What should I wear when I'm running?
March 18, 2005 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I am not currently "in-shape". In past months, I've been thinking that it would be pretty awesome to run a marathon. Think big, right? What do I need to go buy before I start?

I've done a fair amount of research on what I'll actually have to do to train for a marathon, and I understand that I'm at least a year (more likely two) away from actually running a marathon. I know I've got to take it slow, stretch, and basically not push myself to the point of injury. I know I'll probably be doing at least a few weeks of pure walking to get started.

What I can't find is good information on what I need to purchase before starting the long climb to fitness. For example, I wear Doc Martens as my day-to-day footwear, so I know I'll need sneakers: can I get away with a $50 pair, or do I need to go all-out and spend $150? I could go to Modell's and ask, but I already know what answer they'd give me.

I know there are some serious exercisers on MeFi, so what I'm looking for are specific recommendations for attire that will help me to be successful in this venture: shirts, shorts, sweatpants(?), underwear (I wear boxer briefs day-to-day--are those OK?). Basically, I'm clueless. Teach me, fitness-hive-mind of MeFi!
posted by schustafa to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total)
Buy cheap at first, if only to make sure you're serious. You can get a decent pair of running shoes for $50. I wouldn't reccomend going all-out yet. Run for two months and wear the cheap shoes out. If you're still interested in running the marathon then, spring for a good pair.

IMO, attire is not going to help you at all. You need to become and stay motivated. 26.4 miles is a long, long run, and a particular pair of pants or a great pair of shoes isn't going to make it any easier, only more comftorable.
posted by nitsuj at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2005

assuming the weather is ok where you are, you need a pair of running shorts (new balance, for example, are a reasonable price and black; they have underwear "built-in"), an old t-shirt and/or sweat shirt, a wristwatch, pen and paper for recording times and routes, and some trainers (sneakers). that's all.

for the shoes, go to a good running shoe store in your area. a place that sells shoes particularly for running, rather than for fashion. they'll give you advice - you'll spend around $50-$100, i would guess.

also, get a good training plan. google around or buy a book.

oh, and maybe a bit of vaseline if you get nipple burn.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:05 AM on March 18, 2005

Don't think about the accessories, just strap on a pair of $50 sneakers that are comfy and get out there. walk, jog, trot, meander, whatever.

As you get into your exercise regimen, you will start tailoring your clothes, shoes, wristbands, music, time of day, food, distance, duration, daydreams and everything else as you need to.

Just start, your body will tell you what you need.
posted by remlapm at 9:08 AM on March 18, 2005

Sign up for a local 5K. There's usually one every weekend somewhere close. It's a pretty short distance, and pre-register so you have a definite date to aim for.
posted by smackfu at 9:19 AM on March 18, 2005

For comfort, clothing which is made of the material that wicks the sweat from your body like this shirt.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:20 AM on March 18, 2005

Don't think about the accessories, just strap on a pair of $50 sneakers

What bad advice. As all you will need are sneakers and clothes, get a decent pair, like Asics Gel Nimbus.

Nothing will stop you faster than aching feet. That said, even with a good pair of shoes running is uncomfortable. It's the willpower to keep going, the rush of the sprint and the monument of a completed run that makes it all worth it.

Start off slow, alternate walk/run for the first couple of weeks. It takes months to work up to runnning miles non stop. And rememebr it's not so much how far or how fast you run, but how long. 30 minutes is minimum.

Stop drinking cokes, stop eating french fries, get an mp3 player and stick to asphalt (concrete sidewalks are muck less forgiving.)

Drink water all day, every day.

Always stretch before and after.

Good luck!
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 9:20 AM on March 18, 2005

My co-worker at MSNBC is writing a series of articles about her training for an Ironman competition. She's a good writer and wasn't a huge athlete until a few years ago, you might get tips or information from reading it.
posted by GaelFC at 9:31 AM on March 18, 2005

I am in what I consider to be OK shape -- I run two miles every other day. I ran a marathon once, in 1993. To me it's one of those things maybe everyone should do once, but I also put it in the category of enough is too much!

Also, I'd like to take a trip around the world. But upon reflection, and after doing some research, I decided that what I really wanted to do was to tell people that I'd taken a trip around the world. So instead I just take trips to the places I want to see; maybe someday I'll do the ground orbit, but it's no longer a priority.

