Marathon Gear Essentials – the ultimate shopping list

Marathon Gear Essentials – the ultimate shopping list

If you have ever run a Marathon you know that racing is not only about training and nutrition, but also about your gear. Wearing the wrong outfit, getting blisters from the wrong shoes or chafing can not only ruin your Marathon goals but also take all the fun away. So I have compiled this list of the most important Marathon gear essentials. Proven in more than 20 Marathons that I ran, including the 12 Marathons that I did in 2018.

The most important thing to remember is to try all your Marathon gear before the actual event. Always remember the rule:

Nothing new on race day!

So here are my Marathon essentials, that I always pack into my bag when I travel to a race:

Shoes

Shoes are the first item on my Marathon gear essentials list. Some people might find them optional, as people have run Marathons without shoes. Like Abebe Bikila, who won the 1960 Olympic Marathon barefoot. But as a regular runner I assume you don’t want to even try running that distance without good running shoes on your feet.

Picking the right shoes

This could fill up a full blog post on it’s own. And there are definitely a few out there. How to chose the right shoes for you has become nearly rocket science. I would recommend a simple 3 step strategy to find the right shoe for your needs:

  • Take your old running shoes to a professional running shop
  • Have a video analysis done of yourself running in your old and various new shoes
  • Pick the ones that looks right on video and that also feel good

Training in your running shoes

Even if you have picked the right shoes for you, you still need to train in them (aka run in them properly) before the race. This will break them in so you don’t get blisters or black toe nails on race day. I recommend running at least 100 km over a few weeks in them.

Running outfit

Unless you are up for a nudist race, or chose to run in a costume, a proper running outfit is part of your Marathon gear. It should comprise of running shorts or leggings and a running top depending on the temperatures. As with running shoes there are two important factors to consider:

The right outfit for the right temperatures

Your running outfit should fit the temperatures on race day. As you want to go fast, you should wear an outfit that you would freeze in at the start line. If you are not a little bit cold at the start, you are definitely wearing too much for later on.

But what if I am getting really cold at the start line? There are always options for that. Wear old clothing that you can toss away before the start. Most of it will be collected by charities afterwards. Another option is to wear a thick black trash bag to keep warm.

Another thing that I learned when it comes to Marathon outfits is to always have several options available depending on the weather. The same race can have extremely different temperatures in different years. So bring various outfits to the race in case the weather forecast changes.

Training in your race outfit

The logic is the same as for running shoes. You need to train in you race outfit (that includes costumes) before the Marathon. By running in your outfit you will find out potential problems like chafing or wardrobe malfunctions. You want to sort out these things before the race, and not be surprised during your Marathon.

Underwear

Yes, some people also think underwear is optional. Especially if the undergarments are part of the running shorts. But I really disagree. First, the underwear in your running shorts might not be the right one for you. Second, if you are a woman you definitely need a good sports bra to support breasts. As with shoes and running outfits you need to test your underwear before race day. I personally am a big fan of Runderwear, a British startup that makes really soft and comfy running underwear.

Socks

Running socks are an often neglected, but very important Marathon gear item. With all the developments in recent years socks have become a major part of the running apparel industry. The options nowadays are endless: short, long, thick, thin, colorful or plain black. One of the most recent developments is the use of compression socks to enhance performance. If you want to keep your old socks, but still want to try compression gear, you can also wear compression calf sleeves.

GPS sports watch

If you want to run a Marathon for time and aim for a new personal best, a GPS sports watch is also a Marathon essential. In the past GPS watches were heavy, huge and fairly ugly, but recently the manufacturers have focused more on design. The options nowadays are also endless. Most GPS sports watches also include a heart rate monitor, either with a chest band or a visual one included in the watch. When choosing a sports watch you should look at the following factors:

  • size and weight
  • design
  • price
  • features like Wifi, Bluetooth, multi sport functions

Running belt or pouch

If you decide to carry various items during your race, like your mobile phone, gels or even just a tissue, you might find that the pockets in your running gear are too small (even if you are lucky to have some). So you might want to consider a running belt or arm pouch. The choice is completely yours, based on what you feel more comfortable in. I personally have chosen a running belt that not only fits my phone but also some gels and where I can attach my race bib. You can find it here.

