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With the famous New York City Marathon (among numerous other races) swiftly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about the nuances of race day. Tactics, most certainly. Logistics, of course. But what we’re really referring to here isn’t so much sharpie-ing your mile times on your arm or rounding up a pace pack — it’s exactly what to wear for your marathon.
The Best Running Brands Are Mile-Tested and Editor-ApprovedRunners have more gear options than ever, and these labels are leading the charge
Marathon Running Checklist
Your choice of socks or gels might seem inconsequential, but as an edit room full of ex-marathoners and first-time runners, we can attest that every detail counts when you’re fighting for your life at mile 22. The right singlet can make all the difference between a breezy run and a profusely bleeding nipples, just like knowing which super shoe actually works for your gate or cadence will save you a lifetime of blisters (and help you avoid major injury).
Below, we’ve highlighted every facet of garb and gear that you should be wearing or carrying on race day, along with some of our top picks for what to wear for your marathon. There’s a mix of everything imaginable, from Merino Tracksmith baselayers to caffeinated gels that don’t need water to the Nike super shoes we all know and love.
What to Wear For a Marathon
With much of the racing season happening at the end of fall, it’s easy to fall for the trap of long-sleeves and half-zips. Don’t — unless you’re running in seriously low temps, 26.2 should warm up your core enough that a sweat-wicking tee (Ten Thousand’s Distance Shirt is a favorite of ours) or even singlet would be more than enough. If you really need a base layer, we suggest something Merino — it’s the best combo of warmth and dryness we’ve found.
We’ll reiterate — avoid pants, if at all possible. We might even suggest the controversial half-tight…but that’s for you to decide. Regardless, a multitude of pockets for gels, headphones, keys and more are essential, as is a fit that isn’t too tight — chaffing becomes a dangerous factor after dozens of miles.
If the weather takes a turn for you worse, you might want to consider a rain-proof layer to save off chilling wetness. On’s Lumos Jacket is, for our money, the best model currently on the market when considering all the marathon factors, but there are plenty of other great options, too.
The Racing Shoes
We’ve written extensively on racing shoes before, so you’ll have to check that out if you want the full scoop, but remember the three major rules: get your proper size, prioritize leg-saving foam, and, for Christ’s sake, test them out before you run in them for 26.2.
The Best Running Shoes for Race Day and Speed WorkoutsWith their premium cushioning foams and lightweight, propulsive designs, racing shoes are built to help you set a new PR
Don’t forget the little things that’ll make running in the wind, sun and heat all the more bearable. Tailored caps and sweat-proof eyewear are both great ways to block the excessive amount of rays shot your way, and, if you think you need it, don’t be afraid to strap on a running belt for extra storage.
From GPS watches to recovery, there’s a multitude of tech just waiting for you to break your PR. We’ve been on the Coros wave for a minute, and swear by its to-the-meter precision. A pair of well-fitting headphones to bump tunes isn’t a bad idea, either. And have all that good recovery gear waiting for you at home afterward…you’re going to need it.
Gels are a tricky beast to master, but if you figure out what works for you, they’re an essential tool to help you stay at peak performance the whole race. Read more here, and again, test them out first, please.
The Best Running Gels to Fuel Your WorkoutsGrab a gel before you hit the starting line
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