5 Best Things You Need to Finish Any Race
The Pittsburgh Marathon is over, but running season is in full swing. These 5 items will help get you across the finish line.
Though they're some of the nicest people, runners sometimes have been perceived as a slightly loopy bunch. Perhaps it's because they've been spotted jogging in inclement weather, with an untied shoelace and/or before dawn's early light. Whatever the case may be, they're dedicated to this form of exercise that's often associated with contemplation and stress-relief.
Around here, there's no shortage of choices, from 5Ks to full marathons scheduled within and outside city limits; there's something for the avid runner looking to earn accolades and the newbie who's just looking to complete a competition. In order to do well, you'll need to train in advance and prepare accordingly for your big event. Remember to hydrate, stretch more than you believe is necessary and sport broken-in clothing and sneakers (just don't wear ancient kicks, as the soles will be too worn).
Here are five things that, along with a strong drive, should help you to get through any race.
1. Hydration belt
Come race day, few people wish to carry a purse or shoehorn keys and other valuables into their sneakers or short pockets. A hydration belt doubles as a spot to store your keys and Gu and mini water bottles. Consider your race distance when choosing a belt, but remember that there are water stations scattered throughout most race courses; many belts come with two bottles, but bottle sizes may differ from brand to brand.
PHOTO COURTESY MISSION ATHLETECARE
2. Cooling hat
It doesn't matter if you're running in the direct sunshine or at dusk — sporting a cooling hat is the way to go. Mission Athletecare's cap especially is a boon for those running in morning races because it helps to shield the eyes (and face) from the sun. Snapping the fabric will activate the ventilation system; combined with the wicking technology, your head will stay cool when you need it most.
PHOTO COURTESY GU
3. Energy "food"
There's a great divide over what form of energy booster is best — there's the gel camp and the chewable camp. Both aim to deliver fast energy to runners; the idea is that athletes will consume the recommended amount with a beverage at least once per hour. As far as gel options are concerned, we're a fan of Gu gels because it's easy to grab, rip and consume these packets on the run, literally. Honey Stingers and Clif ShotBloks are great chewables to keep with you, storage permitting. Though the product primarily is targeted at bikers, we also enjoy Nuun, a tablet that dissolves in water to deliver a pick-me-up.
4. The original Buff
If you register for any of the Pittsburgh Marathon events, training outside in the winter may be a requirement. Instead of filling your lungs with piercing cold air, get an original Buff and wear it over your nose and mouth. When racing in hot conditions, you may want to use the fabric as a headcap or headband. There are countless ways to use this versatile, breathable item.
5. Compression socks
Jogging on pavement and hills isn't exactly easy on the body. To help keep calf muscles from overexpanding — and to avoid getting shin splints — pick up a pair of compression socks. Your heels also will thank you, as you won't have to worry about them rubbing against your shoes for miles. Extra benefit of wearing these: The socks will keep your legs warm during colder races.
Bonus suggestion: Depending on the length of your race — and what you're going to wear — you may want to invest in BodyGlide, which helps to lessen (and sometimes prevent) skin irritation from constant rubbing; at the very least, athletes will apply it under arms.
- Dick's Sporting Goods (several area locations; dickssportinggoods.com)
- Elite Runners & Walkers (two area locations; eliterunners.com)
- Fleet Feet Sports (1751 North Highland Road, Bethel Park; 412/851-9100, fleetfeetpittsburgh.com)
- REI (two area locations; rei.com)