I would suggest that schustafa also engage in a bit of self-analysis to determine motivation, and then focus on just getting in shape, which involves a commitment to regular exercise more than any specific purchases. That might mean buying a membership at a health club.
(BTW the only special prep I found necessary when running more than about ten miles was a pair of band-aids, one for each nipple, to avoid T-shirt burn -- but then, I'm not female. As for actual marathon training, I joined a club whose members ran one more mile every weekend, leading up to the race.)
posted by Rash at 9:35 AM on March 18, 2005

MMB. I don't think it's bad advice. I said shoes that are comfy. Focusing on pronation, motion control, stability, arch support, weight, toe-striking vs heel-striking, flexibilty or cushioning is useless unless....you have gone for a run and know what kind of runner you are.

For you to recommend the Gel Nimbus is bad advice. The $110 Nimbus is a highly cushioned shoe for underpronators, it also has almost no front cushioning ( a danger if you are a toe-striker)

Also, FWIW, I've ran in Asics and they KILLED my arches.

Seriously, running is going to hurt for the first 2 weeks, get something comfy and worry about the science shoes later.
posted by remlapm at 9:41 AM on March 18, 2005

If you're just starting out running, I would really suggest a trip to a specialty running store to have them look at your feet and ankles. There are several different ways that your feet can respond when they hit the ground, all more or less normal, and specific shoes are designed for specific feet. Getting the proper shoes can save you from an injury down the road. Expect to pay aroud 80 bucks.

The good news is that that's all you need to get. You have everything else you need to start running. Having a goal is great, and a marathon is a great goal. You might think about shorter races as intermediate goals.
posted by OmieWise at 9:43 AM on March 18, 2005

Response by poster: Well, Rash, I have two motivations: one is, unsurprisingly, to be able to say I did it. I watched the Olympics last summer and watching the marathons was the most fun I had for the entire 16-day affair: I could not comprehend how an individual could put him- or herself through such torture. It really seemed like a need to prove something, but to themselves rather than to someone else. It's this great big amorphous challenge hanging out there, and I have no idea what to expect: I'm going to jump in head-first and see if I can do it. Maybe I can't; I don't want to be defeatist and say I'm prepared to accept it, but I'll cross that bridge if I come to it. For now, though, it's just something to shoot for.

The other motivation is, also unsurprisingly, to get in shape. But this is more a side-effect of the above than anything else, and I have a feeling that once I move closer to being 'fit' I'll like it and want to stay there.

OmieWise: I have thought about shorter races as intermediate goals. Assuming all goes to plan, I'll definitely be trying something along the lines of a 5K-ish thing this summer.
posted by schustafa at 9:45 AM on March 18, 2005

As an observer of many different friends who set out to run a marathon, many trained and trained and trained and then once they finally ran that big race, they simply stopped running/exercising because the motivation was gone. I've seen that happen three or four times. So, perhaps you should make the goal of getting in shape the primary one, and have the marathon be a secondary goal if you indeed want to change your lifestyle. Good luck - exercise gives you much power in all other areas of your life!
posted by brheavy at 10:02 AM on March 18, 2005

I suggest you buy a large bottle of extra-stength acetaminophen. Take one about an hour before you go out. It's enough to dull the aches but still allows through those pains with which you should be concerned.

As for the marathon, sometime soon, take a weekend, find a hiking a trail and just walk 26 miles. As an exMarine, I can tell you that simply accomplishing a distance goal in any fashion is the best first experience.
posted by mischief at 10:06 AM on March 18, 2005

I suggest you buy a large bottle of extra-stength acetaminophen. Take one about an hour before you go out.

Acetaminophen will thin the blood, allowing for less oxygen to your body parts when you need it the most! Take the pain medication after you get back.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:38 AM on March 18, 2005

Three time marathon vet here. I started running in January 1991. My first race was a ten miler in May, and I marathoned that fall, in November. So it is possible in under a year. You can be in 5K shape in six weeks. You won't be winning your age group or anyhting, but just to finish is great. Find the local running shoe store, not Dick's Sporting Goods or Sports Authority. Let them analyze your gait. They may even look at the bottom of your street shoes to determine if you pronate or suppinate. Then they will be able to make a recomendation Goals are good!
posted by fixedgear at 11:08 AM on March 18, 2005

MMB. I don't think it's bad advice. I said shoes that are comfy. Focusing on pronation, motion control, stability, arch support, weight, toe-striking vs heel-striking, flexibilty or cushioning is useless unless....you have gone for a run and know what kind of runner you are.

