By Amy Sharpe
In April I completed a feat I never believed I would: I ran a marathon. Yep, I tackled the 26.2 mile beast in Manchester and lived to tell the tale (though my chafing scars mean my armpits will never look the same again).
Now I will spare you the clichés about ‘The Wall’/ best experience of life/atmosphere from crowds etc.
And I’m not going to whinge on about how you can be as ‘fit and fulfilled’ as I – especially as my ‘well-deserved break’ from running after the big day stretched a litttttttle too far and the love handles are now back.
But CAN I JUST SAY to anyone inspired by runners’ smug post-race social media posts ‘n’ pics or left goosebump-ridden by the atmosphere in the crowds at the London Marathon: DO IT.
Nothing will compare to crossing that line after the dark occurrences around the mile 21-mark (for me it was getting overtaken by a giant kangaroo that did it).
Yes, there’s a helluva lot of training involved, but if you’ve got the right attitude, enough time and decent equipment, completion on the day will be all the sweeter.
So to any would-be Farahs considering entering a 26-miler themselves: I can recommend a few essentials.
Of course, to run a marathon all you REALLY need is a decent pair of running shoes, spare time on your hands and steely determination.
But if you have a few coins knocking around and want to invest in some quality kit – as you will be using it a lot – here are some pointers.
The following got me through six pavement-pounding months when I had nothing but Pink’s greatest hits, rainy winter nights and bubble blisters for company.
Take note and all you’ll have to worry about on the day is deciding on your post-marathon bevvy of choice and making sure you milk every last whoop from the crowds.
Iffley Road shorts
Warning: these are a little on the skimpy side. Think The Hoff’s Baywatch swimmers, only darker. Needless to say they didn’t see much action in December, but by spring they made for an ideal lightweight option to keep me cool on long runs. Once you get over feeling like a streaker running through the streets, they’re great.
Buy it here for £60: https://www.iffleyroad.com/collections/women
Clingy and covered in reflector strips, this top makes even the most sluggish jogger (i.e. me on my first five-miler back in October) look and feel like a superhero. It’s thermal, so wear it as an underlayer in the nippier months. Also ideal for roadside runs because it’s pink and reflective – making it easy for cars to dodge.
Buy it here for £29: https://www.damart.co.uk/C-322635-sports
Sol Republic Relays Sport
For most amateur runners, music is a key part of motivation. These wireless earphones connect to your phone via Bluetooth and are extremely easy to use. Whoever’s your top music motivator (for me it’s cheesey old Flo Rida) you’ll be shocked at how freeing it is running without wires. Taking away detangling issues and the irritation of a cable hanging around your chest, leaves you with extra energy for running.
Buy it here for £59: http://store.hmv.com/technology/headphones-(1)/shadow-black-bluetooth-earphones
Inov-8 Road XTreme 250
The lightweight structure and bendy sole of this shoe meant they were perfect for speedy roadside runs. It’s not all about clocking up as many miles as possible, fitness points are also gained by smashing out shorter runs at full force. Extra points for the sporty-looking red and black design too, I felt like a pro even if everything else about my technique suggested I wasn’t.
Buy them here for £59.99: https://www.inov-8.com/
Arnica MSM Plus Cooling Gel
It’s not exactly breaking news, but: run a long way, you will get tired. During training I injured my ankle and got myself a cankle just 2.5 months before the race. This cooler gel soothed the burning pain and its anti-inflammatory properties reduced the swelling.
Buy it here for £16.99: http://medicare-europe.co.uk/our-products/arnica-msm-plus.html
2XU compression tights
These unforgiving leggings create a suction effect on your legs to increase blood flow to the thighs and calves and keep the muscles warm to reduce fatigue. The idea is to buy a pair as tight as possible for maximum effect; so don’t be surprised if yours look like a child-sized prank when they arrive. After a sweaty and undignified few minutes squeezing myself in I couldn’t deny that the compression effect made my leg muscles feel secure, powerful and less susceptible to injury.
Buy them here for £79: http://www.2xu.com/uk?&countryCode=GB
Saucony Hurricane ISO 3
…AKA bounce machines. If you purchase one thing from this list, make it these bad boys. Calling them ‘trainers’ is a disservice; with their heavily cushioned soles, at times it felt like I had springs attached to my feet as I bounded around north London. They pounded the pavements countless times and remained buoyant throughout, boasting strong durability. Nothing but holy words to say about these.
Buy them here for £125.99: https://www.sportsshoes.com/product/sau3045/saucony-hurricane-iso-3-women’s-running-shoes-~-ss17/
MaxiNutrition Fuelmax Gels
These little isotonic energy heroes cost less than £2 each but their powers are plentiful. A sugary burst that comes in at roughly 100 calories a pouch, each sachet fits easily into a pocket and weighs virtually nothing. When you start pounding out the ten-milers, these will become your best pal.
Buy a 24-pack here for £40.99: https://www.maxinutrition.com/maxinutrition/endurance/fuelmax-gel/