The Virgin Money London Marathon takes place at the perfect time of year – not too hot, not too cold with little likelihood of snow…believe that and you’ll believe anything! Although April does appear to be the perfect time of year to undertake an endurance race of this nature, the British weather is as unpredictable as England’s football team so you need to be prepared for all eventualities, and that includes your kit.
The required training time for such an event will most definitely mean that you're running in some of the coldest months of the year (if you live in the UK at least). The number of months you'll be preparing for the marathon will of course vary dependent on your current running base. This is quite an undertaking and you must be mindful not to try and ‘Polyfiller’ together a fitness base as the inevitable result will be injury. In short, around six months is not an unrealistic period to allow most beginners to get to a level of conditioning that will get them round.
As you can imagine this will mean that with an April marathon like London a brand new runner will be getting ready by late summer or autumn of the previous year. These seasonal changes should almost certainly be reflected in your running kit.
What and when?
If you're training most days then a certain number of garments are needed to get you through the week before a weekend wash. Even if you’re happy to wear your kit a couple of times before washing, you’ll need at least a couple of pairs of each article to get you through a week. September, October and November is usually when you’ll utilise the shorts and t-shirts (vests if preferred) and these will again get more use around March and April. The intervening months of December, January and February is when tights, long sleeve t-shirts and jackets, or even fleeces, become vital. So too are gloves and a beanie hat to maintain body temperature and ensure you’re relaxed enough to run effectively.
What to look for in your kit
The best thing that your kit should provide for long distance events such as the marathon is the ability to wick away sweat, to avoid any discomfort caused by wet kit. But there are also specific things you should look for in all aspects of your training gear:
Basic sports socks will absorb sweat and will move about in the shoe which will only facilitate blisters. For a run such as a marathon you should definitely invest in some fitted running-specific socks. Anatomically (left and right specific) fitted socks will reduce the incidence of blistering.
- Shorts and T-shirts
Non-technical garments tend to be heavy to start with but can get much heavier with rain or sweat. This means that you're not only wearing extra weight while you run, but because they're not quick drying you'll also remain wet throughout your run. Look for wicking fabrics which not only effectively wick away sweat but also feature extra ventilation at the key body zones (which differ from the men’s product to the women’s product).
Many men will use a short tight, not just for the supportive lycra benefits around the major muscle groups but to prevent the chaffing that they may get when wearing a short.
Fitted, wickable, quick drying, lightweight fibres are the key things to look for in jackets to ensure they’re fit for your running needs. As you will be training a lot in the darker months, reflective materials should also be a must. We have several jackets in our range and pockets, removable sleeves and mp3 pockets are all things that make them versatile pieces of kit.
On the day
It is always important to wear what you're comfortable in, and make sure that you've already worn and washed the clothes that you're planning on wearing on the day. As well as your own personal needs the weather will play a key factor in your apparel of choice. Those of you planning to be on your feet for some time will have to pay attention to the fact that you will be exposed for a prolonged period over which time your body temperature could fluctuate. Here's some things to consider:
- In mild weather you should look at including some lightweight cover-up pieces like a long sleeve t-shirt and a ¾ or short tight.
- If it's due to be very hot and sunny, consider wearing a t-shirt instead of a vest as well as a cap to avoid the risk of sunburn (especially if you are expecting to be taking 5 or 6 hours as opposed to 2 or 3). Quicker runners (sub 4 hours) will prefer lighter, minimal kit as you will be running more intensely for a shorter period.
- Unseasonably cold weather should make faster runners consider slightly warmer layers whilst the slower participants should consider tights and lightweight jackets that can be zipped and unzipped en route - plus, the pocket detail has a practical benefit for carrying nutritional snacks.
- A pair of lightweight gloves in mild or cold weather are invaluable for all runners as cold hands can be a very uncomfortable distraction and can have a knock-on effect to overall body temperature. If the conditions warm up they can easily be discarded, or if you’re reluctant to get rid of them they can always be stuffed in a waistband with minimal interference.
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