MARATHON KIT LIST

Getting ready to run your first marathon is exciting, but with keeping up with your training schedule, race day admin and planning your journey to your event, we know there’s a lot to think about to be fully prepped for the big day. To help you out, we've put together this marathon kit list, which covers everything you need to pack, so that you can focus on getting out there, having fun and running at your best.


Shoes

Comfortable running shoes are a must for your marathon run. Whether you’re planning to run in your old favourites or have a lighter-weight pair that you use mainly for races, it’s essential they're comfortable and fit you well. The day of your first marathon is not the day to be testing out new running shoes!

If you’re planning to get a pair of race day shoes, we recommend getting them at least two weeks before your event to ensure you have enough time to bed them in. At Runners Need, we offer a free gait analysis service to ensure you get the best fit for how you run. Discover your nearest store and book an appointment today.

Once you’ve finished your race, you’ll want to be out of our running shoes pretty quickly, so it’s a good idea to pack some comfy shoes in your bag. Flip flops are a great option as they allow your feet to breathe and won’t rub on any sore areas or blisters that have developed. We love the range from Oofos, which has been designed to aid recovery from repeated workouts on hard surfaces. 

Socks

Socks can often get overlooked, but finding the right pair is a must once you start upping the mileage. When it comes to running, cotton socks are a big no. Cotton traps water and holds it against your skin which can increase friction and cause blisters and sores. Instead, look for socks made from synthetic materials designed to wick away moisture and be breathable.

Other things to look out for are seamless construction, which will help prevent chafing, compression socks, which can help boost blood circulation and reduce fatigue, and cushioning to help provide some additional comfort.

Clothing

For your marathon run, you need lightweight, breathable clothing that’s comfortable. You may have noticed that even on cooler days, most racers opt for shorts and a t-shirt or vest because once moving, you warm up quickly, so bear that in mind when choosing what to wear.

You also need to consider your underwear, as it can make a huge difference to the amount of chafing you experience when running longer distances. Like with socks, you should avoid cotton and instead look for moisture-wicking fabrics, like merino or synthetic materials, which are breathable and wick away moisture to help keep you dry and comfortable. But, the most important thing is to make sure your underwear fits you well and provides the support you need.

Post-race, you’ll want some comfortable and warm clothing to change into. A long-sleeved t-shirt or jumper and a pair of leggings are a must on cooler days as once you stop moving, you’ll soon cool down. It’s also a good idea to pack a lightweight waterproof that you can throw on if the weather takes a turn for the worse while you’re waiting for fellow runners to come in. Don’t forget to pack some spare underwear and socks too.

Nutrition

When it comes to nutrition, everyone has their own approach as to what works best for them. If you’ve been training with energy gels or bars, it’s a good idea to carry these with you come race day. Don’t forget to pack your race belt or armband to carry them, so you can use them as needed throughout the race.

If you haven’t been using energy gels or bars throughout your training, it’s best not to introduce them on race day. Instead, you could opt for some simple electrolytes, which you can add to your water post-run to help you recover vital salts lost through sweat.

You may also want to think about your post-recovery nutrition. Seasoned runners recommend having a nutritious snack 20 to 30 minutes after your race to aid muscle recovery. 

Top tip: With nutrition, stick to what you know, as you don’t want to upset your stomach when you’ve got miles left to run.

Hydration

At marathon events, there’s no need to carry water as there are plenty of hydration stations set up on your route. However, if you prefer carrying your own water and want to avoid slowing your pace, you can invest in purpose-built water bottles which are easier to carry on the go.

You may also want to consider a hydration pack, which can be worn on a hydration vest and allow you to carry around three litres of water. They can be really useful during training runs when you may not have access to water on your route.

Sun Protection

It’s a good idea to slap on some sunscreen before starting your race, as even on dull days when you’re out running for three plus hours, the sun can make an appearance.

Other items you may want to consider packing are caps and sunglasses. A cap not only protects your head from the sun's rays, but it can also help shield your eyes. With sunglasses, opt for running-specific models with anti-slip features that will stay put while you’re on the move.

Smartwatch

The beauty of any marathon event is that they will track your time for you, so there’s no need to wear your watch to keep an eye on what time you cross the finish line. However, a smartwatch can be useful on your first few marathons to help you keep track of your pace. It’s easy to set off at your normal tempo before discovering several miles in that you're running too quickly and that fatigue is already setting in. By wearing a watch, you can keep an eye on your pace and slow things down if needed to ensure you have plenty of energy left to finish the race.

Top tip: Most marathons runners run marathons at a slightly slower pace than their best 

Headphones

If you like to listen to music or podcasts when running, you’ll want to pack your headphones. However, bear in mind that at many events, the use of headphones is restricted to ensure your safety. If in doubt, check with the race marshals on the day and always follow their advice.

Even if you can’t listen to your favourite tracks as you run, you may find that sticking your headphones in and taking a minute to yourself may be just what you need before or after the race. 

Added Extras

As well as packing all of the above, it’s a good idea to make room in your bag for some little extras:

Safety pins – Although most race organisers will provide safety pins, it’s never a bad idea to carry your own, so you can make sure your race number is attached securely.

Support and taping – If you’re running on an old injury, or have noticed any twinges during your training, make sure  you have the necessary support or taping you need for race day.

Plasters – After running 26 miles, you’re going to have at least one or two sore spots, if not some blisters on your feet. Make sure you’re prepared and enjoy a more comfortable journey home by packing some blister plasters.

Chafe balm – It’s also a good idea to carry some chafe balm or similar lubricant to prevent sores on areas prone to rubbing. Lather up before the race and re-apply after your post-race shower to ensure that your sores heal as quickly as possible.

Wash bag and towel – There’s nothing better than taking a well-deserved shower and freshening up after a marathon, so make sure you pack your shower gel and a towel.

Post-run recovery – Treat yourself to some serious post-run pampering and pack your massage gun or roller for instant relief for tired muscles.


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