The Most Important Marathon Training Supplies

 
Our favorite marathon training supplies (especially for beginner runners) // Running attire, gear & nutrition we recommend when training for your first full or half marathon.

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Though running is certainly a sport that doesn’t require much equipment (woohoo!), there are some things that make long races like marathons or half marathons more comfortable and doable, especially for beginners.

We’ve personally completed both full and half marathons and found certain supplies to be particularly helpful along the way. Here are some of the top things we’ve found most useful while training for and running a long race:

Note: This is not intended as the be-all-end-all list of supplies for elite runners, but as a starting point if you’re dabbling in running or interested in running your first longer race. See our marathon training tips for beginners for more detail on training for your first marathon.

ATTIRE

Running shoes

Quality running shoes are (of course!) the most essential piece of your marathon training supplies. Though we can’t recommend a specific shoe for you without knowing your foot shape, stride and training style, we strongly recommend you purchase shoes from a local running shoe shop that has trained staff available to help fit you with a proper shoe for your needs.

Good footwear is essential when logging lots of mileage and completing longer runs. Keep in mind that, in general, you’ll want to purchase running shoes that are a half- to full-size larger than your usual shoe size to ensure your toes have enough space in the toe box as you’re striking the ground. Our friend Gabe, a former Division I collegiate runner, explains more about proper running footwear in this post.

PERFORMANCE SOCKS

While you could run in any pair of socks you own, specially designed running socks help to provide arch compression (aka reduce pain) and keep your feet dry and blister-free on long runs. We love these lightweight merino wool socks:

CALF compression SLEEVES

If you tend to suffer from calf or shin pain while running, compression sleeves can be helpful in promoting blood circulation and stabilizing muscles, reducing pain. Some come in full-sock form, but we like separate sleeves, which allow you to use them on a different laundry cycle than your socks—you can typically get a few more wears out of calf sleeves than socks before washing them. 😉

 

Sweatband

If you tend to sweat heavily while running and don’t want sweat dripping into your eyes (ouch!), a thin and comfortable sweatband can be a lifesaver.

 

Running Cap

A mesh running cap protects your head and face on sunny days, while also wicking away moisture and keeping you cool. Look for breathable mesh or polyester, like these:

SMARTWOOL HEADBAND

For cold weather running, a merino wool headband keeps your ears warm while still allowing heat to escape through your head so you don’t overheat while running.

 

GEAR

fitbit

We track our runs with the Fitbit Ionic or Fitbit Versa and accompanying Fitbit app. These fitness trackers are helpful to monitor your pace, distance and heart rate while running, as well as to see post-run stats like total distance, average pace and heart rate graphs.

Some of the other features we like are:

  • Mileage alerts

  • Pair your watch to bluetooth headphones if you like to listen to music or podcasts while running

  • Sync a credit card to your watch for cashless transactions while out-and-about (Ionic only)

  • Receive text messages to your watch

The primary difference between these models is that the Ionic has built-in GPS, and the Versa connects to GPS via your smartphone. So, the Ionic is a bit pricier than the Versa, but allows you GPS connectivity without bringing your phone on runs. (GPS connectivity is important because it more accurately tracks your distance and pace than the watch is able to do on its own.)

running band

For shorter runs that you won’t need to carry water for, or race day when you’ll have water stations, this slim-fitting running band is comfortable to wear around your waist and easily fits a smartphone, keys, energy gels, etc., holding them nice and tight while you’re running.

 

running vest with water bottle

On longer runs when you’ll need to carry your own water, a running vest can make those water bottles much easier to manage. We like this unisex vest with lots of storage, easy access to up to four bottles, plus a holder for poles (which means it can be used for ultra marathons too).

 

Bluetooth headphones

If you like to listen to music or podcasts while running, waterproof bluetooth headphones are useful for taking outside into the elements (and possibly getting rained on or sweaty). We like these headphones—they stay in your ears well, have volume and pause/play controls, and about six hours of playback.

 

Foam roller

A foam roller is essential for post-run recovery. There are many different styles of foam rollers, but for maximum effect we recommend choosing one with a trigger point grid (like the option below).

 

lacrosse ball

For a little deeper massage, a lacrosse ball can help relive tension in tight fascia (connective tissue covering muscles), relieving pain and improving flexibility and range of motion.

 

knee bands

Ideally you won’t need these, but if you experience knee pain on long runs, knee compression bands can help to dissipate pressure and lessen impact on the patellar tendon, ultimately helping you run longer with reduced impact on your knee(s).

 

NUTRITION

honey stingers gels & chews

Refueling during long runs is super important to keep your energy levels up and avoid “hitting a wall.” (It’s recommend to refuel/rehydrate about every 45 minutes while running.) For mid-run fuel, you’ll want to look for easy-to-digest, low-glycemic carbohydrates, with a little salt to replenish your electrolytes. Honey Stinger energy gels and chews are a natural option formulated just for this.

We like this variety pack that includes four different flavors of natural chews. The gels are easier/quicker to eat when running in the sense that you don’t have to chew them, but they can get a little sticky.

Honey Stinger organic energy gel
 

NATURAL ELECTROLYTE DRINK

Though marketing would have you believe that real athletes stay hydrated with Gatorade, store-bought sports drinks (like Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) are full of questionable ingredients, and actually not ideal for long-term healthy living.

However, water itself is not enough during strenuous exercise, as the body is losing lots of minerals that need to be replenished—which is why we do need electrolyte beverages. To replenish your electrolytes while exercising, there are two good natural options:

  1. Coconut water (as-is, it’s a great source of electrolytes)

  2. A homemade electrolyte drink made with natural ingredients

Here’s our favorite go-to homemade electrolyte drink:

  • 16 oz. water

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt

  • 2 tsp raw honey

Shake or stir all the ingredients in a pint-sized mason jar and you’re good to go!

pre-run snack

Though you should typically avoid running within a couple hours after eating a meal, it’s often helpful to have a small snack about 20-30 minutes before running (especially when training in the morning before breakfast). We look for high-energy, easily digestible pre-run snacks like:

  • half banana with nut butter

  • half an energy bar (like RXBAR or LÄRABAR)

  • handful of crackers or pretzels

  • vegetables with hummus


Grab our fitness guide & workout plan

Training for a marathon or half marathon?

Grab our free printable & fillable Workout Plan—part of our Fitness Guide.


FOUR WELLNESS TIP

Try these supplies to help out on long training runs or race days. (And, here are our marathon training tips for beginners!)


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