Your first marathon will be one of the biggest days of your life! Haven’t you prepared an outfit yet? In all seriousness, a couple of months beforehand is a good time to ‘break new kit in’ – particularly shoes. A well thought out outfit will make you feel good at the start of the race and hopefully at the end of the race too. Here’s a rundown from top to bottom:
If it’s sunny, I wear a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. If it’s raining, I wear a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes. If it’s hot, I wear a hat to keep the sweat out of my eyes. My eyes are very sensitive! The last thing you want is to worry about on race day is any of these little discomforts which could easily be avoided. There are some really good lightweight hats around or if you don’t like hats, maybe you could wear a visor.
If you’re running for a charity, now is the time to contact them and ask for a vest. Plenty of people run marathons in April so the chances are they’ll be inundated with requests close to race day – so get yours in first before they run out! Size is important too; if your vest is too loose it could chafe. However, you want it to be loose enough to wear a thin top underneath if the weather isn’t particularly warm. If you’re buying your own vest, find one without seams and that will further reduce the risk of chafing.
Under Your Vest
I’ve run the London Marathon twice – one year I got a lovely tan, the following year it was the coldest London Marathon on record and the wettest London Marathon on record – I haven’t been back since! British weather is notoriously unpredictable. Who knows what it will be like in April? You need to prepare for every eventuality – invest (no pun intended) in a long sleeved thermal top, a short sleeved thermal top, a long sleeved technical top and a short sleeved technical top. At some point during your training try each of them out, then pack them all in your race bag. Men – pack some Vaseline in your bag. Your nipples will thank you. Or they would if they had mouths, which is a very weird thought.
Over Your Vest
If you haven’t already got one, a lightweight, breathable, waterproof running jacket is a good investment. Picture yourself on the start line with the rain hammering down on your t-shirt. Now picture yourself with the rain hammering down on your waterproof jacket with the hood up: it’s a slightly better thought, isn’t it? If you can get one which you can pack up and tie around your waist later on – in the event of the sun making an appearance – that’d be a good idea.
When I’ve run small races I’ve often taken a jacket or hoodie I can throw at my wife a couple of minutes before the gun. In big city marathons you don’t get the chance to do this, so the bin-bag-jacket will rescue you – because throwing your clothes at random people and asking them to meet you at the finish rarely works, particularly if they are also running the race. Cut a hole for your head in the bottom of the bin bag and a hole for each of your arms and you have a makeshift jacket you can throw at a lucky marshal when the race gets underway.
If you’ve been running in tights through the winter, consider that you could be wearing shorts again in the spring. You may have lost weight through all your fantastic, calorie burning, training. Do your shorts still fit?
Anti-blister socks are the best present you can buy your feet. I particularly love the More Mile ones, which also contain a little extra padding under the soles – bliss.
Think of how many miles you have left in your training plan and remember that the most you can generally get out of a pair running shoes is 500 miles. (This is why The Proclaimers walked 500 miles and then 500 more – they had to buy shoes halfway through.) Will you need to invest in a new pair before race day? Don’t leave it any later than a month beforehand to buy the shoes you’re going to wear in the marathon. Even if you buy the exact same pair, you’ll still need to break them in because the insides and soles of your old shoes will have worn away. As tempting as it is to save £50 by shopping in Hyper Value, go to a specialist running shop where they can analyse your gait and recommend the best shoes for you.
Hats keep sweat, hair and the weather out of your eyes.
The British weather is unpredictable, prepare outfits for every eventuality.
Vaseline, seamless clothes and anti blister socks are your anti-chafing pals.
Buy a range of race day gear and try each out on long runs. Even if it’s cold you can still try out a vest under your warmer clothes.
Contact your chosen charity for a vest as soon as you finish reading this blog – a cool snap of you running an early-spring half marathon in it makes a great photo for your justgiving page.
Will your trainers have done 500 miles by the time you get to the end of the marathon? If the answer is “yes“ get yourself down to a reputable running shop.