What you wear on race day is nearly as important as how much you train. Not because you need to look stylish and cute on race day (although of course that is a consideration given how many pictures we’ll be taking!), but because the wrong race clothes can potentially cause a lot of pain and the right race clothes can get you to the finish line faster. Here’s what I look for in my race gear:
- Comfortable – Avoid shorts that ride up when you run, tank tops that pull at your shoulders and heavy fuel belts. I ran my first half marathon in a pair of shorts that rode up my butt when I ran more than a few minutes so I spent the entire race adjusting them.
- Dri–Fit – I also ran a few of my first races in a cotton tank top. Although it didn’t necessarily bother me, dri-fit clothing is much more practical, especially if the race is on a hot day. Dri-fit clothing wicks moisture off of your skin so that you stay cool and dry. I also wear dri-fit socks which are probably more important than a dri-fit shirt because these socks reduce blistering and keep your feet nice and cool.
- Worn–In- This is probably the most important thing to consider– don’t wear new clothes on race day! Never purchase and wear running shoes that you bought just a week or two before the race (my running coach always tells the story of the guy who wore new running shoes on race day and had to drop out due to blisters). Test out your complete marathon day outfit on one of your long runs – from your tank top to your sports bra to your underwear to your socks!
- Useful – Any race over an hour requires some sort of fuel to be consumed on the race course. I plan to be on the marathon course for at least 4 hours. I will need 150-200 calories per hour after the first 45 minutes of running, meaning that I’ll need to carry at least 5 Gus with me on race day. During half marathons the pockets in my shorts and/or tank top will suffice, but for a race like a marathon, I had to purchase a small pouch that I strap around my waist (no it is NOT a fanny pack).
- Helpful –This is similar to useful. I have been using a Garmin GPS watch to help me train for races for about a year now. I LOVE having something to track my pace, mile splits and overall time (I admit I’m a little addicted). It also is helpful to race with a Garmin because you know your exact pace at all times and don’t have to do difficult math at each mile marker (race inner dialogue: let’s see, the race clock says it’s been 28 minutes 30 seconds and I’m at mile 3, so that’d be a 9:30 pace, but I also didn’t start at the gun time so subtract 2 minutes…. what pace is that?!)
- Practical – I always wear a hat on my day time runs. Why? Because I don’t want to end up a wrinkly old woman when I’m 50 years old – or worse, a dead 50 year old because I contracted skin cancer. Hats protect your face from the sun better than sunscreen can. Although I do wear SPF 50 on my face as well. Sunscreen is yet another practical race-gear must-have. I slather my entire body with SPF 30 or more before every run, even if it’s 6:30 a.m. and gloomy.
- Attractive – Make sure you actually like your race gear. You’re going to be taking a lot of pictures and we all want to look good! Plus, you’ll be more confident while you run if you know you look fabulous! This doesn’t apply for running shoes – always buy the most comfortable running shoes, never the ones that are the cutest. I made this mistake once and ended up wearing very old shoes on race day because my “cute” shoes didn’t fit right.
My Race Day Gear: