Tomorrow I fly out to Manchester to kick off my four marathons in four weeks! I’ve been planning this challenge for close to a year, so it feels pretty crazy that it’s finally here. I’m so excited to get out and run – there’s such a buzz at the moment in the running community thanks to all the marathons coming up in this month, and seeing Paris get ready for the marathon here on Sunday too is also creating an amazing atmosphere.
Anyway, I’ve been packing my little suitcase for my weeks away and had the realisation that for the majority of my marathons I have worn exactly the same kit. When running a marathon you don’t want to have any problems with your gear (chafing being the #1 issue), and I’m lucky that I’ve found the combination that works for me.
I have two versions of the same race top which I wear to every significant race, because it’s just that great. Firstly, it’s orange. That’s my favourite colour and immediately brings a psychological boost (I think I run better in orange). It then has my name printed in large letters on the front of the shirt, so that when people get attracted by the fluoro colour, they then also know which name to cheer for. I tell you, it makes such a massive difference to have someone specifically call out ‘GO JULIA’.
On the back I also have my name printed again, as well as my ‘running 26.2 marathons by age 26.2’ tagline. (The other version of the shirt says #crushingit). This tagline is important, because it becomes a conversation point for people during the race. People automatically want to know how may I’ve run or how much time I have left etc., and it’s a great way to have a quick chat and pass a few kilometres.
Lastly, the shirt is made of technical wicking material, and I cut out the inside tag so that it doesn’t rub against my body. It was printed by Banana Moon Clothing, and I’m impressed by the quality of their generic technical t-shirt.
I like to run in capris, and for the majority of my races have worn the same pair of black Nike Epic Lux ones. I bought them ~2 years ago, so they’re not quite the same as the current model, but are close enough. I love them because not only are capris the perfect not-too-hot not-too-cold length, but also because they have three pockets 😱 There’s a zip pocket at the back which is big enough to hold my phone (iPhone 8, no case) and 2-3 gels, a medium non-zip pocket at the front for another 2 gels, plus a sneaky small pocket at the back for anything else (or another gel!). Everything I need for the race fits into this pair of pants.
For colder weather I wear full-length Epix Lux tights, in an interesting print because if it has to be cold, I want to have a bit extra fun. They have the same number of pockets as the capris, and are actually the same pants, just longer! In hotter conditions I will wear tight shorts, a minimum of 7-inches in length – any shorter and there’s bound to be chafing. Unfortunately my shorts don’t have enough pockets and so I then add a running belt like this one by Ron Hill to have everything on-hand.
It’s not just what’s on the outside that counts… everything underneath is just as important! I was very lucky to discover early on that Nike* sports bras are the perfect fit and support for me. I have never had a big chest, and so don’t need any sort of complicated underwire system to keep things in place. My closet contains 5-6 different colours of the same sports-bra but I tend to run in this dark-blue version because… because. It works for me.
It took me six marathons to realise that underpants are just as important as a sports bra. After getting pretty bad chafing at the Cambridge Boundary Run (Feb 2017) I decided to try out Runderwear and have never looked back. They make chafe-free underwear which is so incredibly comfortable that you can barely notice it’s there. Life-changing purchase, for sure.
Along with underwear, making the switch to blister-free socks marked a big change in my racing. I love the Experia socks by Thorlo – they’ve been a part of my race kit for longer than anything else. I’ve been wearing these socks for almost every race since I got terrible blisters in the 2014 City2Surf, and since then have barely had a problem. (I do also recommend rubbing vaseline on your feet under your socks though for extra protection!). They’re not cheap but are definitely worth it, and one pair will last a few years if you avoid wearing them as everyday items.
OK, I’ll be honest – I haven’t quite settled on this crucial item of race kit. I used to run in Nike LunarGlide 7s, but unfortunately these aren’t produced any more. I then switched to 361° Sensation 2s and loved them, but since having to retire my pair after too many kilometres, I’m still searching for a replacement. I do have a birthday coming up soon, so that might be a present for myself… 😉
*This is not a Nike-sponsored post, I just happen to own a lot of their gear. In fact, it’s not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned.