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AMR Gears Up: Race Day Essentials: Marathon

marathon gear

Welcome to a new series on Another Mother Runner: Race Day Essentials.

Over the course of the next two weeks, we'll showcase favorite gear from a range of athletes for the 5K/10K; half marathon; marathon; ultra (50K/50 mile); sprint triathlon; and relay.

Tish Hamilton is currently training for her 56th marathon, so she knows a thing or two about important marathon gear. Here's the stuff she won't go 26.2 without:

TOP: NEW BALANCE 2018 NYC MARATHON HALF-ZIP ($30) and NON-NYC VERSION ($65)

I didn’t buy marathon race gear in my early marathon days (1990s) because it was too extravagant for a recent college grad on a publishing salary, and the offerings were too seriously geeky anyway. These days race gear is still expensive, but it’s so sweetly stylin’ that I couldn't resist at 2018 New York City marathon. This silky soft New Balance half-zip was perfect to wear for my following race, the slightly chilly 2019 Paris Marathon. Plus, vibrant contrast stripes made it super easy for my people to spot me in field of 50,000+ runners. (Non-NYC version here.)

[[GOING 26.2? TRAIN LIKE A MOTHER WITH OUR MARATHON TRAINING PROGRAMS.]]

marathon gear

PRE-RACE GEAR: NEW YORK CITY 1990 VINTAGE T-SHIRT ($20)

Over the years, I’ve lost many race Ts to Marie Kondo-esque fits of de-cluttering. Glad I still have this vintage cotton New York City marathon T to wear around the house in the weeks leading up to the race in November. Look closely, you can see the Twin Towers at the top. Sniff!

[[DON'T FORGET A THING: YOUR OWN MARATHON GEAR CHECKLIST.]] 

marathon gearPOST-RACE GEAR: PATAGONIA DOWN SWEATER ($229)

Single most important piece of gear stuffed into post-race backpack: down jacket. If I don’t get warm as soon as I cross the finish line, my core temperature plummets, and my clammy sports bra sends me into a hypothermic fit that lasts until I get home to a long hot shower. Wriggling out of wet sports bra under big cotton T is also key.

marathon gear

ACCESSORIES: SMARTWOOL BEANIE ($21) AND LULULEMON CROSS-CHILL RUN GLOVES ($38)

I love this thin Smartwool beanie for any temp below 50 (it also fits well under bike helmet). It truly keeps you warm without overheating; bonus slots for sunglasses (if you wear them) and ponytail (if you have one). Kathrine Switzer herself—that’s right, the pioneer who snuck into the 1972 Boston Marathon—advised me to always wear gloves on race day: tuck them into your waistband when you warm up, put them back on when you get cold again, because you WILL get cold again, she said. Lululemon's has a nice stripe of reflectivity for early morning training runs.

BONUS ACCESSORY: PARIS BACKPACK

You’re never supposed to try anything new on race day. The Paris Marathon doesn’t serve sports drink on course. WHAT? Instead, they give you a hydration backpack as part of your race kit. On the morning of the marathon, as I was trying to stuff gloves, hat and Endurolytes into the side pockets of my shorts and figure out how to run carrying two bottles of sports drink, BF Rick said, “Why don’t you just run with this pack?” WHAT? As much as it pains me to say this, Rick was right. I ran with the backpack.marathon gear

SHOES + SOCKS: NEW BALANCE 860V9 ($125) AND BALEGA HIDDEN CONTOUR RUNNING SOCK ($14)

Fresh running shoes at the beginning of a marathon training cycle are just downright motivating. I go to my local shoe shop—The Sneaker Factory—and geek out with the manager over lasts, midsoles and dual-density medial posts and usually buy two pair to last me through a year. I am brand agnostic—whatever fits my foot and feels good. Right now New Balance’s  860v9 suits me fine: cushy underfoot, with a touch of stability and a nice wide toe box for my bunions. (The new 860v10 is sleeker, less cushy.) If I were rich and unconscionable, I’d wear a brand new pair of Balega socks on every run.


SHORTS + SALT: LULULEMON FAST AND FREE 6'' SHORT ($68) AND HAMMER NUTRITION ENDUROLYTES ($23)

How did we ever live without side pockets on shorts, capris, tights? For the phone (though I don’t take mine on race day), gloves, snacks, whatever. I splurged on Lululemon's 6-inch length and high waistband to hold in the menopot. I bring enough Endurolytes (to replace electrolytes) in a baggie to take one every half-hour of the marathon.

marathon gear SNACKS FOR THE BUS

Logistics for the New York City Marathon are epic: You get on a bus to the start around 7 for a race that doesn’t start until 11 (depending on your wave). That’s a lot of hours. My race morning nutrition looks like this: two cups of coffee, one or two small bagels with peanut (or cashew) butter, a clementine or two, and animal crackers. My DIY “sports drink” is honey green tea with a pinch of Himalayan salt. It sounds like a lot, but think about how much you usually eat by 3:00 without even running 26.2.

[[NEW ON-DEMAND PROGRAM: NUTRITION FOR RUNNING: HALF MARATHON + MARATHON]]

SPORTS BRA: TASC NOLA REVERSIBLE SPORTS BRA ($36)

I am extra-small on top, so support isn’t really my issue. This fun-patterned Tasc NOLA reversible sports bra made with bamboo (!) has seen me through many long runs, a few marathons, and one ultra without once chafing me anywhere. Plus, I can wriggle out of it post-race underneath a big cotton T. 'Nuff said.

GPS: GARMIN FORERUNNER 235 ($250)

In November, the New York City Marathon will be my 56th marathon, and I only just got a Garmin this past March (the 235 Forerunner, to be precise). Talk about your lug-headed Luddite! Now, of course, I’m addicted to it all: the Resting Heart Rate, the number of steps, the pace, the “moving” pace, the totals, the alarm, max heart rate, calories burned, etc. etc. Which is kinda why I never wanted to get one in the first place.

[[OUI OUI: TISH RUNS THE PARIS MARATHON.]]

RETRO TUNES: THE iPOD

Remember iPods? If you still have one, hold it to admire how tiny and handy they were. Whether I listen to tunes during a marathon depends on how I’m feeling about training and Life. The lower and/or less fit I am, the more necessary the tunes become.

My playlist is full of angry Alanis Morissette and dreamy Eddie Vedder, but that may be a little too personal even for AMR. 🙂 I try to wait until the last 10 miles or 10K and then crank up the sound to grind through the hardest parts. (I'm pretty sure there's a Life metaphor in there somewhere.) It works!

Ok, marathoners: What gear goes 26.2 with you?

3 responses to “AMR Gears Up: Race Day Essentials: Marathon

  1. Great list! I just started my own marathon packing list for next month and see a few things I am missing. 🙂 One thing re: tunes, I have been running without for the better part of this training cycle and for the first time am not planning to curate a 5+ hour playlist (hopefully it’s less than that!). Instead I will tweak my spring half playlist and turn on for the last half or 10k of the race!

  2. Thanks for the list. I’m making my packing list for the light at the end of the tunnel marathon on Sunday. I’m thinking an emergency rain poncho will be good for waiting at the start

  3. Gah thanks Tish! Had to “race” over and buy this super cute NB pullover for my upcoming TC 10 Miler! The stripes are so cute and my spouse will be able to pick me out of the crowd…at least I HOPE there’s still a crowd by the time I finish! 🙂

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