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When I first started running, I swore by old cotton t-shirts and basketball shorts. I already owned them and they were comfortable—what more could I want? It turns out, quite a bit. The things about a garment that may not bother you on a two mile run—the rubbing, the sweat wicking, etc.—take on a very different magnitude when you’re hitting the road for four hours straight. Over my nearly 15 years of running (and the past 16 weeks of marathon training) I’ve found a few products that really work for me, so I thought I’d save you the chafing and share them here with you:
Under Armour ColdGear Longsleeve Mock – I am a huge baby when it comes to being cold, and this top has enabled me to continue running comfortably in the cold months. It’s soft, warm and sweat wicking, and it’s great on its own or underneath other layers as temperatures go down. I’ve worn these on every single run since the temperatures went down.
Nike Pro Combat Hyperwarm Tights – When I first started training in the cold I had trouble keeping my lower half warm. Exertion heated my upper body, but even with running tights my legs and butt would be numb within a few minutes! I bought these tights and haven’t had any problems since. Their name says it all.
Under Armour HeatGear Form Solid Tank Top – Fitted but not tight, thin enough to keep you cool but thick enough to avoid showing every bump and bulge, this is my go-to workout top for when it’s warm out or I’m indoors. It doesn’t ride up and doesn’t show sweat—which is perfect because I leave most of my workouts drenched, much to my embarrassment! Now I’m just embarrassed at how many of these are sitting in my workout drawer.
Nike Free Run +2 – Everyone I know who’s tried running in these minimalist shoes has become hooked on them. They feel like a slipper—super comfortable (no nagging tongue!), lightweight and flexible. When I’m wearing them I can really feel the road, so I have a better grip on surfaces and more balance and adaptability on my feet. Bonus: running in them strengthens your foot muscles to protect you from injury. These are the first running shoes I’ve never had to break in – they just FIT.
To me, it was important to invest in good quality items where it counted—i.e. for my shoes and base layer (the mock) or when I was having a problem (like with my cold buns in the tights!). Other items, like hats/headbands, gloves and socks, weren’t as important to me, so I just used whatever I had or bought them from Walmart or the Dollar Store (which works out well considering how easy it is to drop a glove or bleed into a sock!). For jackets, I found that what I already had—a fleece zip-up and a couple longsleeve sweat-wicking workout tops—worked fine.
And finally, if you’re ever running while it’s dark, I highly recommend buying a small clip-on LED strobe light. I have something similar (but couldn’t find it online) and noticed an immediate difference in the way drivers reacted to me while running. Before using it, they either didn’t notice me or didn’t give me any room, and now they seem to not only see me, but are more likely to give me space or yield to me. For $7, it’s hugely helpful, and possibly even life-saving.
What’s your go-to workout gear? I’d love to hear! xo
…err, does the Tuesday after a long weekend still count as a Marathon Monday? I think so. Especially because, welp, I ran 20 miles this weekend. And then drank enough chocolate milk to fill a bathtub. Except not my bathtub, because I was soaking my blisters in it.
It’s a bit strange, running 20 miles. You feel like there should be people cheering you on when you get home, or you should get a medal or at least get to run through finishing line tape with your hands clasped in the air. But really, it was just me and my two running buddies sweating and cursing and singing and playing I Spy to entertain ourselves through the miles.
I made up for the lack of fanfare by buying myself a massage. The masseuse commented on my bruised toes.
For the first time in my life, I’m thankful that I’ve never had a particular affinity for my feet. In fact, I’ve always thought them sort of large. They’re size 9s, unless you’d trust the trained shoe specialists at the local running store, who last week had the nerve to tell me I’m a 10. A 10! A full size larger than every other shoe in my closet! As if I didn’t already have a complex about the length of my toes.
See, if I had been holding on to any sort of vanity for my feet, I’d be highly disappointed right now. You see, there are blisters. Blisters that showed up at the party months ago and are still crashing on my couch. And they’re starting to bring their friends over.
There are bruises—yes, full out bruises!—on my toenails. Perhaps from wearing running shoes that are a size too small.
Thank goodness I never loved my feet before I started marathon training. Because if I had loved them before the blisters and bruises of training, I might not love them as much as I do now, when they’re swollen and scraped and fresh off of carrying me through a 14 mile run.