Marathon season is here, and for those who are about to begin or have already begun training, you know how grueling a process it can be.
For those with a loved-one in training, you know that sometimes, all your favorite runner needs is a little bit of encouragement to get back out there, day after day, as he or she travels the long, hard road to twenty-six point two.
If you or someone you know is really struggling through training, here are some great gadgets that might be just the pick-me-up needed to get back to training!
Mile TrackersIf logging those miles feels much longer than it needs to, tracking your route can help ensure you get in just enough distance and not a quarter-mile more. If you run with your phone, the Map My Run app is great—its updates your total distance after every mile, and it keeps track of your overall pace. For those of you who leave the phone at home for runs, check out the Fitbit Force ($130, fitbit.com) or Nike Fuelband ($149, nike.com). Both will measure your distance and count the calories you’ve burned. Heck, they’ll even log your results or your computer or phone once you’re done.
Potable Beverage AccessIf you’re training for a marathon, you’ll need to drink during training and the race—but who wants to carry a water bottle or wait in desperation for race-day hydration stations? To stay hydrated and hands-free, it’s worth investing in a hydration belt so you can keep your liquids close. Brands like Fitletic’s Hydration Belt (fitletic.com) hold plenty of drinks and even have toggles for pinning on your race number.
There’s nothing worse than running for three hours straight and squinting to see through the sun (nothing that is except for constantly pushing sunglasses bac up your nose after they slide down as you sweat.) Nike has solved that problem with their Skylon Ace XV shades. These glasses are lightweight, have a vented nosepiece to help relieve sweat, come with different lenses that can be swapped to adjust for weather conditions AND have a sportwrap frame thatprevents slipping. Not cheap, but will certainly put a skip in the step of any runner who’s wearing them.
Serious SunscreenFirst of all, let’s acknowledge that sunscreen is a necessity for any marathoner, even if you’re training on a cloudy day or in cooler weather. Now, let’s talk a bit about the different types of rays sunscreen protects again, and what kind of coverage you should look for in a brand:
UVAUltraviolet A rays cause skin to age by penetrating more deeply than UVB rays. They make you lose collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles. They can also lead to skin cancer.
UVBUltraviolet B rays cause skin to burn by hitting its surface layer. With too much exposure, they can lead to skin cancer.
SPFSPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is "the measure of how much solar energy (UV radiation) is required to produce sunburn on protected skin (i.e., in the presence of sunscreen) relative to the amount of solar energy required to produce sunburn on unprotected skin. As the SPF value increases, sunburn protection increases," according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Basically, SPF shields skin from UVB rays and measures how effective a sunscreen is from preventing sunburn.
Broad spectrumBroad spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
Now that you know the basics, here’s one sunscreen we’re obsessing over this season: Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen. Not only do we love the fact that all of their product lines offer broad spectrum protection and an SPF factor of 30 or higher, they come in cool Smart Bottles that change color when exposed to UV light. When the bottle changes color, you know it’s time to reapply your sunscreen! Stick one in your hydration belt and you’ll know exactly when you need to slather a bit more on your exposed skin.
The Right Socks
You know that saying, a little goes a long way? Well, I couldn’t agree more when it comes to the new Asics Marathon Socks. Here’s a $10 gift that, thanks to the NanoGLIDE technology used in manufacturing, will prevent blisters AND wick sweat away from your feet, keeping athlete’s foot and other nasty fungi at bay. Not too shabby, if you ask me!
The Right Shoes
It’s fairly obvious that you need a great pair of shoes if you hope to complete a marathon, but the age-old question remains. How can I pick the perfect pair of sneakers? Here are a few tips to get you started:
Don’t jump at the first pairTry on a bunch of different shoes. Even if the first pair you put on feels ok, it’s worth trying out a bunch of different brands and styles to make sure you get the best possible fit.
Shop lateTry on shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are at their largest due to the minor swelling that takes place throughout the day. Shoes fit properly if you are able to easily wiggle your toes inside, and if you have about ½ inch of space between your big toe and the end of the shoe. When the shoes aren’t on, it should be visually clear that the sneakers are longer and wider than your own foot’s profile.
Location countsBefore you buy shoes, think about where you’ll be training and running your race. If you’re a trail runner, you’ll need a very different shoe than a treadmill-and-sidewalk trainer. If you aren’t sure what works best for your training ground, never feel shy about asking for help.
One of the major complaints I hear from long-distance runners is that they start to develop shin splints. In addition to smart-training practices, a great set of compression sleeves can help keep this troublesome ailment at bay by giving your shin and calf muscles a little extra support. Zensah has a great line of products that even come in bright colors to make you more visible as you train outdoors.
Sometimes the right tunes are the one thing that pushes you through to 26.2. But, unless you have your own WiFi hotspot or are seriously invested in iTunes, it can be tough to keep the music flowing as you go. Here’s the perfect solution: Spotify Premium (spotify.com) Enjoy unlimited streaming while you’re hooked up to the internet (think: gym days) and download a playlist from their library for those off-the-grid runs.
No matter how many gifts and gadgets you acquire, the best way to stay happy while training for a marathon or triathlon is to remain injury free. If you have concerns about pain while you run, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider today!