You’ve put months of hard training into preparing for a marathon and you’re just a few days away from stepping up to the starting line. You want to ensure everything is in place to help you breeze the 26.2 miles in record time. Just as important as your training regime is what you pack into your bag on the day of the race itself. You might also want to test out your kit on a few runs before D-day if you haven't done that yet. Here’s our essential guide on what you need to bring with you.
Running shoes and insoles
It sounds obvious, but don’t forget your running shoes. To tackle the marathon, run in the shoes you’ve been training with rather than brand new ones. They’ll be ‘broken in’ – adapted to your feet, they won’t rub uncomfortably like new shoes would. Pair them with insoles, which will reduce the pressure felt on your lower limbs and will help you keep that spring in your step.
If you’re still in training and want to make sure that you’ve got the correct type of trainers for a marathon, read our previous article on what foot type you are and how to choose footwear to match.
You’ll need different clothes for before and after, as well as the race itself. Loose, comfortable clothing worn over the top of your running gear will keep your muscles from getting cold and stiffening before heading off, and will help you to ease back into recovery once the race is over.
As for what to wear whilst running, your kit should match the conditions. If you’re running in the heat, lightweight, breathable clothing is fundamental. Running in colder or wetter weather, on the other hand, calls for layering. Bear in mind though – these also need to allow air to flow around your body as you warm up. As with your footwear, it's recommended not to wear new running gear. If you've never worn it over a significant mileage you don't know what's going to rub where!
Chaffing can be incredibly uncomfortable when you’re a few miles into a race. It commonly occurs around the inner thighs and underarms, leaving you with red raw skin. To avoid rubbing, pack a tub of Bag Balm/Vaseline and apply before starting off. Designed to prevent a cow’s udders from becoming sore, it’ll keep you rash-free for the duration of the race.
Other common areas for rubbing during long-distance runs are the nipples and backs of the ankles. Bring along some plasters or surgical tape to apply to these areas before the marathon. You won’t feel any friction from your vest or socks, leaving you in the best frame of mind to whittle down the miles.
For a lot of people, just finishing a marathon is a huge achievement. For others, registering a specific time is the name of the game. GPS trackers give you a breakdown of your run after you’ve finished, showing your route and overall time as well as how your pace changed over the course. All this data can be pored over when you’re recovering so you know how to improve for the next marathon.
In terms of the tech, reliable GPS for running comes in various forms. Whilst you could use your phone and special holder, we’d advise using something less clunky. A GPS tracker pill can slip into specially designed pouches in your clothing or shoes. Alternatively, most quality running watches will include a GPS function.
Most marathon runners will burn through approximately 2,600 calories during a race – roughly the recommended daily intake for adult males. To replenish this expended energy, as well as top up on essential salts and electrolytes, having a post-run snack to hand is very important. Carb-rich foods are recommended soon after finishing – bananas, energy bars, and peanut-butter bagels are all ideal.
Taking on a marathon is a significant challenge. Good preparation is key to making sure you cross the finish line, but packing the right kit on the day will also help you along. When you’re preparing your kit the night before, run through this handy marathon prep list so you don’t leave anything out.