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What is the Essential Marathon Gear?

By Licia Morrow
Updated May 23, 2024
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Marathons are 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) races that involve walking or running. When planning to participate in a marathon, it is essential to purchase and use the correct marathon gear to avoid injury and discomfort. Items like socks, shoes, clothing, and accessories can make the difference between a marathon run in comfort and one that causes damage and pain to the body.

The first purchase should be appropriate shoes. Many shoes that are fine for walking around the house, office, or neighborhood, are completely inappropriate as marathon gear. It is wise to be professionally fitted by an employee at a store that specializes in sports gear, or more specifically, sports shoes. The employee should measure not only foot size, but should take into account the participant’s foot width and arch. Additionally, participants should alert the shoe professional if there are recurring injuries or problems, like tendinitis or other leg pain. The participant should try on several types of shoes and give them a test run, while the shoe professional observes fit and gait.

Fit is crucially important to this process. Shoes should leave a space between the end of the shoe and the tip of the largest toe, to allow for expansion during exercise. The fit should be snug, and especially should not slip around the heel area. During the training process, shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles (482 to 804 kilometers).

Once the shoes have been acquired, it is time to turn attention to the appropriate socks. While cotton socks can be used for many activities, from running errands to watching television, they should not be used as part of a runner’s marathon gear. Socks should be made of a fabric that wicks away moisture, in order to avoid blistering. Synthetic fibers like acrylic or nylon, or a blend of natural and synthetic fibers is best. Socks that are padded in the heel and toe are ideal for walkers and runners. Additionally, check the toes of the socks to make sure there are no seams that will rub against toes and the sides of feet and result in blisters.

Appropriate clothing, like shoes and socks, is an important part of a participant’s marathon gear. It is necessary to acquire the appropriate clothing to avoid restrictive fit and other types of discomfort. Shirts and sports bras made of a wicking material will help to keep moisture at a minimum and avoid chafing. Shorts or pants should be worn for comfort and should not ride up or chafe in the leg area. At some events, the weather is cold, so it is important that this part of a walker or runner’s marathon gear can be layered for differing temperatures.

Water dispensers are an essential part of marathon gear and keep walkers and runners from becoming dehydrated. Many sports stores offer a wide range of water carrying systems from backpacks to belts. It is important to take into account how many marathon miles will be completed each day and what the water requirements might be. Additionally, it is important to train with a water carrying system to test it for convenience and usability.

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