The marathon training process is all about experimentation, preparation, and planning. From choosing a training plan, planning running routes, and experimenting with fueling, it can be difficult to keep track of everything. For myself, I found it important to keep track of what I’ve tried and how it worked for me.
Shoes are one of the most important pieces of the marathon equation. I wanted to make sure I had a pair of shoes that would be comfortable throughout training and race day, but weren’t worn out from too many miles. In February, I purchased a new pair of shoes, intending for them to be my marathon pair. To make sure I was wearing the right pair, I got refitted at a running store, even though my last three pairs had been Brooks Glycerin. Again, it was determined that Glycerin was the right shoe for me, but in a half-size bigger to accommodate foot swelling during distance running. I’ve been very happy with this choice and will be wearing these for my 23 mile training run next weekend and the race itself. I have found, however, that the bigger shoes cannot be worn for speed work because my foot slides around too much and creates a blister in the arch. So, the larger shoes are distance only and my smaller shoes are for speed.
Next, it was important that I figure out my fueling. There are a ton of options on the market, so it really is about personal preference and what works for each individual. The amount of fuel intake while running is also very different per person, so it’s vitally important to experiment with this during training runs.
I knew from my previous use of SportBeans that I’m not a big fan of chewing food while running, so I wasn’t going to be trying Shot Bloks or dates. I decided to start trying different energy gels. I tried many different flavors and brands – Gu, Powergel, Hammer, Honey Stinger, and Gu Roctane – but settled on Accel Gel. I found that I prefer a thinner consistency that I could drink, rather than chew or have to rely on availability of water to get down. Of everything I’ve tried, Accel Gels have the thinnest consistency with flavors I enjoy. I ordered a case of Strawberry Kiwi and a case of Citrus Orange to finish out my training cycle and the marathon.
In order to keep track of all of my fueling trials, I used a Google docs spreadsheet to track the brand, flavor, thoughts about the gel, and whether I’d use it again. As I narrowed down my favorites, I ranked the top few so that there wasn’t any guesswork as I got closer to marathon day. Nerdy, perhaps, but crucial in remembering what worked best for me.
For hydration, I carry a Nathan QuickDraw handheld water bottle. I like the zippered pouch that I can carry gels in, or store empty gels in until I reach the next trash can. I can generally get by with just the water in this bottle for approximately 12 miles before needing to refill and since we’ve been doing loops that return to our cars and/or a water fountain during training, it’s worked great. During the race, I plan on carrying my bottle with me for use between water stations so that I will never be out of water.
For carrying my gels, phone, and keys, I use a Fitletic Ultimate II running belt. This belt has a large zippered pouch, five elastic loops for carrying gels, a small velcro pouch, elastic bib loops and a key clip. It also has the option to purchase add-on water bottles, should I ever feel the need to. I appreciate that this belt offers options to use the same belt with or without hydration bottles.
For training runs, I typically put a gel in each elastic loop, my phone and keys in the zippered pouch, Chapstick and sticks of gum in the velcro pouch, and clip my iPod and/or Gymboss interval timer to the thin part of the belt. Everything is easily accessible, yet stays put. As long as I sit the pouch just beneath my hip bones, everything stays in place. I bought this belt at the Twin Cities Marathon Expo and absolutely love it.
The other two pieces of gear I wear for all of my runs are my Fitbit Charge HR and my Soleus Fit 1.0 GPS watch. While I’d like one device that counts steps, has a wrist-based heart rate monitor, uses GPS, and counts calorie burn, I haven’t upgraded yet. I wear one device on each wrist.
For clothing, I’ve decided will wear Danskin capris from Walmart, and a Moms on the Run t-shirt or tank top. Final clothing decisions will be weather-based, but I have an idea of what I’ll wear for all potential weather conditions.
Lastly, I’ll also be using my EventClips to attach my race bib to the front of my shirt. I’m a big fan of these because they don’t create holes and runs in race gear. After removal, they leave a small bump in the cloth that disappears when the garment is washed. Note that these come from the UK, so they generally take a week to arrive after ordering.
I think that sums up what I’m planning to wear for my marathon. If you have questions, feel free to comment below!