My Marathon Training Must-Haves

Now that marathon training is ramping up, I find myself constantly turning to the same few, tried-and-true items I swear by when it comes to running. I’m a pretty firm believer that we as humans — especially in 2016 — have found a million and one ways to over-complicate the sport. There are so many gadgets and gizmos a-plenty, not to mention the whose-its and whats-its galore. (Couldn’t help myself there. Sorry.) Here are my favorite thingamabobs that help me run happy, healthy, and chafe-free.

Body Glide

Of course this is first. I love Body Glide. (And recently wrote about my love for it over on I apply it liberally before every run, particularly between my thighs (there is no thigh gap happening over here), under my arms, and, depending on the sports bra, around the places the bra rubs my skin. Body Glide is a life-saver, a skin-saver, and a happy shower-saver. Your post-long run shower will not be happy if you should have used Body Glide but didn’t. (If you’ve never used it, Body Glide rolls on like deodorant. It’s not messy or greasy or sticky, and is made specifically for endurance athletes.)

HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 3 shoes

I love a little cushion. OK, a lot of cushion. I started in the Cliftons, then progressed to the Clifton 2, and am now in the Clifton 3. I like this update, which is still light and cushion-y and provides max support and cloud-like running conditions. (And I’m proud to be a HOKA ambassador!)

Also important: a good running buddy! (JK. She hasn't started running yet.)
Also important: a good running buddy! (JK. She hasn’t started running yet.)

Lululemon’s All Sport Shorts

These spandex shorts have a high, wide waistband and two huge pockets. Sadly they are discontinued, so I’m just constantly rotating through the few pair I have.

Lululemon High Speed Socks

What do I say about socks? These are my favorites. Just say no to “regular” socks. Fork over a little more money for the good ones. It’s worth it.

Lululemon’s Rack Pack and a New Balance bra that has since been discontinued

The Rack Pack definitely doesn’t provide as much support as I need, but it’s so soft and comfortable. It is no secret that I am not flat-chested, and I require ample support up top. If you’re in my camp, you know that generally means we don’t get cute, strappy bras — not for running, and not often in life, either. The Rack Pack provides OK enough support that I wear it when I want to be comfortable. The New Balance bra (I received it at an event and I don’t know what it’s called and haven’t been able to find it since) provides loads of support, it’s just not quite as cozy. But it’s my go-to for long runs and races. I’ve also run in the Moving Comfort Juno, which I like, though I have been known to pull muscles getting it on and off. (If you have a favorite sports bra, please let me know!)

Blister Blocks

I don’t get blisters from my running shoes, but I tend to get them from other shoes. (Less so now that I work from home, though, and am barefoot or in slippers 80 percent of the time.) I’ve sworn by Band-Aid Blister Blocks since my days as a dancer.

Isang Smith

Need a sports massage in NYC? Go to Isang. I plan to see her once a month throughout training for regular tuneups.

Finish Line Physical Therapy

Another place I’ll be hitting up regularly this training cycle. Finish Line is the best.


November Project

I don’t make it to NP as often now that I live across the river (and not a mere mile away from the Wednesday workouts), but I still count on the workouts for physical and mental boosts. Between the sweat and the people, I couldn’t do it without NP. Nor would I want to.

Amrita and Lew: two of my NP faves.
Amrita and Lew: two of my NP faves.

The Weehawken Waterfront Park and Recreation Center Track

Track Tuesday is one of my favorite days of the week. I love pushing myself on the track each week, and love not having to measure the distance. One loop of the track is 400m (.25 miles). Do the math accordingly.

Track selfie. I tried.
Track selfie. I tried.


I used to make fun of Brian for being so in love with Strava. It was a rule in our home that I couldn’t bother Brian within 20 minutes of getting home from his bike rides because he needed that time to upload his data to Strava and analyze and compare it accordingly. We joked about it so often that I vowed to “always pretend to be interested” in his Strava data in our wedding vows. But now I, too, am on Strava, and I, too, get the hype. Get on it!

My SPIbelt

This is my go-to method for stashing my essentials on race day. The belt fits my phone, ID, and credit card, which is all I generally take with me when I’m racing. For longer races and runs, it can also hold a handful of gels. Ugh. Gels. I forgot about that part of marathon training until right this second.

SPIbelt. Functional and looks cool. Like a fanny pack. (I wear it backward.)
SPIbelt. Functional and looks cool. Like a fanny pack. (I wear it backward.)

Your support!

Seriously. The running community, online and beyond, is so powerful and gives me so much motivation and inspiration. Thank you for always making me want to work harder, do better, run faster, and get stronger. I love you.

Smiles and sweaty girls a-plenty.
Smiles and sweaty girls a-plenty.

CHIME IN: Got any running must-haves the world should know about? Got a favorite sports bra I should try? What about non-earbud headphones I should try? #help



18 Responses

  1. Have you tried the Moving Comfort Rebound Racer? Similar to the Juno (and I find it equally supportive), but less shell-like in the front and much easier to put on. Also, much cuter. People like the Fiona, which is similar to the Juno, but the Fiona doesn’t have a racerback so it’s easier to put on. I am anti-Fiona though: A) All my workout tops have racerbacks, and B) The racerback def adds support in my opinion. Sigh.

