Thursday, February 10, 2011

What do you wear on race day?

Last year, before one of my triathlon races I did a pictorial on what I pack for a triathlon.  I have used this as a reference many times – click here.  I like to make lists.  Lists allow for me to ‘feel’ prepared.  They take the guess work out of the situation. 

Superhero Running --- Image by © Corbis

Last but not least, a cape.

Now, a marathon is different from a triathlon.  A lot less stuff.  However, the stuff that you need is very important.  Lets start at our feet and work out way up.

Lower body -

Shoes -

Don’t buy any new shoes at the expo.  Use the shoes that you have been training in – they have been working for you while you have been building mileage.  Don’t change now.  However, that being said, don’t race in those worn out ragged shoes that you have been putting 200+ miles a month on for the past 4 months.  I always buy a couple of pairs of shoes.  I rotate them regularly – in fact I usually buy three pairs – here’s why.  Use the pair with the least amount of miles.

Socks -

I also keep a new pair of socks in my nightstand.  I always have.  I guess it is like a security blanket.  I always have a new pair of socks on hand.  It is funny, I mentioned this to my Dad and sister over the holidays.  They do it also.  I did not consciously know that either one of them did that.  Is this nature or nurture?  I don’t know – maybe a hoarder gene.  Anyway, I will wear a new pair of socks on race day.  Depending on the weather I may wear a pair of compression socks.  I am not convinced that they help with performance on race day but they would help to keep the legs warm.

Compression shorts -

I like to wear compression shorts underneath my running shorts.  Nothing is worse on a cold day to then to start chaffing.  Okay, they only thing worse then chaffing on a cold day is starting to chaff on a very hot and humid day.  I wear compression shorts on almost every run of substance.

Running shorts -

Since I already have the compression shorts on, the shorts really don’t matter that much.  I will wear shorts with the liner and no underwear – see chaffing issues about.

Race belt -

Being a triathlete, I already have a race belt.  I don’t like to pin numbers on my shirts, especially if I am wear multiple shirts (see below).  I also carry my nutrition with me.  I will load the race belt up with gels.

I will wear all of the above no matter the race conditions.  I have worn all of those items (except the compression socks) regardless if the temperature is 23 degrees (2010 First Light) or 95 degrees and 90+ humidity (2010 Pump and Run).

The weather conditions will dictate what I wear on my upper body. 

Upper body -

Heart rate monitor -

To some extent I train by heart rate.  However, the past couple of years I have raced by pace.  Still I like to have the data.  I always wear the heart rate monitor strap.

Running shirt -

Unless it is below freezing I will be wear a sleeveless singlet.  Sleeves, long or short just trap heat in my body.  When I am trying to run fast I need to dissipate as much heat as possible.  Ideally, I want to start the race in the mid-30’s.  This means I will be cold waiting for the gun to go off.

Arm warmers -

If you cycle then you probably have some arm warmers.  These are just the thing when you start off on a cold morning.  They will keep you warm while you are waiting and you can take them off easily after the first mile or two.  However, most arm warmers cost 15 – 20 bucks.  I can not going to throw those away and I am not going to carry them for 25 miles.  Did around in your sock drawer and find an old pair of tube socks.  Cut the toes out of them.  Now you have disposable arm warmers.  Ditch these at one of the aid stations.  I will wear these make shift arm warmers in temperatures below 40 degrees.

Gloves -

I hate my hands being cold.  The same as the tube sock arm warmers, get yourself some cheap gloves.  You can get the brown gardening type gloves or the knit type of gloves.  Both types cost about a dollar.  The knit type come in all types of colors.  You can even get ones sized women or children because they stretch so much.  You will only be wearing them for a few miles anyway.  Ditch the gloves at one of the aid stations.  I will wear the gloves with arm warmers in temperatures below 40 degrees and wear the gloves by themselves in temperatures below 45 degrees.

Long sleeved cotton shirt -

If it is really cold, like below freezing I will dig a long sleeved race shirt out of the garage.  In fact, most of my race shirts end up being ‘bike cleaning’ rags.  I will wear this cotton shirt over the arm warmers and the gloves.  I will ditch the cotton long sleeved shirt just prior to the start of the race.  I do not want to have to struggle taking a shirt off while running.

Trash bag -

If it cold and raining or sleeting (this is rare in the South) I will wear the cotton long sleeved shirt, the make shift arm warmers and the gloves all underneath a black garbage bag.  I will cut a small hole in the bottom of the bag so that I can poke my head through.  I probably will not cut holes for arms.  I will ditch the garbage bag just before the start of the race along with the cotton long sleeved shirt.

Sunglasses -

I wear glasses but I race in with contacts.  I like to wear sport type sun glasses so that the wind is not in my eyes.  Depending on the starting time of the race and the weather conditions I will either wear a yellow of very light grey lens.  The sunglasses are not for blocking the sun, just the wind.

Running Visor -

I almost always wear a running visor.  The headband keeps the sweat out of my eyes and the open top lets me dissipate heat.  I also have running hats that I will wear if it is going to be really cold or raining.  If the temperatures are deep into freezing and staying down there then I may wear a pair of ear warmers in addition to the running hat.

There you have it – my race attire in all conditions.  This Sunday the weather is calling for a low of 46 and and high 62.  If you ask me, this is too warm.  I will be wearing from bottom to top:

  1. Cushioned running shoes
  2. New socks
  3. Compression shorts
  4. Short running shorts
  5. Race belt
  6. Heart rate monitor
  7. Running sleeveless singlet
  8. Knit gloves
  9. Sunglasses
  10. Running Visor

I am sure glad I will not be packing a bike.  Triathlons have so much more gear.


Matty O said...

Loved this post. I agree with all of these items except the compression shorts. I don't own any, and HATE having that stuff strapped down that tight hahaha.

Sounds identical to my train of thought. I will wear the compression socks below freezing to keep my legs warm, singlet up top to allow upper body to breathe.

Great post man. I don't wear my yellow glasses running... mainly because mine are not comfortable to run in. This is on my list of purchases this year, comfy yellow glasses for running. The ones I have now were from when I had my motorcycle, I wear those on my (manually powered) bike.

How are you that warm down there?! We had -1 today :(.

OH! AND, pissed off that I didn't read this prior to the Nike Women's Marathon, I couldn't find arm warmers anywhere and NEVER thought of cutting up an old pair of tube socks... genius. I love how cheap minded you are (not trying to be offensive... I like that you find perfect alternatives and don't shell out the big bucks). Just like the garbage bags, I ran a whole race in them because it never warmed up as expected... people thought it was a costume... sigh.

Tri-James said...

Thanks Matty -

I prefer frugal or maybe cost effective but cheap works too – here are a few more tips on frugality - Racing is expensive, 10 ways to cut costs.

Tri-James said...

Oh, and you can get compression shorts with a pouch, nuff said.

Caratunk Girl said...

James, the arm warmer idea is genius!! I have not gotten them for the exact reasons you mention (cost, what do I do with them when I don't want them anymore).

Really great list.