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Marathon must-haves: Top picks for race day and beyond
Preparing to run those daunting 26.2 miles in an upcoming marathon? Searching for anything that might give you an edge and make the race even just the slightest bit easier?
We spoke to Dejan Popovic, the marketing director for Runner’s Edge in Farmingdale, about some customer favorites and a few of their own picks for pre-race and race day swag.
The obvious place to start, Popvic said, is shoes.
The latest trend for race day is “wearing something like a lightweight trainer, which can give you some of the stability while still being super light,” Popovic explained.
That’s not to say that traditional, “heavier” shoes don’t still have a place in the sport, according to Popovic. Most people "have a training, an everyday training shoe, which is going to be a little bit heavier more supportive, a little more material all around.”
With different shoes for different runners, Popovic highlighted the top three soles for both men and women.
ASICS Gel GT-2000 - $120 online/in-store - "A good supportive shoe."
Saucony Ride - $110 online/in-store - "Neutral shoe, no arch-support, good cushioning."
Saucony ProGrid Kinvara - $100 online/in-store - "Super light, with some cushioning, lower in the heel -- this promotes more natural running, so that you’re landing in the mid-foot and forefoot," says Popovic. "A much more performance driven shoe."
Brooks adrenaline GT 13 - $110 online/in-store - "This is a good supportive shoe," says Popovic adding that the model is very popular at the Farmingdale store.
Nike Structure Triax - $110 in-store - "A good, supportive shoe."
Nike 3.0 - $100 in-store - Popovic warns that runners, "should be cautious of wearing this pair for both training and race day as it does not offer much protection and has a very low heel."
Popovic’s pick for race day whether you’re a man or woman? A lighter, more performance driven shoe that’s a bit more breathable.
Popovic suggests that runners sample gels, gus, gel blocks, energy bars and drinks before race day to see how they make you feel. This way, he says, by the time you get to the marathon you’ll have your own “formula” figured out.
Gus and gels are products that you put into your mouth and wash down with water -- these break up very easily once ingested. Using these products helps to “get the nutrition you need while you’re running,” Popovic said.
He also added that these are good items to have on hand mid-run, especially if you’re going anywhere from a half-hour or more on a run, when you’ll want to get some nutrition in and keep your energy levels up.
For any solid nutrition like protein and energy bars, Popovic suggests eating approximately a half-hour to 45 minutes before you run. These items are good to take beforehand so that you’re not running on an empty stomach.
Popovic also recommends recovery drinks and powders to be taken after a workout to recover and replenish some of the electrolytes lost during your run.
For a spring marathon, like the Long Island Marathon coming up in May, Popovic says, attire will depend on the day's weather -- “base layers if it’s cold that will be snug to your body to absorb the sweat and a vest to keep the wind chill off of you.” However, if race day is on the warmer side, “most people in May are likely wearing singlets and shorts,” Popovic said.
A Timex watch is really the most basic watch that you can train with -- it gives you splits and a countdown clock, really facilitating most of your training needs, according to Popovic. For those that want to get more advanced and start monitoring things like heart rate, he recommends Polar heart rate monitor watches.
“The Stick” --- a roller to work out muscle knots. Bodyglide -- this handy little tool looks like a stick of deodorant and helps to eliminate chafing -- for longer races marathons, Popovic explains, this is an essential. Number belts are also popular for racers to affix their race numbers on rather than pinning directly to jerseys.
Compression socks/calf guards:
These items have become more popular recently and help with circulation to keep the blood flow going. They also help to prevent sore muscles and cramping and can be worn both during the event and after as you recover.
For runners who don't go with the nutrition provided at the course on race day and prefer to mix their own, fuel belts are a must. These handy belts come in 2-bottle and 4-bottle formats and often also include a pouch to hold gels as well. These belts are popular for marathon running and “keep everything in one place” Popovic said.
These handy little items can be worn on top of your shoe and can hold things such as ID cards, money, keys, etc.
You want to look for a pair that are made of moisture wicking material, Popovic says -- stay away from cotton, which retains moisture.
No matter what your training regimen or race day rituals, it is important to be prepared for every run. What are your must-haves? Let us know in the comments below.