Tips on Running Gear & Shoes From a First-Time Marathon Runner
One of our lovely Onetrack Club runners has been kind enough to share their first marathon experience with us. We've broken down all his valuable insider tips into two parts: Part 1 covers advice, recommendations and feedback on running gear & shoes, and Part 2 will cover tech & tips.
We love hearing the thoughts and processes that go into training for an event (of any distance!), and of course, it's always interesting to hear how the big day went. Everyone's marathon is unique, but it can be helpful to hear how other runners train and experience the day to help better understand and reflect on our own experience.
Have a read and let us know what you think, how does your experience compare? Do you have any tips you'd like to share with us?
A Onetracker’s Marathon Notes:
Rather than advice or recommendations, this is a summary of my findings through my marathon journey, I’ve included a few links which will hopefully save some time or help progress something you’ve been thinking about. Everyone’s journey is a personal one so what worked for me might not work for you but I hope something does.
NB: I have no affiliation or commercial relationship with any of these products or websites. I also have no professional qualifications so any information is subjective and should be researched independently (or run by Fletch!).
Over the years I’ve run in Asics, Nike and Adidas but most recently I’d been using Adidas Ultraboost. As a mid-foot striker over longer distance I’d been told a lower foot drop might suit my running style so went looking. Personally I found the On Cloud Flow gave a consistent response through long runs and most notably, as I got tired and my form deteriorated I found they gave a feeling of cushioning and spring which I definitely appreciated on tired legs and hadn’t had in other shoes. The two negatives were grip can be poor in wet urban conditions and I wouldn’t use them on a frosty morning run whereas the Adidas with their Continental grip definitely hold up.
The other slatted ‘cloud’ design can pick up pebbles and I actually had to stop in my marathon to clear one out. Whichever shoe you go for, budget to buy a second pair a few weeks out as consensus is it’s best to run a marathon in a pair of shoes with less than 100 miles run on them.
My perception of shoes for track and speed work was that they should be lighter and have less cushioning ‘to feel the track’. This is probably true if you’re competing but I found during my early track sessions that I was starting to have shin issues which could have undermined my whole training program (worth noting we run on a hard track). As soon as that started happening I reverted to heavily cushioned Adidas Ultraboost to protect myself, let’s face it I had nothing to prove on the track and was much happier in the sessions feeling protected.
Between speed sessions, long runs, recovery and treadmill work I was rotating 3 pairs of shoes and actually enjoyed the different feel of each as I switched between.
Whatever shoes you’re thinking about they all have an extra pair of lace holes that seem too high up to use but they do have a purpose and it’s a very good one. The primary function is to stop your heel slipping to prevent blisters. Even though I’ve never really had issues with blisters they made my shoes feel much more secure, almost like an extension of my legs and every foot strike felt much firmer once I’d set these up, so an easy win. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXjOLWgWq9k
The reality of long-distance running is there’s a lot of repetition and repetition means chaffing which is a painful distraction. I tried non-chafing short models with liners from Adidas and Nike but found that neither prevented discomfort for me. Lululemon ended up being the brand that I settled on for shorts and vests. They are eye-wateringly expensive (~£60) but are great quality gear and my body was grateful to me finding a pair that reduced this particular ailment. They also have good pockets, although I’m not convinced by the phone pocket attached to your thigh, ok for a backup snack though.
After reading reviews I went for a stick of Body which I found worked very well throughout my training and minimized issues in the marathon which ended up being a hot day.
Running Belt (hydration/nutrition)
I like to feel free when I’m running so hate carrying a bottle, wearing a backpack or feeling a bottle in a poorly designed holder bounce around while I run. After a lot of research, I found the Nathan VaporKrar is a really comfortable and minimalist running belt with a soft bottle which doesn’t bounce while running. As well as the bottle it has a front pocket big enough for a large phone and two side pockets for nutrition. Two weaknesses are no clear key pocket and the Velcro on the bottle pocket isn’t substantial enough so when the bottle is completely full it can pop out. As you start drinking the fit gets snugger and the pull chords to tighten it are easy to tighten even while you’re running so for most training runs it’s not an issue.
Tips & Tech
If you'd like to know more about the tech side of things (watches, headphones, navigation etc), head over to Part 2 - Tips & Tech here.
Thank you to our anonymous Onetrack Club runner for sharing their first marathon experience with us.