the weather – actually 10 degrees warmer than the weather since your bod will warm up as you get going. (You’re so hot.) Sweat wicking apparel is your best bet. Avoid cotton, especially in the winter. For the summer, shorts and a short-sleeved T or tank top are good picks. For winter, layer up: tank top, cold-weather long sleeved shirt, sweat-wicking jacket, and be sure to cover up your toes, ears, and fingers!
- Filled water bottle (for longer runs) – If you’ll be out running for an hour or more, and won’t be running by any water fountains, you’ll need a water bottle or water belt. I really like my Nathan Quickdraw Plus.
- Fuel (for longer runs) – Again, if you’ll be out for an hour or more, you’ll need to fuel up. This can be as simple as a banana or dates, you can make your own chews, or fuel up with Energybits.
- A plan – When running outside, it’s important to know your route. Map out your miles ahead of time so that 1) you know how far you’ll be running and 2) so you don’t get lost!
- Identification – Keep some form of ID on you. Ya never know!
What you don’t need but may want:
- Music/good headphones – I like running sans music for some shorter runs, but I really enjoy having it for my long runs. I have an arm band to hold my phone (my music player) and I love my Bose headphones. The sound quality on these is great, but I can still hear what is happening around me (which is important for city running). They also have a shorter cord, so I don’t get tangled up in it as I run.
- GPS watch + HRM – I love having my Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS watch and heart rate monitor. It helps me track my progress, motivates me to run faster when I see I’m not running as fast I hoped, and keeps me on top of when I need to change my shoes. These are a bit of an investment, though – and definitely not a must, especially if you’re on a budget.
- Foam roller – This is another thing I really enjoy having, but isn’t a necessity. Rolling out your muscles helps soften them so they become more resistant to injury. It hurts like a mofo, though – at least at first. These can also get pretty pricey, but I got a low-end one like the below and it works just fine.
- Access to a treadmill – This is something I only have when traveling for work. I prefer to run outside, but it’s good to have a treadmill every now and then for some lower-impact running. Save the knees!
- Compression socks – These bad boys help with circulation and help with muscle recovery. It may be hard to justify buying socks that are 50 bucks a pop, but I do love my Lunatik Athletik socks.
- Expensive sports drinks/gels/chews – I’ve tried a TON of these during training, and liked quite a few. While fuel and hydration are musts for long runs, it’s definitely not necessary to go out and buy pricey sports drinks or pay out the wazhoo for gels. If you’re in a money pinch, try making your own!
So there you have it. My scientific findings from marathon training. I hope this helps those of you that are getting into running or thinking about investing a little more in your running.
What’s your must have piece of running gear, favorite fuel, or your gotta-have-it gadget?