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Equipment, Clothing, and Shoe Selection

October 10, 2002
By Lisa Rainsberger

Running is one of the least expensive sports you can engage in. Run CTS recommends that you have the following equipment to properly prepare for a marathon training program:

1. Running Shoes (3-4 pairs a year)
2. Absorbant socks (not 100% cotton socks)
3. Hydration Belt - Fanny Pack Hat/Sunglasses
4. Suncreeen
5. All weather jacket and pants for rain/wind/warmth
6. Gels/Sport Drinks

Running shoes are the single most important piece of equipment you will own whether you are preparing for a marathon or just enjoy running for fitness. Because shoes wear out from the inside long before wear and tear is noticeable on the outside, you should replace your shoes every 3-4 months, or around 400-500 miles. Some runners get more miles out of their shoes due to running efficiency and gait.

When selecting a running shoe, be sure you are fit by an experienced shoe salesperson. Visit your local specialty running shoe store and try on several brands and models of shoes to find the best one for you. Make sure the salesperson looks at your feet and lets you leave the store to run in the shoes before you buy them. Some stores even have treadmills equipped with video cameras to examine your running form. The best indicator of whether the shoe is right is "comfort". Does the shoe feel comfortable right out of the box? Don't think the shoe will break in and eventually become comfortable. Chances are it will never feel right. Shoes also come in various widths, so be sure to find one that is right for your particular foot.

Invest in socks that are made of a moisture-wicking material such as CoolMax. You do not want to run in 100% Cotton socks because they will retain moisture and cause blisters. Moisture-wicking materials transport sweat away from your skin, allowing for more effective cooling while reducing the risk of developing blisters.

In addition, you should probably invest in a Hydration Belt, more commonly referred to as a Fanny Pack. As your long runs increase in duration you will need to drink at least 8 oz. every 20-25minutes, depending on the temperature and humidity. Having your own fluid replacement supply ensures you are able to stay hydrated and get the most out of your training. Most fanny packs come with small zipper pockets, which are ideal for carrying gels for those long training runs. As your long runs get longer, there may be the need for extra calories and carbohydrates, which you cannot always get in your fluid replacement.

If you run in a warm climate, be sure to wear sunscreen on exposed areas of your body. Throughout the year, you will be spending a lot of time in the sun, and studies have shown that sunscreen provides a good defense against skin cancer.

Finally, dress according to the weather. Be cognizant of where you are training and the weather conditions in your area. Dress in layers and shed clothing as you begin to heat up. On chilly days try starting your long runs with the wind in your face so that you are not running into the wind after you have worked up a sweat.

You can enjoy running with a relatively small financial investment, but it is important to get the right equipment for comfort, injury prevention, and performance. Develop a relationship with a local running specialty store so you can benefit from their knowledge of new clothing and shoes. Then get out there and experiment with different products until you find your favorites.

Lisa Rainsberger is the head coach for CTS Running and also coaches elite level triathletes. She is the last American winner of the Boston Marathon (1985), is a 2-time winner of the Chicago Marathon, and has victories in the Montreal, Hokkaida (Japan) and Twin Cities Marathons.


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