Most important Marathon Training Tip: Don't forget your shoes!

For a marathoner, the most essential piece of equipment is your running shoes. You can survive without your GPS sports watch, you can probably find a suitable singlet and pair of running shorts and every marathon expo has loads of gels, powders and headbands. But your shoes are essential because your shoes are unique to you in that you hopefully broke them in sufficiently for the big day. Yes you can usually find a similar pair at the marathon expo but you really want to avoid running in shoes bought/used less than 3 weeks before Race Day.

Sometimes, however, you cannot avoid it.

In 2004, a couple of my runner friends and I decided to run the Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon. It was a relatively short drive from Chicago and we figured it would be a great Spring Marathon. On the drive out, Jeannie realized she forgot her running shoes at home. She came to this realization just as we passed the theoretical point of no return on our road trip. Because of our work schedules and finances at the time, we didn’t bake any additional time into our trip i.e. it was too late to turn the car around and go back for the shoes because we had to be at the hotel in time for our marathon pasta dinner.

Jeannie had to get someone from the local shoe store to open the shop (they close early on Saturdays in Ohio). Luckily, they had her brand and size in stock. It’s not an ideal situation because you want to run your marathon in a pair of shoes that you have broken in, but it is better than nothing.

A couple weekends ago, my runner friend Drea ran the Berlin Marathon. She and her husband made a trip out of it by flying to Amsterdam and Prague before boarding a train to Berlin. One of her flights was delayed and this domino-ed with other connecting flights which caused their luggage to not arrive in Prague at the same time as they did. The same luggage that had her race gear, including her running shoes. Luckily, Drea’s luggage arrived a few hours before her train departed for Berlin. She too was prepared to overpay for new shoes that would have matched her MIA pair.

I avoid this problem by going to the extreme.

One spring years ago, I flew to Paris to run its marathon (also with Jeannie). It was just a few years post 9/11 and a few months before we declared war on Iraq. Suffice it to say I wanted to be prepared in case something didn’t go as planned with my luggage. I wore my running shoes and as much of the running clothes I planned to race in as possible. I had my jacket with gloves, my singlet and even my running socks. In my carry on bag, I had my running shorts and tights since I wasn’t sure what the weather would be like until race morning. Otherwise, I just might have shown up on the flight wearing either one or possibly both. Basically I dressed for the flight as if I would start the marathon the minute I landed.

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Filed under: Marathon Monday

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