Running is great, isn’t it? It helps to clear your head, makes you feel energized and happy, and it keeps you healthy and fit.
This is why marathons are so popular, because they gather together lots of different people and encourage them to run, all feeding into each other’s excitement and pushing each other on.
When it comes to long races, there are different types. Firstly, you have the general marathon itself, which is 26.2 miles/42.195km long. After that, you have the half-marathon, which is half of that.
Next, the 5k marathon runs 5km (around 3.1 miles). Finally, the “fun run” has no set distance, but is uncompetitive and relatively short.
Whichever of these you choose to do, you’re going to want to make sure that you have the correct racing gear to help you complete it stress-free. But what is the best racing gear for marathons, half-marathons, 5ks and fun runs?
That’s where we come in! In our handy guide below, we’re going to take you through the best racing gear that you’ll need for all these different types of run. Read on!
Best Racing Gear For Marathons, Half-Marathons, 5Ks And Fun Runs!
The top that you wear for your race will be essential, because it’s pretty much the piece of clothing that covers you the most. For that reason, you don’t want something that is going to trap your heat in and make you boil.
When you run, you naturally get hotter and hotter the longer you go on. This is doubly the case when you’re running with a group of people, because the heat surrounds you.
As a result, you will need to wear a top that keeps your upper body cool. Therefore, the top that you wear needs to have a few certain qualities.
Breathable & Moisture Wicking
For one thing, you want it to be made out of a material that is highly breathable. This refers to the ability of the top’s material to absorb the moisture of your sweat and then release it back through the fabric itself.
It’s almost like a human, cycling something in and out, like breathing!
This quality in a top goes hand in hand with the other characteristic that you’ll want: sweat wicking.
When a top is good at sweat wicking, it means that it is very good at moving (a.k.a. wicking) your sweat out to the outer surface of the fabric. On top of that, it is also very good at rapidly drying so that your sweat doesn’t begin to saturate the material.
It’s worth noting that in colder weather you may want to put on a lightweight windproof jacket.
Another quality that you may want to look for in a racing top is whether it’s a compression shirt. Shirts that have a good level of compression help you for a number of reasons, many to do with your muscles.
For example, they help to keep your muscles oxygenated by increasing the blood flow in your body. Your red blood cells help to carry oxygen around your body to all the parts that need it, giving them energy.
In a race, your muscles are going to be some of the most important parts.
The compression shirt will help prevent your muscles from getting fatigued, allowing you to continue running longer, as well as assist the muscles in their recovery after a hard workout.
You might also want to find a top that has good visibility. Whichever type of race you’re doing, it might be the case that roads have been closed for you to all run through.
However, that may also not be the case. Either way, you’ll want to wear a top that has bright colors (green, yellow, etc.) so that you stand out and can run safely.
When you’re practicing for your run, this is especially important, because you will probably be running alongside active roads.
The best tops will be made out of technical fabrics, or even synthetic blends that include Lycra, polyester, nylon, and spandex. Try to avoid getting a top that is made with cotton, since that material holds water and can cause chafing.
If you’re a man, the TLRUN ultra lightweight running shirt is a good pick, because it’s made from 100% polyester and is very breathable, with quick dry fabric. You can buy it here. Get it in the brighter colors for added safety.
If you’re a woman, then the Ronhill Tech marathon tee will be a good choice for the marathon. Its breathable fabric allows air to circulate throughout, and it has fibers to wick moisture away.
Additionally, it comes in fairly bright colors for extra safety. You can buy it here.
If you’re going to be running in colder weather, you’ll need to keep warm. Of course, for the colder weather races you’ll also want to pick a warm version of the tops we just looked at, but you will also want to look into getting a base layer.
With that being said, base layers are also perfect for the hotter months, because they additionally act as another material that wicks your sweat away and keeps you cool.
If you get one, you’ll want to buy one specialized for the cold weather and one for the hot.
Running base layers can be special tops that go underneath your main top, fitting to you like a second skin.
Through their special material and construction, a base layer will sit tightly against your skin in the winter, insulating you to keep you warm and wicking sweat away so that you remain dry.
On the other hand, when you wear a base layer in the summer, it will help stop you overheating. The sweat-wicking technology wicks away your sweat, keeping you dry and cooling you down.
A base layer doesn’t just stop at the top level though, because you can also get a base layer for your legs, which can go underneath your shorts or just be worn on its own. It will help your legs keep regulated and dry.
Materials & Thickness
You can get base layers made out of synthetic materials, merino wool, or bamboo. Synthetic is the cheaper option, but is lightweight enough.
However, merino wool provides breathability and warmth, and is even stretchier and more lightweight.
On the other hand, bamboo base layers are just as effective at controlling your odor and wicking away sweat, plus they’re environmentally friendly.
You can also get them in different levels of thickness. A lightweight base layer will do a good job at being breathable and won’t restrict your movement.
On the other hand, a midweight base layer is best for moderate activities during the cold, and can be combined with other layers for more warmth.
Finally, the heavyweight base layer is not as breathable or as good at controlling moisture as the others, but can be combined with thinner layers in order to trap lots of heat and keep you toasty.
For running your races, you’ll want to get a base layer that acts as non-invasive insulation.
