As a recreational runner, racing in a marathon has long been on my bucket list. After deciding that this was finally the year, I submitted my registration, crafted a training plan and got to putting some miles on my legs.
When it comes to long-distance running, everyone has different training needs. Some swear by compression bands, kinesiology tape or certain vitamins and supplements. And while no product will make your legs magically move faster or completely dissolve the post-race aches, there are some that can help improve your recovery and keep you primed for your next run.
If you subscribe to an active lifestyle, you probably already have a few items on hand to kickstart your training, but if you need some more ideas, here are 20 products that helped me make the journey to the finish line.
With any type of exercise, finding a shoe that offers you comfort and support is critical. I’m a huge fan of Hoka for running shoes, especially since they offer a lot of their shoes in wide sizes, which I find fit my feet better. Hoka’s Rincon 3s entered my life when I retired my beloved Clifton 8s
a few weeks into my serious training, but I would happily lace up in either at any time.
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Since marathons are really all about pacing, having some sort of way to track your runs and tempo, be it handwritten, smartphone app
or fitness watch
, is a great idea. I love using my Garmin watch to monitor my pace in real time, so I can make sure I don’t burn out early. It’s kind of like having a digital coach right on your wrist. Plus, it’s great for tracking data from all your runs including distance, mile splits and elevation gains, which you can view through Garmin’s smartphone app.
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I’ve always been a fan of running hats, but I’ve started to prefer visors since they let the top of my head breath and give me more style options for keeping my hair off my back. This Adidas visor pulls double-duty for me. It keeps the sweat from my hairline from rolling down my face and gives me extra sun protection.
Your clothes should make you feel comfortable and supported from the beginning of your run to the very end. I did all of my long runs in Spyder’s Woven Shorts
(which now seem to be unavailable). But these Hudson 4-Inch Shorts from Outdoor Voices are very similar; both are lined and lightweight, with a thick waistband and a pocket for keys or gels.
$250 $150 at Amazon I
’d been rocking with my beloved $30 wireless Amazon headphones for a while but decided I needed to upgrade to something with longer battery life, both for race day and training. Since these Powerbeats Pros
fit over the ear, they don’t fall out like my old ones used to. In addition to having great sound, they’re also sweatproof and have a killer nine-hour battery life on full charge.
While hydration is key during a run, it’s also very key before and after one too. I’ve always loved having a bigger 32- or 40-ounce water bottle
since you just have to fill it up less and can have more water on hand. Especially before particularly long or hot runs, I made sure to drink at least a full 32 ounces of water both before I set out and right after I got home.
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My first few 10-plus mile runs really took a lot out of me and left me feeling exhausted and sometimes sick-like, so I knew I needed to find a fix if I wanted to run longer distances. I started adding these Nuun tablets to my post-run hydration routine to get some electrolytes back into my body and help it return to normal a little quicker. They’re super easy to drop in and are great for fueling up pre-run too.
The peak of my training took place in the summer which meant I did plenty of sweaty, sticky, hot runs. On any day, but especially hot ones, hydration is essential. This CamelBak pack let me have water on demand anytime I needed it and is easy to refill at public water fountains. And since it sits on your back, you can keep your hands free and store small items like house keys or energy gels.
I tested a lot of different energy goos and gels before race day to find ones that made me feel good but also didn’t make me gag. This Maurten gel was by far my favorite, and the one I used the most on race day. It pretty much just tastes like sweet, unflavored jello, and because it’s a little bit thicker you actually can chew it (I know sounds weird) to help break it up and get it down easier. However, if you want something truly chewable, the Gu Energy Chews
were another one of my go-tos.
Sunscreen is always a must if you’re going to be spending time outside, especially in direct sunlight. This is my go-to everyday face sunscreen
but I’ve also been loving it for running since I never have any issues with it stinging my eyes or irritating my skin. And I always make sure to partner it with sweat-resistant sunscreen
to protect the rest of my body too.
Obviously, any kind of deodorant is a good idea to eliminate odor while you workout. Because I love dual-use products, I also use mine as a makeshift anti-chafing stick
on my thighs and groin when I run in shorts.
Since writing something by hand always makes me feel more likely to commit to doing it, I wrote out my full training plan for the marathon. This Day Designer planner has been my go-to planner
for a few years because it has plenty of space to track my work, personal and fitness tasks along with any other training notes or important dates.
No one in my immediate circle has ever run a marathon, so I was mostly on this journey alone. I was also sourcing information all over the place, including at my local bookstore. While this isn’t a book that will give you tips and tricks for making it through the race, it did give me a certain sense of comfort in my early training days and gave me a new lens on the trials that accompany running.
Training for a marathon doesn’t just mean you’re solely running. You’ll also want to incorporate resistance training, active rest days and regular stretching. I use this Lululemon mat, which is a thinner version of our pick for the best yoga mat
, almost every day for yoga, at-home strength training or just lying on after a run.
I love (and love to hate) foam rolling. It hurts but just makes you feel so good. There are tons of variations on foam rollers with different features and lengths. While a standard one will be just fine to loosen up your body pre-run, post-run or really any time you feel tight, I’m inclined to ones that vibrate like this FitIndex roller. The vibrations help me target smaller knots in my quads and IT band that are hard to reach with regular rolling, and the consistent motion honestly just makes the entire experience a little more enjoyable.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Crocs are comfy. After the race, slipping on my Crocs felt like sending my feet to rest on marshmallow pillows. Your feet are ultra important when running frequently and Crocs give your feet more support when walking around your house or running errands without being as confining as casual sneakers.
Having a designated sweat towel keeps you from having to constantly launder your regular bath towels. A microfiber towel, like this one from Rainleaf, is perfect for wiping your brow during strength workouts and for keeping your yoga mat or floor from getting slick with sweat during your cool-downs.
Runner’s feet aren’t known for being particularly pretty. While you might not be able to keep your feet completely smooth, blister or callus-free, a pumice stone (perhaps partnered with some nail clippers
or files) will at least help you maintain a semi-normal foot state.