My half marathon is quickly approaching, and I can’t believe it! Time seems to be flying by so fast, and I feel so unprepared for it. It’s all mental, I know, but the thought of running 13.1 miles sort of terrifies me right now… Thankfully Isaac is here to keep me from going crazy! We have been doing fairly well sticking to our training program (although there have been quite a few days when we skipped a run in favor of a few extra zzz’s), and our pace is getting closer and closer to our goal pace. We’ve hit crunch time, and it’s hectic, but I love it.
Before we ran our first half marathon, I had no idea what I was doing. I read a lot of blogs, talked to other runners, and mostly just figured things out on my own. Now that we’re getting ready for our third, I feel a lot more prepared than I did all those years ago! It becomes almost second nature planning out what to eat while training, and we have found our favorite gear to use. So if you are feeling like I did before my first half, I’m here to help! Today I’m sharing mine and Isaac’s favorite running gear, and how they have helped us up our game more than ever before.
Before we get started, I need to first mention that you should never try something new on race day. Only stick to the things you have used during training! You don’t want to eat something, try something or use something new the day of the race, and end up hurting yourself (or your time). If you are wearing a new outfit, or trying out a belt, make sure you run with it a few times before the race to make sure it’s going to work out. The last thing you want to do is spend over two hours adjusting a top that keeps riding up, or swinging a belt back to center. Trust me on this one! ; )
GPS watch: Before I bought a GPS watch, I would map out my route using MapMyRun.com. It was perfect for planning out where I was going to run that day, and I really got to know my neighborhood! (I mean… you kinda have to if you are going to remember which street you need to turn on.)
I started off with the Polar M400, which I used for almost two years before upgrading to my current watch, a Garmin Forerunner 235. I love it! It finds GPS in a matter of seconds, is pretty accurate when it comes to measuring distance, and I like having the smartwatch functions. Isaac uses the Garmin Forerunner 630, which is very similar to mine, except for the touchscreen and a few extra features.
Running shoes: You would think this is a no-brainer, but when we ran our first half marathon, Isaac actually forgot his running shoes! And let’s just say that the shoes he wore weren’t quite up to par with what he was used to wearing. ; ) I buy a new pair of shoes about once a year, since I run so much and stay fairly active. I’ve heard that you should try to replace your shoes about once every 500 miles, and try to stick with that as much as possible.
So… I have very flat feet, and need shoes that are made for runners with over pronation. For the past two years, I’ve bought the Asics GEL-Venture 5, but this year I decided to mix it up a bit. I went with the Brooks Launch 3, and besides some heel blisters that they gave me, I’ve really liked them! They have more ankle support than my Asics, and I can tell a huge difference in the way my feet hit the ground when I run. Instead of over pronating, I am striking at a more neutral angle, which is what I needed.
I recommend you take this test to determine how you run, and which shoes will be perfect for you!
Running belt: I love love love my SPI running belt. I actually won it in an Instagram giveaway a few months ago, and honestly don’t know how I lived without it. The SPI (Small Personal Items) belt is made for runners, and it’s so comfortable that you actually forget you’re even wearing it. They have all different sizes, depending on what you are looking for. I have the large belt and it comfortably fits my phone (and its HUGE case), car keys, change, and even a tissue for when I have a runny nose. It is crazy how much you can pack in there, and how easy it is to wear. I like to wear it so the pocket is on my back, because I’ve found that that’s the best place for it to not bounce or move around when I run.
Hydration belt: Even in all the years we’ve been running, Isaac and I have actually never used a hydration belt before! The other night, though, we decided it was time to bite the bullet and get one. I’m really excited about it, because the water fountains in the parks near our house have been turned off for the winter, and it’s kind of a pain to stop at gas stations for a cup of water when we need one. We decided to purchase the Adalid Gear Hydration Belt, and I’m looking forward to trying it out!
Head lamp/Light belt: Since I leave for work at 7AM, any morning runs we do are always in the dark. That’s when having a head lamp or light belt comes in handy! I highly recommend buying one if you plan on running in the dark, because it helps you avoid injury, and it helps cars see you a little bit better. Isaac wears a head lamp (which he LOVES), and I use the GoMotion LiteBelt 100, which I’ve had ever since we trained for our first half marathon. I personally prefer the light belt simply because the beam of light doesn’t move when I look from side to side, and the pockets in the side are nice for storing keys and change.
