I got an email the other day from a reader asking for advice about running her first half-marathon.
She said she’d been running a 5K every month since December 2011 and wanted to know if I thought she could be ready to run her first half, the Miami ING (which, looks awesome!), by January 2013, if she trained responsibly.
YES! I wrote back. Most half-marathon training programs, even for novices, are about three months. (Like my buddy Hal’s.)
She then wrote back, “When should I start considering adding extras into my training, or should I even consider them at all? I see a lot of bloggers talk about Gu, compression sleeves and fancy GPS watches.”
Hey J, I’m just gonna answer your question here, okay?
You don’t need a fancy GPS watch. Or compression sleeves/socks. Gu? You probably need some sort of “fuel” beyond 45-60 minutes. Most people do, though there are some people who can get through without any fuel.
[Disclosures: any Amazon links are affiliates; New Balance is a client of mine, but I really just like their stuff, too.]
What You Should Invest In:
A good pair of sneakers. If you can, go get your gait analyzed at a running specialty store. This is a great way to find out whether you overpronate or not or have any other sort of issues going on. Also, these people work with runners all day long.
The 860s are traditional stability shoes and were named Editor’s Choice by Runner’s World last year; the Mirage is a lighter-weight shoe with just a bit of stability. I started running in the Sauconys after the NYC Marathon (so I’m not sure what they’re like for 13+ miles); before that, I was running in Saucony ProGrid Guides or Rides–more similar to the New Balances.
A good sports bra. If that sort of thing matters to you. I was sent the Under Armour Armour Bra to review; it’s supposed to be amazing and tons of research was put into it, but it was just another bra to me.
The sports bras in my rotation: Nike Pro Compression (because boob compression is SUPER sexy), New Balance Tonic Crop and see that nude one in the back? My gym was selling them peddling them as sports bras, but it was pretty cheap and I’d forgotten a sports bra, so I tried this Coobie bra. Again, I’m not super-picky when it comes to bras, but it worked fine for a run on the treadmill, and I can definitely wear it with normal clothes, which makes it worth a lot more to me than the other sports bras.
ANYWAY, a good sports bra is something you probably need. But good definitely doesn’t have to be a Lululemon Ta-Ta tamer.
Gu. (Or some kinda of fuel) If you’re running more than 45-60 minutes, you probably need Gu or some other kind of fuel (other suggestions from Women’s Running) to replenish your glycogen stores and keep you going.
Foam Roller Foam rollers are awesome for rolling out all of the lactic acid and other crap that accumulates in your legs after lots of running. You can get them fairly affordably on Amazon, OR you can just use a frozen water bottle (but a big one–like 2+ liters) or a rolling pin.
What’s Nice to Have But Not Needed
Garmin. A GPS watch definitely qualifies as a nice-to-have but is not necessary. If you have a smartphone, you can use RunKeeper or MapMyRun–or you can just use a regular sports watch and time how long you’re out and then map it when you get home. Sure, you won’t know your individual splits, but plenty of runners got by for years without knowing their individual splits, and I know plenty of people who have qualified for Boston without a Garmin. Before I got my Garmin, I’d been using the Nike+ app. Caveat: I will say that once I got past 6 miles, it was less than accurate. That was when I decided to ask for the Garmin for Christmas.
Nowadays, Garmin isn’t the only GPS watch option (or maybe it never was the only option, but blogs just convinced me they’d cornered the market). My favorite client New Balance makes a GPS watch as does Timex. Both are right around $100.
Compression Socks/Sleeves. I finally bought a pair last year–after I’d run one marathon and 8 or 9 halfs, which is to say these definitely aren’t a need, unless you’re having some sort of issue in your legs. I bought CEP compression because that’s what my running store had, but I would imagine you could probably also wear medical compression socks and get away with them for cheaper.
There are so many random things I’ve picked up through a few years of running and blogging about running, but the above (and a thing of Vaseline/Body Glide and a decent outfit and socks) are really all you need. The rest of it is just nice-to-have.
Oh, I made a super-quick, easy dinner tonight: frozen Trader Joe’s sweet pototo gnocchi with roasted Brussels sprouts and a turkey burger.
Runners, what would you say you *need* to run? What are just your nice-to-haves?