The name “half marathon” has always been a bit unfair. Sure, it’s only half of a full marathon—but it’s still 13.1 miles! Given how long you’ll be out there, the right gear can make or break your race. If you have a race coming up, here’s some advice on what to wear for a half marathon!
A Standard Running Outfit
Let’s start by highlighting the basic pieces of apparel that you wear on any old run, and consider how to optimize them for the race:
Shirt. Look for a running shirt made from synthetic materials that can wick moisture away from your skin without getting heavy as the miles add up. Avoid cotton, and watch out for any shirts with seams, as these could lead to chafing during the race.
Shorts, Capris, or Tights. Your choice of bottoms will depend on race day weather. No matter what you choose, the item should be made from synthetic materials to help keep you dry and comfortable. Avoid anything too baggy or heavy that might restrict your stride or catch the wind and slow you down.
Socks. Your feet obviously have a lot of work to do between the start line and the finish line, and quality socks can make a world of difference. Blisters are the enemy here, so try to stick with snug-fitting, seamless socks.
Shoes. Seek out a comfortable running shoe that works best for your feet. A great pair of shoes should make your foot feel stable but not too constricted. When choosing a size, remember that your foot will swell a bit when you run. Be sure to train in them before the race, as Buying a brand-new pair of shoes the day before race day is a recipe for blisters and pain.
Sports Bra. A quality sports bra can make a world of difference when running. Beware excess seams that might (literally) rub you the wrong way. And if you have trouble with sizing or fit, look for a bra with adjustable straps and bands. If you already have a favorite bra but it’s starting to stink, check out our post on how to keep your sports bras fresh!
Once you have your base half marathon outfit together, you may want to consider a few additional items:
Hydration Belt.While many races will have hydration stations throughout the race, they won’t always have your preferred liquid or nutrition, and they might not be placed frequently enough for your needs. In this case, consider wearing a hydration belt. Be sure to choose one specifically designed for runners.
Sunglasses. This is pretty straightforward. If the race day forecast says “sun” and you don’t like squinting, a pair of snug-fitting shades can help you keep your eyes on the road.
Sunscreen. You’ll be outdoors for some time on race day, so it’s always a good idea to apply sunscreen. Look for waterproof sunscreen, sometimes labeled “sports” sunscreen, and apply at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the race.
Hat. A light hat can be a great way to protect yourself from the sun or, alternatively, keep the rain out of your eyes.
Arm Warmers.If you’ll be running on a cold day, a pair of arm warmers can help you preserve some body heat. These are especially useful at the start of a race. As you warm up, you can simply remove them and stuff them in a pocket or hydration belt if you’re using one.
Jacket. If the weather looks cool and rainy, a water-resistant running jacket can help hold in body heat and keep you dry.
Gloves. These are another cold-weather essential, because your fingers will be one of the first things to freeze. Pro tip: if it’s also raining, wear medical gloves over your regular ones to keep your hands dry!
Watch. If you like to keep track of your pace, how far you’ve run, or even just how long you’ve been on your feet, be sure to strap on your favorite fitness watch.
The Golden Rule
In the running world, there is a Golden Rule to be respected when it comes to race day apparel: never wear anything on race day that you haven’t tried at least a few times during training. It might be tempting to buy a fancy new shirt or a bright pair of shorts to stand out on the course, but it’s best to only wear things you’ve tested and confirmed work for your needs.
The reasoning is that every runner is different and you won’t know how something works with your body until you’ve tried it. For instance, you might buy an expensive pair of high-end racing shorts, only to find that they don’t fit quite right and lead to painful chafing as you run. Race day is not when you want to find this out, so stick to gear that is tried and true.
The Technology Component
Finally, modern runners tend to embrace technology. You may already be using a variety of gadgets in your training that you want to bring with you to race. GPS watches are one such item, but beware that they might not sync perfectly with mile markers on the race course. To get splits that match the course, you should turn off your watch’s “auto lapping” feature and lap it manually yourself.
As far as listening to music or a podcast, you will need to check the rules for your race. Some races prohibit headphones, while others request that you keep one ear uncovered, so you can hear things happening around you. Consult the rules in advance so you aren’t surprised on the morning of the race.
A heart rate monitor is another great piece of technology to consider for race day. Keeping tabs on your heart rate can help you ensure you’re racing at the best pace for you. Be sure to train with the monitor as well, so you can know what heart rate you should be targeting on race day.
Keep Your Running Gear Fresh & Odor-Free
Running a half marathon is not just about race day. A lot of work goes into training during the weeks and months leading up to the race. To keep your running gear clean and smelling great as the training sessions add up, turn to WIN Sports Detergent. Our product is specifically formulated to eliminate the stink from the synthetic fibers typically used in running apparel. Order a bottle today and experience the difference!