Alternatively there are also pouches that you can wear on your upper arms. Some people find them more comfortable than belts, but usually they only fit a mobile phone.

Note: bringing your phone to a race is a controversial topic. Yes, listening to music with headphones is often forbidden at races. But even if it is I bring my phone to take a lot of pictures before, during and after the race. It is an essential part of my Marathon gear because I love to take pictures as a souvenir. Plus you get to see them on my blog later on.

Hydration kits

Depending on the race you might want to bring a hydration kit. In some races, like longer trail races, hydration packs are even mandatory. In others like the NYC Marathon only bottles are allowed. As with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages when bringing your own hydration kit. Even if it could slow you down, it will keep you hydrated in hot weather. Plus it is good for the environment as you are using less plastic bottles or cups at the water stations.

Hydration kits come in various options and sizes. You can run with a water bottle in your hand, wear a running belt with bottles or even a hydration pack on your back. Just make sure that you cleanse and dry them thoroughly between runs.I personally use this race vest/hydration pack from Inov8 because of the 4 pouches in the front. (Yes, I always carry a lot of stuff)

Accessoires like hats, gloves or sunglasses

Depending on the weather you might need some accessories to protect you from the sun, rain, heat or cold. This could include sunglasses, hats, gloves, rain jackets or a scarf. I recommend investing in a few that have been especially designed for running. Yes you could wear your normal ones, but it is nicer if they are moisture wicking and light weight. My personal favorite are tube scarves, as they can be worn as scarves, beanies, headbands or wrist sweatbands.

Anti-Chafing solutions

If you have ever had a really bad blister, or chafing, or even bleeding nipples as a man, you know how painful it can get. Chafing can really ruin your race. So how can you avoid it?

I recommend applying a lot of anti chafing balm to all the potential areas affected, like between your thighs or around your armpits and even your most sensitive parts around your underwear. For feet I would either go with balm or special blister plasters. If you are a man, putting tape or plasters onto your nipples is also a good idea. Ladies: you don’t need to cover your nipples if you are wearing a good sports bra, but applying balm around and under the bra seams is a good idea.

I personally like these brands for blister plasters and anti-chafing balm. But there are also low cost options like normal tape and Vaseline. Whatever works for you is great as long as you stay chafe free!

 

Did you like this post? Then check out my Marathon race reviews!

 

 

Ras al Khaimah – RAK Half Marathon

Ras al Khaimah – RAK Half Marathon

You probably have never heard of the Ras al Khaimah aka RAK Half Marathon. Which is a shame, because the RAK Half Marathon is one of the fastest Half Marathons in the world. It currently (2019) is the course of the European Record, set by Swiss runner Julien Wanders in February 2019..

The RAK Half Marathon is very fast and flat, but unfortunately also a bit boring, because it is located in a quite remote area. But you will definitely not miss your friends and family on the sidelines, and the weather will also very like be fantastic. One more cool thing: the official RAK Half Marathon race pictures are free for everyone afterwards.

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Product Review: Runderwear Running Underwear

Product Review: Runderwear Running Underwear

Very often you will hear runners talk about gear: their favorite running shoes, compression pants or other fancy race outfits. One of the most important items that is usually overlooked is running underwear. We just don’t like to talk bout what we wear under our race gear, even though running underwear can make or break your personal PR. When you experience severe chafing around your sensitive parts you know what I mean. Disclaimer: For this post I was testing Runderwear running underwear products for free. Runderwear is a British start-up that produces (as you might guess) running underwear. They first started out with running underpants, and have since then expanded their product range to sports bras and running socks. I have been a fan of Runderwear for a while, and I recommend it because I really love the product, and I am not getting paid for it. And I love to support young entrepeneurs, as I know how challenging it can be to run your own business.

How I discovered Runderwear

I first came across Runderwear when I was looking for running underpanties to wear during my 24 hour World’s Mudder Race. At that race you have to wear a wetsuit for several hours, and avoiding chafing under the wetsuit was the top goal. A friend of mine who was also an ultrarunner suggested I should try Runderwear, and he was definitely the right. I survived the 24hour race without chafing, and have been a fan of Runderwear ever since. I have worn the underpanties in every race since then (for OCRs and for my 12 Marathons in 12 Months Fundraising Project). So I was very happy when I was offered the opportunity to test a complete set of Runderwear running underwear. I have tested it thouroughly at Romatikmarathon Füssen, Reykjavik Marathon , Berlin Marathon and Europe’s Toughest Mudder Berlin, and it is now a staple item on my packing list for World’s Toughest Mudder this year.