Running leash: This year we have completed every single run with Lillie. She is an amazing runner, and Isaac and I are amazed at how much energy she has even after 10 miles. I wish we could bring her on our half, but I know it will be too crazy at the start line, and could be dangerous for her. When we do run with Lillie, though, we use our Rugged Hands Free Dog Leash that we bought last Christmas. It has been a total game changer when it comes to running with a dog, and I am NEVER going back to a normal leash again.
I love that this leash allows your hands to be free, and it makes running so much easier (arm pumping is no joke, y’all!). I also feel safer using it, since I know that she won’t be able to jerk her leash out of our hands if she gets spooked, and that even when she runs on the other side of a light post, you won’t lose grip of the leash (although it may cause you to fall flat on your back in front of lots of onlookers… not that I have any experience with that!).
Running clothes: My favorite athletic wear brand lately has been Fabletics. I am in love with their cute leggings, and how comfortable they are. The outfit in the picture below is my newest purchase and I think it may be my half marathon outfit… What do you think? The top is the Aventura Tank, and my bottoms are the Zoey Capri. I am especially digging the mesh detail in the leggings- so cute!
Running jacket: I hate being cold when I run, so having a lightweight running jacket is a must for me! I bought my Brooks jacket for my first half marathon, and even though it hurt a LOT to spend almost $100 on it when I bought it, it has by far made up for the price over time. It is made for 40-60 degree weather, and is windproof, which I especially love. The jacket also has reflectors in it, which is great for running in the dark.
Moisture-wicking socks: Isaac and I are definitely snobs when it comes to socks. We have both fallen head over heels for our Thorlo Experia socks, and I wish I could buy them in every color! They are moisture wicking (which is a must when it comes to running), have padding in the heel and toe, and a breathable section in the middle which keep your feet from getting too hot. The pads are not too bulky, and help with the blisters I tend to get on my feet. We bought my little brother some for Christmas, and he said he’s joined us on the Thorlo bandwagon.
Headband: I’ve talked about my all time favorite headband company before, but I thought I’d give them another shoutout today. Because #iloveTrueNorthCollection. You can read all about why my True North Collection headbands are so amazing here and here, and trust me, they are perfect for a half marathon! They keep your hair out of your eyes, wick the moisture away, and you look darn cute doing it too.
Energy gels: This is honestly a new thing for us! We haven’t used energy gels before, but on our most recent long run, I decided it was time to give them a try. By mile 5 (on a 10 mile run), I was weak and shaky, even though I had eaten something before the run. I know that if we had had energy gels with us, then I would have been able to avoid the low energy and push through to the end. After doing some research online, we decided to get the GU Original Sports Nutrition Energy Gel assorted pack. That way we can find a flavor we like, and test how we feel and perform when we use it. We still have about three weeks till our race to give our bodies time to adjust to it, and I’ll let you know how it goes!
Bodyglide: While training for my half marathon last year, I got some pretty gnarly blisters on the balls of my feet. I had to tape them up before every run, but I STILL irritated that area of my foot. I finally decided to try Bodyglide, and I am so happy I did! It helps lubricate your foot so the sock and shoe have less friction on that specific area, and it has drastically minimized the occurrence of blisters this year! I just rub it on whichever area I tend to get blisters or chafe, and I’m good to go.
Compression sleeves: A few months ago I shared all about the CopperJoint Compression Sleeves, and how they have helped me reduce injury and soreness while running. I wear my knee sleeve on longer runs, and can definitely tell a difference when I do! My knee pain is less than it’s ever been before, and I haven’t had to take any pain medicine for it at all. I also like having my ankle sleeve on hand when needed.
Epsom salt: I don’t know about you, but I get sore when I train for a half marathon. Last year I discovered Epsom salt, and it’s seriously amazing! I won’t get into all the special qualities of it right now, but it really does help reduce soreness and joint swelling. I also like getting smells that are relaxing (my current favorite is Dr Teal’s Eucalyptus & Spearmint), which help me wind down after a long day of running and work. It’s also great for soaking your feet, which I did after running 10 miles and shooting a wedding in the same day! My feet were noticeably less tender and sore the next day.
Looking for a fun workout idea to get your heart rate up and burn as many calories as running? Then you should try hula hooping! This post from Pretty Simple Ideas breaks down the benefits of this fun fitness activity, as well as tips for beginners like me. Who knew hula hooping was so great for you!
Now it’s your turn to talk! Answer one of these questions in the comments below:
What is your favorite piece of running gear?
Do you have a funny running story you’d like to share? ; )
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All opinions in this post are my own. I was not paid, nor did I receive any items in exchange for this review. I’m just sharing what I love because I love y’all!