I agree! Sorry, I was just saying get a pair of quality shoes, not some low end Nike walking shoes or some cross training shoes. As suggested above by others, don't go to a megastore, go to your local running specialty shop and have those guys set you up. Try on every pair, and get what's comfortable for you.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 12:13 PM on March 18, 2005

This site, http://www.justrunit.com/, tracks the progress of one guy's goal to run the NYC Marathon. He went from not being in shape to completing the whole 26.4 miles in 2004. He has a daily log of his runs leading up to the event, as well as his thoughts and experiences.
posted by Maishe at 12:15 PM on March 18, 2005

This is also a goal of mine. A friend of mine bought me The Non-Runners Marathon Trainer for Christmas - and it seems like an excellent resource, I've yet to start into the "official" program, still working on the walk/run/stamina thing.... i've got myself running (except for this week) for 2 minutes, and then walking for 2 - repeat for 30 minutes, increasing my speed as I feel I can take it. Doing all that on a treadmill, I ran in my neighborhood this past weekend, and it was a completely different thing. I'm gonna stick to the treadmill until it's particularly nice to be outside. Maybe that's the wrong attitude, I don't know. I'm extra interested in resources for stretching and such, never been one for physical activity, I can do the treadmill, but I have no clue how to stretch.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 12:17 PM on March 18, 2005

i've ran two marathons. The first i did as part of a fund-raising program. The coaches and group camraderie that came along with the program were a great part of my success.

The second one I did on my own and my training wasn't nearly as good -- I added about 30 minutes onto my time. I still had a good time but just didn't have as much discipline without a pre-defined program that schduled group training runs on the weekends and whatnot.

There are boatloads of those fund-raising marathon programs around these days. Do some reasearch into the various programs in your area and see if there's something that might be right for you.
posted by jacobsee at 12:19 PM on March 18, 2005

Make sure you try out some 5ks, even a half marathon. It will give you confidence and help you see where your training is at.

(and fit and type of shoe is more important than price imho)
posted by justgary at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2005

Schustafa, if you are still reading this, I noticed you live spitting distance from Hoboken (where I live). I can highly highly highly recommend the Fleet Feet here on Washington (between 6th and 7th, next to the soon to be forced out of town "Romantic Depot").

There areonly two guys who work there, Sean and a tall lanky guy with moppy black hair who are both amazingly low key, not condescending, totally patient, will answer any questions you have no matter how stupid, and will also let you run around the block in the shoes before you buy them.

Give a holler if you come down. Also, check out hoha.net, the local Hoboken running club. They have a Mother's Day 5miler that is a blast ( and well attended ), you run along the hudson river and finish on the pier. You should give it a go!
posted by remlapm at 1:05 PM on March 18, 2005

Acetaminophen will thin the blood, allowing for less oxygen to your body parts when you need it the most!
I say "Bullshit", Bucket! Cite me a reference. Thin the blood? Yes, and like aspirin, thus allowing more blood to flow through capillaries.

Or, is my cardiologist full of shit?
posted by mischief at 1:11 PM on March 18, 2005

Can we stay on topic; found my homework for running a future marathon – pleases tell me the running accessories that you found which made your running/walking time enjoyable. Especially while training. My comment above is easily found item at sporting good stores today. Yet when I first heard of the material being developed in the lab, it was impossible finding a clothing maker using. Waited for 3 years to finally see it on the shelves. So I see good advice space being wasted in what the poster did not ask. Lets better tailor this thread’s comments.

Also, while running socks that will wick your feet; do not use 100% cotton, bad. Speaking of feet may want to read this book.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:33 PM on March 18, 2005

No cotton anything. Nylon shorts, Coolmax shirts, wool socks.
posted by fixedgear at 1:53 PM on March 18, 2005

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