Running Underwear

Runderwear Running Underwear

What to look for in running underwear

Please call me old fashioned: but what you want to look for in running underwear is functionality, not style. Don’t get me wrong, I love stylish underwear. And I wear lots of sexy and playful outfits during my pole dancing classes. But I would never consider wearing that for running.
So what am I looking for in running underwear?

  • It should be comfortable. I do not want to get blisters or chafing.
  • It should absorb sweat and keep me as dry and warm as possible.
  • It should also support my body, especially when it comes to sports bras. Yes, all girls need a bit more support for running, and a good sports bra is crucial.

Runderwear Running panties

Runderwear offers a wide range of running underpanties. The come as briefs, hipsters hot pants and G-strings. They come in various colors but I prefer the simple black. The are nearly seamless, and the edges are super soft. The fabric is also super soft and moisture wicking. As I’ve mentioned before I have been using the briefs for a while now, and I never experienced any chafing problems. And what I really love is the little slogan ” Don’t run commando” on the inside of the panties.
 

Runderwear Sports Bra

Runderwear offers a standard sports crop top made out of the same fabric as the underpanties, but also a proper supporting sports bra. (This is the one I tested.) The sports bra is made of soft moisture wicking fabric. It has removable padding at the cups, wide adjustable straps and a hook eye closure at the back. At first I was a bit sceptical about the adjustable straps and the hooks in the back. I generally tried to avoid them in sports bras in the past because they would always lead to chafing. But not with this bra, so I was really positively surprised. On the contrary the adjustable straps are really helpful to get a good fit.
The bra comes only in black, but with a little bit of optional color on the trim. However, I still prefer simple black.
 

Runderwear Running Socks

The standard for running socks nowadays is that they come in a right foot and left foot version, with different ergonomic knitting stlyes to support the natural form around the toes, heels and arch of your foot. Runderwear running socks also fall into this category, however they are using a complete different approach to avoid blisters: the double layer sock!
Yes, this sounds strange, but is actually highly effective. With a double layer sock, the two layers are rubbing agains each other rather than the sock rubbing agains your foot and causing a blister. And for me this worked perfectly so far. Zero blisters and a lot of comfort.
And the socks are super soft and comfortable, as they are made out of breathable moisture wicking fabric. I could wear them all day.
 
Keen on trying Runderwear? Shop here and use discount code AERIALSPARTAN15 to get 15% off. They also offer free worldwide shipping for all orders over 30 GBP.
 

Running Underwear

Runderwear Running Underwear

Reykjavik Marathon

Reykjavik Marathon

Iceland has always been on my travel bucket list. When I heard there was a Marathon in Reykjavik happening in August, I absolutely had to go for my 12 Marathons in 12 months charity project. And I have to say that Reykjavik Marathon did not disappoint. The people were incredibly friendly, the scenery was fantastic and it was organized perfectly. There is not only the Reykjavik Marathon, but also a Half Marathon, a 10km and several fun runs. So even if you are not into running the full 42.2 km distance, it is a good reason to travel to Iceland. And the best thing: later that day the famous Cultural Night is happening, with concerts and art installations taking place all over town, finishing with giant fireworks.

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LGT Alpin Marathon Liechtenstein

LGT Alpin Marathon Liechtenstein

Have you ever heard of Liechtenstein, a tiny European country in the middle of the Alps? It is only 24.8km long and 12.4 kilometers wide. But it turns out you can run a Marathon there. So I ran 42.195kilometers from North to South and 1800m of elevation gain from the bottom to the top at the LGT Alpin Marathon as part of my 12 Marathons in 12 Months project.

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Prague Marathon

Prague Marathon

Prague Marathon is the biggest and most important marathon of the Czech Republic. It is always held in early May, and features the highlights of the wonderful old town. Prague Marathon offers the classic distance as well as a two Half Marathon relay race.

I ran Prague Marathon as marathon no. 6 of my 12 Marathons in 12 months project and I really loved it, except for the cobblestones and tram tracks. But that is something you probably have to accept when running in an old historic city like that.

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