    I think the Lululemon bras are so cute, but none of them fit me well – I feel like they’re mostly just not designed for the well-endowed.

    1. Thanks for the rec — I’ve heard of the Rebound Racer but I don’t think I’ve tried it! I’ll look into it! And I agree re: the Fiona. I used to love it, but like you, all my tops are racerback-style, and I don’t like the straps on the Fiona. I also find it SUPER unibooby and not very flattering. Also agree about the Lulu bras — they’re so comfortable for everyday stuff (or even yoga and some forms of cross-training), but for running they’re less than ideal. And people have recommended the TaTa Tamer, but it doesn’t fit me well — I end up with major side boob somehow. The perils we face…

  2. +1 for the Moving Comfort Fiona! I am only modestly endowed, but I need them to STAY PUT. The slightest flop makes me so uncomfortable.

    I personally prefer Sport Shield to Body Glide, but anything that prevents a chafe is all good by me. 🙂

  3. Big-chested runners unite! I used to love Moving Comfort sports bras (Maia esp), and still do, but since I discovered Panache I haven’t worn anything else. Plus they have tons of colors on Amazon!

  4. I’m glad you wrote this post – I was curious about your belt after reading your last race recap. I currently use a flipbelt, which I really like, but I think yours would give me easier access to my phone. The flipbelt is SO good at securely holding my phone that it can be a pain to get it in and out. The spibelt also looks like it would be better for if I wanted to listen to podcasts on my phone while running, which I don’t do right now but I may want to experiment with that on some longer runs.

  5. I am obsessed with my FlipBelt. It holds everything: my phone, keys, gels, tissues when I’m on a trail run and…..things get urgent. And lululemon tracker shorts are my absolute favorite!

  6. Moving Comfort Fiona! I think we have similar body shapes (smallish but with outsize chests) and I SWEAR by this bra. I have the Juno too and while it’s comfortable, it’s so hard to get on and off that I avoid wearing it, but the Fiona holds me in like a corset, doesn’t chafe, AND is simple on & off. It’s amazing.

  7. Your Lululemon shorts sound very like the Sweaty Betty marathon shorts I run in: two side pockets, lightweight, big waistband. Don’t know if Sweaty Betty is in the US (I’m UK based) but could be worth exploring if you need an update?
    Thanks for the body glide rec too. 🙂

  8. I totally understand you on the ear bud issues! The new model Apple ones work great for me. Different shape to them. But did you know you can still get Sony headband style off EBay? Well, if you don’t mind being a little out of date. I love those things!
    I just got a Fitletic water belt that I love too. It doesn’t bounce because you wear it low on your hips. I highly recommend it!

  9. I am *quite* busty and enjoy running and played college basketball, so the quest for a sports bra that is supportive, comfy, and not horrible to look at has been epic. Best one I’ve found: Natori Yogi Racerback. Pricey, but worth it!

  10. Hey Ali! I have a completely off-topic-to-this-post question.

    I’m getting married in three weeks (!!) and I just finished going over your wedding blog posts. Loved them! We’re also doing a cocktail reception rather than a formal sit down dinner so that people can mingle while they eat. What was the timeline for your reception? I’m a little concerned that without the formality of a sit down dinner, that the dancing will start too soon and the night will feel long for people. Although… is there a such thing as TOO much dancing? Curious to hear what you guys did. 🙂

    1. Aaaaah so exciting! Congratulations! Our timeline was basically an hour or so for everyone arriving with passed appetizers and chill-ish music (so not TOTALLY encouraging dancing yet, though people were definitely eager to dance!). Then we did our introductions (parents, bridal party, us) and dances: Brian and me, me and my dad, Brian and his mom. After that they announced that dinner was available (we had buffet-style options in addition to the trays of food going around, but no formal seating) and I think from there the party started. We basically had an all-out dance party for five hours straight. I wish I had a more helpful timeline, but we basically told our coordinator and DJ to just feel it out and roll with it. We never did a cake cutting because the dance floor was packed and we didn’t want to interrupt the fun! SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!! (No such thing as too much dancing!)

  11. Aerie actually makes my most loved sports bra- my boobs are pretty average but i like nipple coverage so I opt for a lightly padded bra. Body glide is great for biking too so I’ve been applying it liberally throughout triathlon season.

  12. I love my Simple Hydration water bottles. Tuck right into the back of my shorts (my faves are the discontinued Lululemon What the Sport too! I bought extras new on eBay) or I can carry 2 if I use my SpiBelt.

    And I fill them with UCAN hydrate. I love the stuff.

    Body Glide forever!

  13. Love it, definitely some new things on here that I have never tried! I am with you on the good quality socks… I can never go back to wearing crappy socks running. Support is probably one of the biggest things for me and not feeling like you’re doing it alone!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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