Hope you all had a lovely Easter!
While I won't be focusing my blog around fitness, it is a part of my life and I will from time to time talk about experiences and/or if it's fashion related, after all, what better motivation than cute workout gear :P I will be doing a separate post on my marathon experience, so in today's post it’s all about the running essentials. If you haven’t done a marathon yet and are considering it, you will soon realise just how important the little things are. I compiled a list of things I personally love and things that I tried but wouldn’t recommend. The more you run, the more you will change what you prefer; and what was originally not important may become high on your list. On the other hand, if you have no desire for long distance running, not to worry, these items are fantastic for short runs or walks too.
Skirts: One of the first things that I discovered and motivated me to run was that running skirts were even a thing and available. I’ve never really been a short kind of person so these are my favourite item for sporting activities! You can get them in a few different brands, but my favourite are the Lululemon running skirts -this is what I did both my marathons in so far. They have bike pants underneath and rubber grip on them, so they don’t ride up like most shorts/bike pants do. Now, I noticed on the Australian website there was a review about not being good for the Australian heat and humidity; the trick to combat that is running guard (anti-chafe) as explained below. The best thing about skirts is that they are still girly, come in cute options and you don’t have to worry about your pants riding up, just worry about your performance. I also own skirts that I bought in the Tennis section, they are essentially the same thing and I love how versatile they are.
Leggings/Tights: I love these in cooler weather and in general will try and wear them on the longest runs until it's too hot. The compression ones are the best and I find they have a lower potential for any chafing. My favourite brands in these are Nike or Lululemon, I find that these stay up and don't stretch out.
Tops: When it comes to tops, I prefer ones with a cap sleeve to protect your shoulders from the sun and having the extra fabric decreases the amount of chafing potential around your underarms. I personally hate the feeling of my skin sticking and all sweaty. On the other hand, if I'm in the gym or running at night on shorter runs, the sleeveless tops are still good. I have purchased tops in a range of prices and it really comes down to personal preference of shape and fabric. I often wear Nike or Disney tees, and I like that Lululemon offer anti stink versions which is great to increase the life span of your clothing.
Sports Bra: Take the time to invest in a high impact/intensity sports bra! Not all bras are suitable and you really want to prevent any damage -strap them down regardless of size. Berlei and Victoria Secret make great ones and worth the money. My Berlei one was quite expensive but approved by the Australian Institute of Sport for bounce reduction. The particular style of the one I chose also looks nicer, and feels more supportive and comfortable than the ones that look like a normal bra. The Victoria Secret one is cheaper and extremely comfortable! When you find a good one, you may be guilty of wearing them while not doing any sporting activity *raises hand.
Hat: Living in Australia it's so important to wear a hat! I'm one of those people who get irritated by temperature so easily, and I find if it's hot, a regular hat and all my crazy hair makes my head itch constantly. I switched over to a visor and that makes everything so much better! It covers while letting the breeze hit my hair, which is already like having sheep wool on your head during warmer weather. The other thing is that they are lighter and the lighter everything you have on the better!
Phone Arm Band: I used to be able to just have my phone in the zip pockets of whatever bottoms I wore, but as the phones got larger, the pockets didn't. I resorted to using a arm band for my phone and the comfort level is approved, it doesn't annoy me and even the cheapo ones do the job! It definitely beats carrying it, which is what I did for a long time.
Headphones: Headphones are so personal and I have tried a variety of price points. Ultimately I prefer super light ones that sit on the outside of the ears. The headphones I have been using are from Hedkandi (the ones that are super thin and light across the head) and I got them free from work. They aren't expensive and I have had all three versions which were great, but finding them these days is a little scarce. I found some still available on Amazon UK and Ebay -just Google them. My ears get sore if I have the inner ear ones, so I even tried expensive marathon approved headphones that hook around you ears and sit on the outside, but the cords were pulling down on my ears and overall uncomfortable, I couldn't fix it either.
