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Top 10 Marathon Essentials

It’s hard to believe that the Chicago Marathon is only weeks away! Hopefully you’ve already put in the miles on the streets of Oak Park or on the Lakefront Trail and your body is race-ready.

Whether Chicago is your goal — or Indy, or Twin Cities, or any one of the other excellent fall marathons — this list will help ensure you are prepared for the Big Day.

1. Shoes.

Okay, total no-brainer, we know. But if you haven’t already, now is the time to decide which shoes you want to have carry you across the finish line. If you already know but haven’t bought a new pair in awhile (3 to 6 months, depending on factors such as your mileage, model, etc.), now is the time to reup. It’s a good idea to get fitted again if it’s been awhile, as your body and gait can change over time. Certain athletic stores (hey, like Lively, come to think of it!) offer professional shoe fittings with video gait-analysis to get you in the right pair.

superhero shoes

Put the NEW in your Newtons. (Get it???)

2. Bra.

We know it sounds sad, but your sports bra should never experience the thrill of a birthday. This is especially true if you are on the curvier side — bustier women are going to burn out sports bras faster. Not sure how old your bra is? If the writing on the tag, or any words emblazoned on the inside of the bra, is illegible, it’s time for a new one. Another clue is if your bra has started to chafe you. Some chafing is normal during hot-weather running (and that is when Body Glide becomes your best friend), but you’ll notice an increase in chafing when the band of your bra has become stretched out and moves around more as you run.

The Rebound Racer: a Lively staff fave.

3. Body Glide.

If you’re not already a loyal Body Glider, it might be time to consider this little miracle-worker. Body Glide is less goopy and more steadfast than Vaseline or other lubricating products, and it glides easily onto any part of the body. The most common application areas are between the thighs (especially if you’re rockin’ short-shorts), underneath the band of your sports bra, any spot on your feet that’s prone to blisters, and underneath the arms (especially if you’re rockin’ a tank top). An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so slather up before your next long run and before, ow, your post-run shower tells you where you chafed. And now we’ll stop sayin’ “rockin’.”

a must-have

The miracle worker.

4. Running Socks.

These aren’t just any old socks. Socks specifically designed for running are blister-resistant and slip-resistant, meaning that they won’t move down and bunch up in your shoes. The most popular brands are Balega and Feetures!, and Lively also carries Darn Tough, merino socks that come with a lifetime guarantee. The number-one rule? No cotton, as cotton absorbs moisture, leading to bunching and blisters.

A perennial fave.

A perennial fave.

5. Timing Device.

Whether you go low-tech and print out a paper bracelet with your splits on them (you can do so here) or you decide to invest in a watch, you’ll need something to make sure you don’t start your race too fast. “Splits,” by the way, are how fast you run each mile. So, for example, you may want to aim for 11:00-minute splits for each mile for the first 10 miles, then increase to 10:30 per mile for the next 6 miles, etc. If you have a time goal — say, finishing in under 4 hours — knowing your splits is even more important. Watches range from simple, affordable trackers like the Soleus GPS One ($79) to advanced watches like the Garmin Forerunner 225 ($299.99), which monitors your heart rate and gives you access to training plans, in addition to tracking your pace and distance.

Affordable and adorable.

6. Fuel.

Another no-brainer! But now is the time to really solidify how many gels, chews, tablets, etc., you need to carry with you on race day and in what flavors. Your last 20-mile run will be a good indicator. Head to your local running store (*cough cough* Lively *cough cough*) and stock up on your favorites. Some stores (*cough* Lively) also offer special deals if you buy in bulk, like buy 10, get 1 free.

why not

Maple Bacon: the preferred flavor of running lumberjacks everywhere.

7. A Way to Carry Fuel.

You’ll need a way to carry all that fuel, and the top seller at Lively is the FlipBelt. More attractive than a fanny pack, the FlipBelt looks like the top of a pair of yoga pants; you can opt for punch-colored or neon pink to provide a bright splash against black or gray bottoms, or go for the classic black or carbon if your pants are already flashy. The FlipBelt fits enough fuel for the marathon distance, and it can also carry any size phone you may have. Other options include choosing a handheld water bottle with a zippered pouch or a hydration belt with a pocket on it.


A must-have if you need to carry a medical device as well.

8. Hydration.

Now is the time to decide if you are going to rely on the water tables along the course or bring your own fluids. Factors to consider include the weather (if it’s hot or humid, you may need more liquid), if you want to stop or slow to grab water, and how you handled hydration during training. A handheld water bottle, such as the ergonomically designed Amphipod bottles (oh, you know we carry them at Lively; we won’t fake cough this time), lets you stay in control of your fluid and cruise through aid stations. Plus, as mentioned above, all have zippered pouches attached to the thermal sleeves, giving you another place to stash gels.


A larger-sized bottle is perfect for half or full marathons.

9. Music Game Plan.

If you run with music, start building your ultimate playlist based on how long you think it’ll take you to finish, and treat yourself to new songs that will pump you up and that you’re not already sick of. Listened to “Bad Blood” one too many times during training? Go ahead and buy “Wildest Dreams,” princess. You’ve earned it. To hear all that Taylor Swift clearly while still knowing what’s going on around you, we recommend the Yurbuds earbuds, which fit snugly inside your ear holes — just like with shoes and bras, you can get sized to be sure you get the right fit — and let in enough background noise so that you don’t get bowled over because you didn’t hear that guy yell, “ON YOUR LEFT.” And there’s always that guy.


Did we mention the colors are super-cute?

10. Race-Day Outfit.

Distance Shorts

The Distance.

It’s hard to plan your marathon outfit too far in advance, when you don’t know what the weather is like. Midwestern spring and fall temperatures are notoriously hard to predict. Ideally, you’ll have a couple of options in mind, and you can choose the right outfit closer to your race date. Make sure all your clothes are moisture-wicking (again, no cotton) and consider whether you need apparel with more pocket options. The Oiselle Distance Short, for example, is a Lively favorite because it has 3 separate pockets for holding your fuel, ID, cash, etc. It’s called the Distance Short for a reason: it’ll take you there.

Lux Arm Warmers

She won’t tell you about the snot wiping. But we will.

Another option for unknowable weather is to grab a pair of arm warmers, like the crazy-soft Oiselle Lux Arm Warmers, which pair nicely with a tank and will keep you warm at the start and can be bunched down when if you begin to heat up. Plus, the soft fabric is ideal for wiping your snot on. There, we said it.

And that’s it! Good luck, runners, and we can’t wait to hear how the Big Day went for you!

Lively Athletics


18 Sep, 2015

Accessories,  Apparel,  Chicago,  marathon,  Race Planning,  Tips,  Training


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