Best Running Gear to Train for Your First Marathon

Marathon runners
Candra Winata/Unsplash

Running a marathon is no walk in the park. Training for one requires a plan, time, commitment, determination, and the best gear in the game. While the couch-to-5k runner may be able to throw on an old pair of running shoes and be good to go, there’s no winging solid preparation for a 26.2-miler—whether it’s your first marathon or your next PB breaker. You need reliable running gear to go the distance.

Once you start logging serious training miles, you’ll want to be equipped with running gear to keep the whole experience optimal, safe, and injury-free—from hydration packs and calorie-dense snacks to high-performance clothes and the right pair of shoes. What do you need to gear up for a marathon like you mean it? Start with this essential list of running gear.

Male and female runners jogging on track

The Reluctant Runner's Guide to Running

Read article

Best Running Gear to Train for Your First Marathon

Single gray Asics Gel-Kayano 28 Training Shoe
Asics Gel-Kayano 28 Training Shoes Courtesy Image

1. Asics Gel-Kayano 28 Training Shoes

While Asics offers a number of great options, the Gel Kayano 28 is our top pick in the all-important shoe department—especially if you’re logging big miles and battling some injuries. A stability running shoe that provides extra support, the Gel Kayano features high-energy Blast FF cushioning, a low-profile heel that counter cradles your foot, a breathable mesh upper, and Dynamic Duomax that increases stability. Designed for all-distance training on roads and paved trails, this shoe covers all the bases while remaining stylish and comfortable.

[$160; asics.com]

Get it
Single red and yellow Asics MetaSpeed Sky shoe
Asics MetaSpeed Sky Courtesy Image

2. Asics MetaSpeed Sky

If your goal is simply to finish a marathon, you’ll be fine running it in your everyday trainers. If time is a bigger factor, a good pair of racing shoes will make a world of difference. There are lots of different brands that carry solid racing shoes, but we prefer to be consistent with the brand we wear for both training and racing. The MetaSpeed Sky features energetic midsole foam and a propulsive carbon plate which combine to help you conserve energy while keeping a consistent pace. Other thoughtful features include an engineered mesh upper, a curved sole design, grippy outsole rubber, and cushioning that improves compression and creates a responsive feel underfoot. The shoes are comfortable, incredibly lightweight, and help propel you with each step.

[$250; asics.com]

Get it
Green pair of Superfeet Run Comfort Inserts
Superfeet Run Comfort Inserts Courtesy Image

3. Superfeet Run Comfort Inserts

As far as running gear goes, this isn’t the flashiest, but if you’re injury prone, good inserts are crucial. Superfeet offers a variety of inserts, but our personal favorite is the Run Comfort insole—featuring a deep heel cup, medium to high arch shape, heel impact technology pod, Evolyte carbon fiber stabilizer cap, Aerospring rebound dual comfort foam, and long-lasting odor control. The whole combo here works to reduce foot fatigue while improving efficiency. Insoles generally take a couple days to break in, so try using them on a few walks before diving full force into running workouts. In the long run, they’ll do wonders to help you stay injury free.

[$50; superfeet.com]

Get it
2016 Boston Marathon

The essential marathon training plan

Your 16-week plan, plus pro tips for making it through a 26.2-mile race.
Read article
Two Camelbak Zephyr Vests, one with bottle inserts and another with hyrdration bladder insert
Camelbak Zephyr Vest Courtesy Image

4. Camelbak Zephyr Vest

When you’re putting in lots of miles, it’s essential to stay hydrated. Especially on trails without water stops, you’ll need to carry your own ergonomic stash. Cue Camelbak’s Zephyr Vest. The vest includes two quick-grab bottles, a secure cell phone pocket, a built-in safety whistle, and the option for inserting a hydration bladder. While running with a vest can be a bit annoying, the Zephyr is incredibly lightweight and engineered with body mapping for maximum ventilation—offering breathability, comfort—and water.