Running Watch: I use a running app to train, which I will go into detail on my marathon post. I will still use an app to plan out my program, but towards the end having a running watch was a lot less distracting to see how your pace is tracking. On race day I also just stuck with the watch and didn't have my phone on me at all. The one I use is the exact Tom Tom pictured, but I also linked another type for you to compare. The two leading brands are Tom Tom and Garmin, but price check a few stockists to get the best deal on the one you want -they can be pricey! On mine, I like how easy it is to customise the display and move back and forward with the stats, so I can see straight away when I glance down at my watch while running.
Shoes: Shoes are another personal thing and I went into multiple stores and tried on a few brands before deciding. Each time I kept coming back to Nikes, but not all styles suited my feet. The first marathon I did, my shoes were comfortable but I kept getting horrid blisters in weird spots!! It wasn't until a long time after I found out it was all to do with the arch support, I didn't have any feet issues so the moulding was sitting all wrong on my feet. I looked at a bunch of running shoes and this time around I chose the Zoom Pegasus 33, and after using them, they definitely deliver on the cushioning making it easier as the distance increases. If you order online, make sure you have already tried on the same style, don't guess this one! I have heard people going up from one to one and a half sizes bigger than your normal shoe size; yes you should to protect your toes, but you may not need to go up that much. I found I could stay the same size or go up to a whole size bigger in different styles, as long as your toes aren't rubbing and you have room for swelling. I only needed to go up half a size in my current shoes, honestly I could have gone up a whole size bigger but it felt safer with only the half.
Socks: Just as important as the right shoes, the right socks make a huge difference! I highly recommend using running socks and not regular ones. They all are around the same price point and now the only ones I will use are the Lululemon speed socks. They have made a world of difference to preventing blisters and providing maximum comfort! The running socks have a more cushioning fabric around the heel and ball of the foot, and a tighter fabric for the rest of the feet. It stops the rubbing and moving of your socks against the shoe as your feet get hot and sweaty. I never thought it would matter but I was definitely wrong, those and the right shoes will make you feel like you are walking on clouds as the distance gets harder.
Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is vital so I always run with a drink bottle. Finding one that makes your grip easier to hold and a little pouch for keys and whatnot gets the tick of approval in my books!!
Run Guard (anti-chafe): This is the most important important thing to buy!! You can thank me later! If you think you won't need it, you'll soon learn the hard way. You can still have a thigh gap and get chafing when running, in more than one place. There are a few types on the market and the one I linked is what I used and recommend. Originally my sister and I tried one that was a white cream and supposedly marathon approved, but it also dried white (you can imagine how dodgy that looks) It also didn't work very well. I found the RunGuard (sensitive) at a Wallmart and thought I'd give it a whirl; it goes on like a deodorant stick and comes out clear and doesn't feel gross. I use it every time I run and has become my must have product!! Everyone will rub in different places and unavoidable in long distance running, but for me it will be between the thighs, around my arm pits and in certain spots under my sports bra.
Tape: If you get to the point where you have pulled something or have some kind of injury, for me it was the IT band, look into using Rocktape. The tape isn't restrictive and helps aid recovery and performance -you can read more about it here. It does last for up to 5 days even with showering and I wore it during my last marathon; it stayed put the whole time, whereas I noticed other kinds of tape were falling off runners.
Hair: Another great tip if you have lots of hair is to braid it instead of a standard pony tail. Braiding will evenly distribute the weight of your hair so you don't have a big lump banging the whole time, or the potential of the tie sliding out from all the movement.
Things I didn’t like:
Running Belt: I got a running belt but it just kept riding up and bashing my stomach, beyond annoying, and having two full bottles wasn't weighing it down or fix it when I took them out. I see people using them, but I hated it!
Shorts/Bike Pants: I'm still yet to find shorts that I would wear, to me they equal chafe central as they ride up, also not that flattering. I prefer bike pants but the shorter ones do ride up too. You need the longer versions with a good fabric.