One step in front of the other. In essence that’s all it takes to complete a marathon. But as anyone who has completed 26.2 miles knows, it takes much more than just hitting the pavement to get across that finish line.
Whether you’re training for your first 5K, your first marathon, or you’re tying up your sneakers for the first time in a while, there are loads of tips and tricks you can learn from running enthusiasts. Although every training run and race day is different, it still takes the same motivation, patience and determination to start and finish.
We asked a slew of experienced runners what their go-to’s are to set themselves up for a successful race. From their favorite pairs of sneakers to how they fuel themselves, their insights are here to help you, runner to runner.
Below is the marathon gear checklist real marathoners swear by:
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A pair of shades made just for runners.
Benny Anderson, who recently completed the Marine Corp Marathon, can’t run without his Goodr sunglasses. These no slip, no bounce, polarized shades are inexpensive enough that buying multiple pairs won’t ruin your budget.
These drinkable supplements for a boost of hydration.
Run coach Theodora Blanchfield admits that running isn’t the cheapest sport, but she tries to keep things simple. “People who say running is a cheap sport have never run 26.2 miles,” she says. “I try my best not to overcomplicate things, but it can take a lot to get through a marathon.” Her go-to boost is Nuun Vitamin Drink Tablets, portable tablets that can be dropped into a water bottle for extra vitamins and electrolytes.
And, of course, the ultimate hydration vest.
“When you set out to run any long distance, you need a few key things,” says trail runner Crystal Seaver. “Some are absolutely necessary and others are probably best classified as luxury.” One item that is a constant for her is the Ultimate Direction Race Vest. This breathable, lightweight vest features five pockets and can be customized to fit your body perfectly. Talk about the ultimate race day partner.
A watch that will keep you on track while on the track.
“On race day it is key to have a fully charged running watch to help keep you on pace, especially for those like me who tend to start out too fast,” says avid runner and dad Matthew Orlando. He uses the Garmin Forerunner, a GPS running watch that displays heart rate and allows audio prompts from your smartphone to read out laps and lap times.
A medicine cabinet essential to stop chafing.
Kimberly Shenk, wellness junkie and co-founder of NakedPoppy, has found yet another use for multipurpose Vaseline: She uses it under her armpits to avoid chafing. This trick may just be the ultimate hack of your next training run.
This pack to store all kinds of things, including snacks.
Amy Kristofferson has completed half marathon trail runs with her mom, so she knows a thing or two about being prepared on the go. She doesn’t leave home without a small pack filled with snacks because she knows she’s usually far from a break station when she’s actually hungry. This Amphipod waist pack is super comfortable with its stretch belt, and the pouch allows plenty of storage for food and other necessities.
A natural boost of salt for when the sun is relentless.
A former NCAA division I soccer player, Diane Dunn, knows a thing or two about exertion. Having just completed her sixth marathon, the mother of two and physical therapist uses Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes on sunny race days. “For warmer temp races, taking an electrolyte or salt pill is needed to minimize cramping and to replenish all that you are sweating out,” she says.
A practical pair of leggings to avoid running with a phone in your hand.
When it comes to training, you should always wear what you’re planning to wear on race day. Lululemon’s Time to Sweat Crop pants leggings do the trick, and you’ll never want to take them off. Connecticut native and now San Francisco transplant Allie Joel stores her phone in the side pocket and her apartment keys in the back zipperless pocket. She prefers them in dark, neutral colors like black and navy blue to avoid any unnecessary sweat stains.
The fuel that an NYC Marathon winner swears by.
Shalane Flanagan took first place in the 2017 NYC Marathon and third place in 2018. When she’s not on the track, she’s likely in the kitchen with friend and chef Elyse Kopecky. In their cookbook, “Run Fast. Eat Slow.”, Shalane’s morning race day oatmeal recipe is featured. Along with a cup of coffee, that’s her must-have for race day mornings. “[It] fills up my tank to make sure I can go 26.2,” Flanagan told HuffPost.