If you’re a man, then the MEETYOO base layer set is a great choice. With it, you get both a top layer and a pants layer, offering extra regulation for all of your body. They’re made with a blend of polyester (86%) and spandex.
The shirt has a mesh design that aids the breathability of it, keeping you cool. Better yet, both the shirt and pants are effective at moisture wicking. You can buy them together here.
For women, this set of shirt and pants base layers from HiZiTi is a good choice. They’re also made from a blend of polyester and spandex, but there’s even more polyester this time, at 95%.
The material is breathable to keep you cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather, while also being effective in its moisture wicking capabilities. You can buy the set here.
As you can guess, shoes are going to be a very important part of your race. Your feet are your connection to the ground, and you’re going to be spending an awful lot of time on that ground, no matter which type of acre you’re doing.
Therefore, your shoes need to be comfortable. If your shoes aren’t totally comfortable and fit well to your feet, then you will start to feel pain, and will struggle to finish the race.
Worse still, poorly fitted shoes could cause your proper harm if you run for long enough in them, straining your muscles.
If your race is going to be largely on sidewalks and concrete, then you’ll want to wear some road running shoes.
These have plenty of cushioning in them, which will give you good quality shock absorption, which is especially important on a hard surface like concrete.
On the other hand, most of your marathon might be on muddy trails. In these cases, the ground is going to be soft.
You’ll want to get a pair of trail running shoes, which have a deeper tread to give you a better grip on the ground (it’s important not to slip on mud), as well as firm ankle support to prevent injuries.
However, these shoes won’t be comfortable on sidewalks and roads, so be careful.
Depending on the length and type of your run, you’ll want to get a specific shoe for it. If you’re going to be doing a full marathon, then you’re going to want a shoe that has more cushioning than shoes for shorter races.
This is because you won’t want to be discomforted when you’re in the long haul. On the other hand, a shorter race will suit a flexible shoe well instead.
An essential part to making sure your shoe is properly fitted is having your gait professionally analyzed. During this, the way that you pronate will be looked at.
This is the study of how much your foot rolls inward naturally when you’re out running. On top of that, they will also look at where your foot hits the ground.
After your gait has been analyzed, the professionals will be able to recommend the perfect shoe for you, based on the terrain you’ll be running on, the shape of your foot, your pronation, and your own personal preferences.
When you get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes for your race, then it’s a good idea to do it a few months before the race date.
This is so that you can practice with them for a while, getting used to them and breaking them in. Don’t wear them out, obviously, just try to get used to them so that you will be able to use them best when it comes to the crucial race.
Every shoe and each brand will fit a little differently to each other, even if you’ve got them in the same size. You should have your shoe professionally fitted at a shoe store, and have your gait analyzed.
On top of that, also make sure that there is at least the width of a thumb between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the actual shoe.
For the best picks of shoe, you need to get your gait analyzed and receive some professional recommendations based on that.
However, here are some good general suggestions of brands and models to keep in mind when you get your professional analysis.
For women, the ASICS gel-excite running shoes are a great and affordable pick. They have good ventilation and are comfortable and flexible. You can buy them here.
For a more expensive pick, the Endorphin Speed 2 from Saucony is a great choice. They have Speedroll technology to propel you forward, and they’re springy and ultralight. You can buy them here.
If you’re a man, then the Charged Assert 9 shoes from under Armour are a very affordable pick that still offers great quality. They are lightweight and durable, with charged cushioning midsoles to help you out. You can buy them here.
A more expensive choice would be the Ultraboost 21 shoes from adidas. They have a midfoot cage for support, as well as special ribber for extra traction. You can buy them here.
A very important part of your racing gear is actually the socks that you pick, which you may not have thought was too essential.
Technical Running Socks
Technical running socks will be your best bet. There are plenty available, and you’ll want to find one that has good arch support.
On top of that, you’ll want additional padding across your toes, the ball of your foot, and your heel.
This will protect you from impacts.
More importantly, you will need to think about your sock in relation to your choice of shoe. This is because the thickness that your sock has can change the fit and feel of your shoe, especially considering that your feet expand when they’re hot.
On top of that, you should always make sure that your socks are higher than the back of the shoes, otherwise they’ll slip down. It’s a good idea to wear to your shoe fitting the socks you plan.
These socks from Hylaea, available here, work for both men & women. They cushion your foot well, wick moisture away, and minimize friction to avoid blisters.
A more expensive option are the Balega Silver socks, which you can buy here. You only get one pair, but they’re very high quality.
For hot weather, you’ll want light running shorts. You can get Loose Cut, which are longer than most, or even Racing Cut for the lightest choice. Additionally, Twin shorts have lycra shorts built into them that will make you feel cooler.
For men, these shorts from BALEAF are a great pick. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and wick sweat. You can buy them here.
For women, these shorts from Ronhill are high-quality and effective at moisture wicking. You can buy them here.
Accessories can make your race more comfortable. For example, a visor cap will cool your head. The Mission Cooling visor is a good choice, available here.
Water is essential and a hydration belt will help store your bottles, as well as house nutrition bars. This one from G-Run is a great choice with plenty of room – available here. It even comes with the bottles!
Having the right racing gear is essential to your running, so be safe and comfortable with this guide. Remember to adapt your gear to the weather and race conditions.
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