Purchasing the right gear for a marathon is just as important as your training schedule, regardless of the distance you plan to run or walk. If you’re a shopper like I am, you’ll enjoy this process and if you’re not, make a to-do list and mark off the tasks. Let’s talk shoes and socks, clothing, and accessories.
Shoes and socks. If you’re on a limited budget, shoes and socks are where your money should be focused. When choosing your running or walking shoes, I suggest you go to the experts—a running store. Okay, I know they tend to be more expensive, but they are filled with good information. Try on several different brands—shoes are like computers, the technology changes quickly. If you’re a walker, do a side-by-side comparison of running and walking shoes before making your purchase. Also, you may think socks are unimportant but they can be as significant as your shoes. I tend to blister easily so I go with the thinnest running sock I can find (Wright Sock Lite ). Just like shoes, there are all different kinds, so don’t be shy; ask to try them on while you’re taking your shoes for a test drive. The more time you spend at the store in the beginning, the less time you’ll be at the return counter.
Cotton is rotten! (a Team in Training  saying) Take a walk in the running section of most any store and no longer will you see your run-of-the-mill T-shirt. We’re talking polyester, but not your Grandma’s polyester—this polyester is stretchy, comfortable, and it allows your body to cool as it wicks the sweat away. Also, don’t fret about having to wear those skimpy running shorts. There are many styles available whether you like a full pant, a Capri pant, bike shorts, or running shorts. Choose your clothing carefully as you will be wearing it over and over again. The clothing that has been well tested is best.
The fun stuff—accessories! Hats and sunglasses are essential, and not just for holding up your ponytail or covering the bags under eyes. They protect against the sun’s rays, especially if you’re going to be outside for any period of time. Look for a running hat that has a black interior visor and sunglasses with UV Ray protection.
For timing runs, some use their kitchen clock (on the way out and then when they return). Others rely on an athletic watch. Any kind of watch will do; again use what works for you. Music sources like iPods are definitely a preference for most runners and walkers, however there are some die-hards that want to be one with nature. I, on the other hand, need inspiration to get my feet moving, so I’m never without my iPod. My Nike power song is Feel Good Inc by the Gorillaz.
Don’t let all this overwhelm you. There’s only one must have—a good pair of shoes. The rest is icing on the cake. Whether you know what you want or just want to window shop, here are a few Web sites I recommend. Roadrunnersports.com , titlenine.com , and fleetfeet.com . Next time, we’ll be talking about training—get ready!
Training for a Marathon: Going the Distance