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Running Gear for Long Distance Training and Marathon Race Day


WRITTEN BY: Sports Medicine
Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

The right marathon training and race-day running gear can help you feel well-suited to get the most out of each mile. It’s important to select training gear that fits you well. The proper outfit, in the right material, can help you stay at an optimal body temperature while running.

Our experts at UPMC Sports Medicine share tips on how to dress for marathon training and race day.

RELATED: Ready for Race Day: The Complete Marathon Checklist

Training Gear

While Buying

Wearing the right materials while running can make a big difference in how you feel and perform during your run. Our experts recommend moisture-wicking materials, usually polyesters, synthetics, or poly-blends. These materials can help keep you dry and minimize your risk of chafing. Although sometimes a more costly choice, having at least two long sleeve and two short sleeve moisture-wicking shirts in your running closet will help you on runs.

When it gets cold, your first thought may be to put on fleece sweatshirts and pants. Fleece-lined running clothes can help keep you warm in temperatures of 10° F and below, but will not wick away moisture as well as polyester and blended synthetics. To stay dry in the winter months, wear fleece clothing over top of a moisture-wicking base layer.

Cotton is generally the least preferred option for running clothing. As opposed to moisture-wicking materials, cotton will not breathe with you as you run. It also can hold your sweat in causing your clothes to stick to your body and make you feel weighed down.

While Trying

A general rule of shopping for running clothes is to always try on your clothing before buying. Since you will be wearing your running gear for long periods of time, it is important to make sure you are comfortable in your clothing. The training period can be long and strenuous so you should look for comfortable yet durable pieces that will last throughout the miles.

When trying on marathon grear, focus on fit as opposed to thickness of the clothing item. If shopping for running in cold climates, form-fitting clothing can help reduce the amount of cold air in between your layers keep you warmer. If shopping in warmer climates where you may need some air, consider choosing:

  • Looser clothing
  • Shorts
  • Tank tops
  • Short-sleeved shirts

While Dressing

Your training plan and climate can bring you indoors and outdoors for runs, but remember to use the 20—degree rule when getting ready. Dress as if it is twenty degrees warmer than it will be outside or in your workout space to simulate what it will feel like when you are actually running.

Especially with changing weather, run in thin layers. When layering, choose a form fitting moisture wicking base layer with a shell over top. Dressing in layers is more efficient than just one thick, heavy layer. If you are worried about rain or other precipitation, consider a nylon, water-repelling jacket and pants.

While Washing

Wash your moisture-wicking clothes on the delicate cycle in cold water and let them hang dry. The moisture wicking fabrics will be dry in three to four hours and ready for your next run.

RELATED: How to Find Marathon Running Shoes

Race Day Gear

The “nothing new on race day” running motto also applies to your gear. While it may be tempting to dress in a brand new workout outfit or even a race t-shirt, think about the potential discomfort of running double-digit miles with wardrobe discomfort.

Once you think you have identified your race day outfit, wear it on a longer run to test how it holds up to running conditions. Make sure all of your apparel — especially garments under — properly fit your body and work together to keep you comfortable.

As with training gear, dress as if the temperature is 20 — degrees warmer than expected on race day. Because it will likely get warmer and lighter as the day goes on, accessorize your running outfit with easily removable layers like:

  • Arm warmers
  • Long sleeve shirt over a short sleeve or tank top
  • Gloves
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses

Because you may be removing these items, be sure they are either inexpensive so you don’t mind losing them, or tossed to a supporter so you can pick them up later.

To learn more about common running injuries and marathon preparation, call 1-855-93-SPORTS(77678) or check out UPMC Sports Medicine’s marathon resources.

What do you wear while running? Do you follow the 20-degree rule?

Sports Medicine

UPMC Sports Medicine is the region’s largest and most experienced program dedicated to treating, training, and inspiring athletes at levels, in all sports. Our physicians, surgeons, physical therapists, athletic trainers, sports nutrition, and sports performance experts are dedicated to helping athletes and active people recover from injuries, and even prevent them. Read More