[$150; camelbak.com]

Get it
Black and dark-blue based pair of Smartwool Athlete Edition Run Mountain Print Crew Socks
Smartwool Athlete Edition Run Mountain Print Crew Socks Courtesy Image

5. Smartwool Athlete Edition Run Mountain Print Crew Socks

Until you invest in an optimal pair of running socks, you’ll never know what you were underestimating. Created in partnership with pro athlete Rob Krar, the Mountain Print Crew is everything you could want in a sock and more. The socks feature a minimal and targeted sole cushion, Achilles heel cushion, an ankle cushion, mesh venting, and ShredShield technology to reduce wear. Sporting a fun design, these socks are lightweight and breathable—keeping your feet cool, dry, and blister-free during those high-mileage training days.

[$26; smartwool.com]

Get it
Blue long sleeve shirt from the Patagonia Capilene Cool Apparel collection
Patagonia Capilene Cool Apparel Courtesy Image

6. Patagonia Capilene Cool Apparel

Patagonia’s Capilene Cool collection covers all your bases with tees, tanks, long sleeves, and pants. Like most things at Patagonia, these Fair Trade Certified sewn garments are created with the planet in mind—made from 52-100% recycled polyester. The fabric comes from Patagonia’s lightest-weight, quick-drying, moisture-wicking, odor-controlling technical material. Also important, it’s next-level comfortable.

[varied prices; patagonia.com]

Get it
Close up of a man exercising on rowing machine.

The 5 Coolest Marathons That Have Nothing to Do With Running

Read article
Pair of Oakley Half Jacket 2.0 XL running sunglasses
Oakley Half Jacket 2.0 XL Courtesy Image

7. Oakley Half Jacket 2.0 XL

Long runs under the sun call for a solid pair of shades. Designed for extended comfort and functionality, Oakley’s Half Jacket 2.0 running glasses feature lightweight O Matter frame material, Unobtainium earsocks and nosepads, and an interchangeable lens system. The glasses are available in polarized, Iridium, and Photochromic options. Best of all, they fit well and stay in place, so you can hardly tell you’re wearing them.

[$142; oakley.com]

Get it
green and gray BioLite HeadLamp 750
BioLite HeadLamp 750 Courtesy Image

8. BioLite HeadLamp 750

With everything else life throws your way, there just aren’t enough daylight hours to get in all of your training. For those days when your only option is to log miles in the wee hours of the morning or at night, a headlight is essential. BioLite’s HeadLamp 750 offers eight different modes, including two rear red light options so you can not only see but be seen as well. The headlamp is lightweight and form fitting, so it’s comfortable to wear on those long, dark, commitment-testing training sessions.

[$142; bioliteenergy.com]

Get it
Gettyimages 512763196 51ec3fbc c3f1 496c a814 d39f0472ab27

Why Japan Is the Most Running-Obsessed Culture in the World

Read article
Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE running watch
Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE Courtesy Image

9. Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE

Aside from your shoes and the shirt on your back, a good watch is your most essential piece of gear. The Garmin Forerunner 945 does it all. It’s got built in assistance, live tracking, event sharing, daily suggested workouts, training plans, and a race predictor. It also tracks your recovery time, VO2 max, heart rate, and mileage—while allowing you to store everything on the compatible app. Having a watch that does it all allows you to plan out your training, keep yourself in check, and neatly file all of your data and workouts on a single wrist.

[$650; garmin.com]

Get it

32 oz container of Gnarly Whey protein powder
Gnarly Whey Courtesy Image

10. Gnarly Whey

When you’re logging double-digit runs, it can be tough to get in enough calories and protein. Available in chocolate and vanilla, Gnarly Whey is derived from antibiotic-free, non-rBGH grass-fed cow’s milk and delivers healthy fats, omega-3 acids, and 25 grams of protein per serving. Mix it into a post-run smoothie to reap the benefits of all the essential nutrients it offers.

[$56; 32 oz; gonarly.com]

Get it

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!