Ask A Marathon Mommy: What to Wear?

Sharon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a background in mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare.

“I tried my hand at being a work at home mom, but in 2009 I decided that being a stay at home mom is what works best for me and my family, at least for now. As my kids like to say, I’m “The Boss” of the family, which includes my husband of 9 years, two daughters (ages 4 and 6), and a giant goldfish named Princess Leia. My girls are beautiful and curious and wild and exhausting, and life is never, ever dull! I love reading, traveling, trying new restaurants, and shopping for bargains. I’m also training to run my first marathon in February 2013.”

My first half marathon is NEXT WEEK!!! I’m ridiculously excited! And, like most women preparing for a big event, I’ve got a very important topic on my mind: What Should I Wear?

I decided to ask for some advice. I started with my favorite fashion consultant – my six year old daughter. She recommended that I wear: “something new…something clean…and something awesome.” Got it. Next I asked my four year old. She suggested that I wear pink and that I try to look like “the runner that wins.” Ummm…okay, I’ll see what I can do about that.

With that helpful advice tucked under my FuelBelt, I went to my running group for input from some ladies who’ve been there. And there was lots of advice to go around. Here’s some of what I learned, starting from the ground up:

1. Running Shoes - Selecting the right shoes is a very personal process and sometimes requires a bit of trial and error. I went to a running store a few weeks ago and was professionally fitted for shoes. This process took about an hour and involved a various forms of measurement, a treadmill, and a video camera. I decided on a pair of Asics, which is actually what I was running in previously. I like that they are roomy in the toes. However, there are obviously tons of great brands. Just make sure you invest in a great pair. This is not the time to bargain shop. Trust me. Those words are not easy for me to type.

2. Socks – I had no idea that socks were so important! The socks you wear while running can make or break you. I learned this the hard way during my 12 mile training run last week. I traded my usual cotton socks (a big no-no) for a pair that I purchased at a running store. They were in the sale bin and they were pink! What could go wrong, right? Ha. Unfortunately, these were not the right socks for me. My foot slid forward in my shoes and I wound up with very, very sore toes. New socks are on my to-do list for the week.

3. Compression Socks – When I spotted lots of women running in knee socks, I figured it was just a cute running trend. Turns out these “compression socks” are scientifically designed to improve running performance. Do they actually work? There’s some debate. But some of my running friends swear by them. I think I’ll probably pass on these for now, but perhaps it’s something I will try down the road.

4. Shorts/Skirts – Up to this point, I’ve always run in shorts. But I think my first half marathon is the perfect occasion for me to invest in a fabulous running skirt! Shopping advice for shorts and skirts is pretty much the same. Avoid cotton, as it can lead to chafing (I learned this the hard way). Look for synthetic fabrics (such as CoolMax or Dri-Fit), which wick moisture away from your skin and allow cooling evaporation to occur. And cough up the money for a proven name-brand. You get what you pay for, and this is one situation where quality absolutely counts.

5. Sports Bras – This is probably the most important piece of apparel for a female runner. Minimizing bounce is critical, ladies! Shop for something that fits snugly, but straps and elastic shouldn’t dig into your body or cause chafing. Look for something structured but not too tight, and preferably something made from a synthetic, wicking material. Like shoes – and like all running gear, really – this is a very personal decision and may require some trial and error.

6. Shirts – I live in Florida, so I will definitely be running in short sleeves or a tank top next weekend. There are lots of choices. Lots of colors. Lots of funny, inspirational, or eye-catching slogans, if that’s your style. I love the stuff from One More Mile Running Apparel, but the choices are limitless. Just make sure that you select a lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric, frictionless seams, and appropriate fit and cut. You may also want to look for shirts with additional panels for extra ventilation (or warmth, depending on the weather).

7. Hats/Visors/Headbands – To “top” it off, I need something cute to keep my hair and the sun off of my face and the sweat out of my eyes. I have a great running visor that does both. It’s best to choose something with a broad brim and made from a sweat-wicking fabric. And try to avoid cotton baseball hats, which can trap heat and cause your body temperature to rise.

I have a lot of shopping to do this week! I’ll update you next week on my wardrobe selection…and I’ll tell you all about the big day. Wish me luck, friends!

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Comments

  1. Amanda Sakovitz says

    congrats on doing your first half marathon next week! That is a huge accomplishment and I would love to one day do one. I had no idea either that selecting socks was important.

    • Albert Ugelow (aka Dad) says

      I have solved the sock problem by not wearing any socks at all. This works as long as you have a good fitting pair of shoes. You need to try this first during a training run. The down side is smelly shoes that are best left in the garage when youy are not wearing them.

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