If you are running the Chicago Marathon like me, you probably checked your longest run off your schedule last weekend. I had the pleasure of completing my 20 miler with the Chicago Area Runners Association along the lakefront trail. This, point to point, training run is hosted every year by CARA, which begins at Montrose track and finishes at Jackson Park. Runners are encouraged to park at Montrose and hop on a shuttle bus at the finish.
I’ve run this event for the past several years and enjoy the predictability and stability that the race provides. The training run is fully support with aid stations every couple of miles. Much of the mileage is done on the lakefront path, which is generally a good place to people watch and be distracted. Upon finishing, all runners receive a finisher’s shirt, bottle of water, and seat on a school bus, as we are driven back to our cars. It is an untimed race, designed only to assist runners in tackling this enormous feat.
Many runners will tell you that the 20 miler is the hardest part of marathon training, even harder than the marathon itself. It is the first time that many runners have gone that far and there is something about ticking past the teens into the twenties that is both mentally and physically strenuous. Don’t get me wrong, the last 6.2 miles of a marathon are incredibly difficult, but at that point, you know you are probably going to finish. I always say to myself, you can do anything for 6 miles. You’ve done the bulk of the work.
I shared the trail with many novice runners, some getting ready to tackle their first marathon ever. I am so proud of how everyone handled the elements. It got incredibly hot as the morning hours ticked on. And there is little to no shade on the LFT, so we felt every degree as it rose. Runners gutted through it, some even having the course taken down as they finished each mile.
During long mileage, what you wear becomes very important. And when you combine heat and humidity, with mileage, your clothing matters even more.
I have talked about the lululemon Speed Up Mid-Rise Lined Short before, and these classics still hold firm as my number one performance short.
I wore these during my long run and had zero issues. I had no chaffage, no riding up, no sagging down. These are my go-to running shorts and I plan to wear them at all of my fall marathons. There are a multitude of reasons that I like this style, but one of the main ones is the zipper pocket. I have had owned shorts with no pockets (totally annoying), open pockets (equally annoying), and drawstring pockets (slightly less annoying). I know I am being extremely repetitive here, but there is nothing like a zipper pocket in my running shorts. I mean, otherwise my car key goes…where?
This short has two lengths – a 4 and 2.5 incher. I always go for the shorter length because I’m a short gal, but both lengths offer the top performance traits that this short is known for, so go with what you feel good in.
I also tried out a new running top and am now hooked. For the 20 miler, I wore the SenseKnit Running Tank Top.
This top is designed specifically for running and you can tell. It doesn’t bounce, sway, or otherwise move to cause chafing and irritation. It’s cropped length helps with cooling and tight frame means my arms don’t swing into the sides of it. It’s breathable, with light, sweat-wicking fabric. The design was ideal for the warmer temps and longer mileage. Not to mention, it’s super cute and trendy. Lululemon stays in front of trends, helping runners to stay sharp.
As we lead into taper time and making final preparations for race day, keep in mind a few things. First, take pride in knowing that your 20 miler is behind you. You’ve tackled it and know can prepare for how you will react, both emotionally and physically. You also got a good feel for how your body reacts in heat. If you walked away from that 20 miler with irritation under your arms or sports bra, make some changes.
Explore different clothing options and take those out for some miles. Look into the various lubricant options that are out there and lather it on. I personally like Bluerub – it’s all natural, fragrance free, and doesn’t wash off with sweat, water, or Gatorade, which I may or may not spill all over myself every time I try to drink during a race. Seriously, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s like, I hit an aid station and suddenly forget how to drink. It’s coming out my nose, going down my shirt, dribbling out of my mouth. I revert to a toddler, although most 2 year olds could probably handle a sippy cup better than I handle those aid station paper cups.
Going back to race day prep…find an outfit that works for you. The longer you go, the more important this is. Any training book will tell you to find gear that fits you well, moves with your body, and is appropriate for the weather at hand. That’s most important. But, I’d like to add that you should also find clothing that makes you feel good. If you look in the mirror on race morning and say “yeah, you’re looking hot”, you have no idea what that confidence will do for you. So don’t go just for performance value, find something that also gives you that hottie-hot feeling that will inspire you to run further.
Take this next week and a half to prepare, rest, and enjoy the build up to, in my opinion, the number one marathon in the world, the Chicago Marathon.