Our Favorite Running Gear for Marathons and Ultramarathons

Three trail runners run together during the summer

The marathon is perhaps the most iconic race distance.

At 26.2 miles, the marathon’s sheer length makes it a daunting physical challenge, and the time you spend on your feet is an equal test of your mental toughness.

If 26.2 miles wasn’t enough for you, there’s also a growing number of ultramarathons that push you even farther out of your comfort zone.

So if you signed up for a marathon (or beyond), you need running gear that will help you along the way. With technical running shirts and hydration vests built specifically for long distances, this marathon running gear will be with you from start to finish.

Marathon Gear Checklist

  • Comfortable running shoes
  • Sweat-wicking socks
  • Technical running top
  • Running bra
  • Running shorts, tights or pants
  • Hydration System
  • Nutrition plan
  • Chafe protection
  • Recovery gear

The Shoes

A runner slips on the New Balance 1080 before a workout

Your feet will need to carry you a long way, so keeping them comfortable is your top priority. We recommend that you get fit for shoes by an expert at your local Fleet Feet so they can analyze which shoes are best for your foot shape. Your training shoe is designed for your training runs, as opposed to the race itself.

When you’re running high mileage, you may want to consider more than one pair of shoes to rotate throughout your training. Just like different golf clubs are used for different shots, you can benefit from using different types of shoes for speed workouts as opposed to recovery runs and long runs.

Race shoes are designed to give you an advantage on the big day. Gone are the days when a racing shoe was simply as lightweight as possible, leaving little cushion to protect you from the pounding of the road.

Today’s “super shoes” use new and innovative technologies to make racing shoes highly cushioned to protect your body from the impact of running. They are also impressively light weight and many are made with a carbon plate to return energy, delay fatigue and help you run faster.

And the longer your race, the more benefit you can get from a carbon plated shoe over time. That’s why you see so many people wearing them at marathons around the country. They really work.

No matter which shoes you choose, test them in your training to be sure that the fit and feel are right before you get to the starting line.

The Tops

An assortment of women's running gear for a marathon

A technical running shirt will make your race a whole lot more comfortable.

Cotton T-shirts will soak up sweat and moisture, and they dry slowly. Running in a wet shirt is uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. So get yourself a top that fits well and is made for running.

A shirt like the men’s Craft Core Charge singlet or the women’s rabbit lightning tank will wick sweat away from your skin and dry quickly, so you stay comfortable for all 26.2 miles.

Like a good pair of running shoes, women also need a sports bra that provides ample support, mops up sweat and doesn’t irritate skin. Bras are personal, so test a few to see which bra is the best for you and your body.

Some of our favorite bras are the Brooks Drive Convertible Run bra, which provides compressive support without restricting movement, and the Handful Y-Back bra, which offers high-impact support with extra coverage. When you’re running for hours on end, there’s always the chance the weather can turn sour. One of our favorite layers for the unexpected is the On Weather Jacket. Built with a durable water-repellent coating, the Weather Jacket is the perfect protection against wind and rain.

The Bottoms

An assortment of men's running gear for a marathon

Shorts and leggings made specifically for running are designed to let you move freely so you can focus on your pace.

One of our favorite running shorts for men is the On Hybrid Short. The Hybrid Short is built from lightweight technical four-way stretch fabric and includes a detachable internal compression short that can be worn on its own.

For women, we love the On Active Tight and Brooks Chaser Short.

The Active Tight is soft and supportive, thanks to a smooth polyester fabric that moves with your body for a second-skin feel. Both bottoms include pockets that are perfect for stashing a few essentials.

The Chaser Short comes in lengths of 3”, 5” and 7” and in a variety of colorways. The lightweight fabric wicks away sweat and dries quickly.

The Socks

Having the best running socks is a non-negotiable part of your training and race day kits.

Compression helps improve blood flow so you feel fresher for longer. That’s why we like the CEP Compression Sock 3.0.

The medical-grade compression in the 3.0 can help reduce swelling and muscle strain, which can help you recover faster. High-tech fibers mitigate moisture to keep you dry during your longest runs.

For runners who don’t want compression, the Feetures Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab will keep your feet happy. The socks are cut specifically for your left and right foot to eliminate bagginess that can cause hot spots and blisters. Plus, the nylon, polyester and spandex blend delivers a snug fit and excellent moisture management.

The Accessories

Hydration and Nutrition

You’ll need to carry water and a fuel source with you for long runs. Your body requires fuel for any run longer than an hour. That means finding a comfortable way to carry water and your fuel source of choice, be it gels, chews, bars, etc. This is crucial to test during training.

Nathan packs make carrying your water and calories a breeze.

The Nathan VaporKrar 2.0 4L and Nathan VaporHowe 12L were designed in collaboration with elite ultrarunners Rob Krar and Stephanie Howe. The packs each hold two soft flasks on the front and work with extra bladders so you can haul all the H2O you need, and they have enough storage space to stash energy gels, chews or whatever else you like to eat on the go.

Your training sessions are the perfect time to test different nutrition products to see what works best for your body. Try different products during long runs and high-intensity speed workouts so that you can simulate a race environment and prepare your body accordingly.

Fleet Feet runners recommend Maurten energy gels for marathons. Maurten uses a unique hydrogel to help transport carbs and sodium through your stomach and into your intestines, where it can be absorbed easily, minimizing the chance of an upset stomach.

Chafing protection

Stop chafing before it interrupts your training or the race itself. For your longest, toughest runs, Squirrel’s Nut Butter is your skin’s best friend. The all-natural formula is made with coconut oil, cocoa butter, beeswax and vitamin E oil. Use the tub or stick to apply it anywhere that you tend to chafe. It’s weather-resistant, long-lasting and restorative to dry skin.

Recovery gear

Recovery isn’t just for after the race––it’s a crucial part of staying injury-free throughout your training process. Help your body recover from long runs and speed workouts with massage tools.

Fleet Feet runners recommend the Hyperice Hypervolt Bluetooth. The lightweight ergonomic design can release tension in the tightest muscles and help you activate areas before you run and recover after you’re done.

The Trigger Point foam roller delivers firm compression for stiff muscles. It helps release muscle adhesions and gets blood flowing so you can get back to your training.

Plantar fasciitis can wreak havoc on your training as you spend more time on your feet. The R3 roller was designed to loosen and stretch the plantar fascia and reduce pressure on different areas of the foot. Use the R3 to warm up your feet before your run and to help them recover afterward.

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