Before and after each big race I am often asked about my gear. What shoes did I run in? what nutrition did I take etc. I always enjoy a running shoe chat and sharing my opinions on them and race strategies. Last week I posted my HOPES & DREAMS for the Tokyo Marathon, which is kind of a race strategy if you can call winging it on the day a strategy.
This week I thought I would share most of my Tokyo gear with you as I am packing. If the worst comes to the worst and I lose everything, at least I will have an accurate record of what I took for the insurance claim.
I won’t bore you with details of what jeans, tops, socks, pants and jackets I am taking for day to day wear around Tokyo but I will list what my race morning routine is before heading out to the start corrals. I will also mention my day to day shoes, they are run related:
Day to Day Shoes:
So the ASICS Gel Nimbus 20 London Edition shoes are my go-to shoe for daily wear, I absolutely love them, they are nicely cushioned and the extra padding around the heal area makes them super comfortable. I will be flying in these and doing all of my sightseeing in them. One thing I never do is wear my race shoes for anything other than the race.
Race Morning Routine:
Ever since I ran the NEW YORK CITY MARATHON 2017 I have taken my Good Lucky Daddy card with me, my daughter made this for me 18 months ago and this card has been to four international marathons with me, it gives me a little boost every time I see it on the side, even thousands of miles away from home.
Race morning breakfast is the same as every single long training run, porridge. All part of the routine and all part of staying consistent. I can’t always guarantee that the hotel breakfast will be open before I head out or that porridge will be on the menu, so I always take two pots with me and just in case the hotel room does not have a kettle, I take a small travel kettle. It may be a little OTT but it is one less thing to stress and worry about.
Once fed and watered, it is time to get ready.
I will lay out everything I need on race day, the night before and in the order I put them on. My actual race gear is listed further down but for now, these are the bits that fit around that.
I will always take my own safety pins. Most races provide you with four pins at the expo but what if they don’t or what happens if you lose some? I bring my own bag then I know I have that covered and no need to worry. If given the choice at the expo, I won’t take their safety pins, I will re-use what I have acquired over the years.
Next is the Body Glide, I prefer this to vaseline. I find that it is longer lasting and more effective. I have not had any chaffing issues since swapping in 2018.
I will then pack my gels into my race belt (see next section for the belt). My go-to gels are the Science in Sport Go Isotonic Energy gel, for this race I am taking the cherry flavor, in the past I have used orange, tropical, fruit salad and lemon & lime. There aren’t many flavors that I don’t like, I don’t tend to take the chocolate ones out on long runs but anything else I am game. I will take 6 gels out with me and take one gel every 30 minutes. With 22g of carbohydrate per gel, I find that this frequency works well for me and keeps the carb levels high enough to see me through a marathon.
I will also take the Science in Sport Go Hydro tablets out with me, I won’t take this to the race start but in the days leading up to the race I will pop a tablet into my 600ml water bottle and take this with me to ensure I am sufficiently hydrated in the build-up to the race.
Ok so race gear. At a quick glance, this will look like a lot of stuff but I take clothing to cover all kinds of weather, hence there being two tops, gloves, hats, sunglasses and two pairs of shoes offering differing levels of grip.
It is worth noting, all of this gear here will be packed in my carry on bag and kept very close by at all times. Imagine losing your race gear and having to run the race in new shoes.
The current weather forecast, one week out, is for a very wet race. I am taking two pairs of race shoes as one pair offers more grip than the other.
After running a massive 1:58 10k PB at TATTON PARK 10K three weeks ago, my racing shoe of choice is now the Nike Vaporfly 4%. The softness in the foam on foot strike is like no other, I came out of that race with feet and legs feeling as fresh as on the drive to the venue. The feedback from the shoe literally feels like it is pushing you down the road and the carbon plate inside gives you unbelievable stability. That said, there were some wet patches on the Tatton Park course and I did not feel like I had the grip to push off, I slipped a few times. My plan is to try a few runs around Tokyo in the days before the race and get a better feel for the grip in the rain.
If I am not happy with the Vaporfly grip, then I am also taking my Nike Zoom Pegasus 35 Turbo, which effectively is the next level down from the vaporfly without the carbon footplate but still that great soft landing and feeling of being pushed down the road. I have run 120 miles in these shoes in the dry, wet and even snow, I am very confident with the grip levels this shoe offer. My last two long runs were in this shoe and I’ll be honest, my feet have never felt so good after two and a half hours of running and they are FAST!!
No matter what shoe I run in, I swap the insoles out for the Enertor Performance Insoles. I was gifted these from Enertor and I am a brand ambassador for them so you can take what you want from this, but I wouldn’t risk running or racing in them if I wasn’t happy with how my feet and legs felt with them in my shoe. These insoles offer more cushioning on landing, they soften the impact of your foot hitting the surface which in turn reduces the risk of injury from that repetitive impact over 26.2 miles. I really like them and feel that they help my running and post-race recovery.
Running top wise, I don’t have any go-to top. I have long sleeved, short sleeved and singlets from all brands in differing styles and colours. For this race, I just happen to have picked the pink (it is pink, not red as the photo looks) Nike AeroReact top, basically because it matches my socks.
I am also taking my Gym Shark base layer, the thinking behind that was I can wear that under my Nike AeroReact top if it was cold, the race is early March after all. The current weather forecast for race time is looking likely to be between 9’c – 14’c which means I won’t wear the base layer, but I have it just in case the weather changes. Hey, it’s not often they get the forecast wrong right? lol.
Similarly to the Gym Shark Base Layer, I am taking the Nike Dri-FIT Element running glove in case it is cold but more than likely won’t use on race day now.
Short wise, I am taking the Nike Challenger 5″ shorts, I have not had any chaffing issues with these shorts, even when running in the rain. On hot days they are great at wicking sweat away from the body too.
I always wear a hat on race day, this helps to keep the sun and rain out of my eyes at the same time as stopping the sweat running off my head and yep I am a sweaty runner so it is needed, plus it helps to hide my ever decreasing hairline. For the last six months, I have used the Nike Dri-FIT Running cap.
Socks, I have found that I have a need for compression socks, especially over long distance. I have suffered from calf cramping in the past, since I swapped to wearing over the calf compression socks, I have not had any calf cramping. Whether that was the cure or not, it works so I stick with it. I tried a number of different brands of sock before settling on the TIUX Compression Socks, importing them from Canada isn’t cheap but they are a far greater tightness than any other sock I tried, not so tight that they cut circulation off but I like them to feel tight to give me that confidence.
So the other running accessories I take out with me are the Wahoo TICKR chest heart rate monitor, the anker sport armband so I have my phone with me if I feel the need to take any photos before, during and most definitely after the race. I use the Fitletic running pouch for carrying my gels. I brought this to use during triathlons but I find it very useful during marathons too. I can fit 6 gels in the loops on the sides plus there is the waterproof zipped pouch which can fit my iPhone 8 & Samsung S9 (I have to carry two phones in training with being on 24×7 support at work) or the pouch can fit 4 gels in. My preference is to store 2 gels in the loops and 4 in the pouch. I found in the past that the gels in the loops can rub against my side, not all the time but it happened on a few occasions. Last but not least are my Oakley Jawbreaker sunnies, I probably won’t be wearing these in the rain as I have not got the yellow lenses anymore.
I will take a Science in Sport Go Caffeine shot to the start with me, I take this 30 minutes before the race start to give my body that added caffeine boost to get me going soon as the gun fires.
Post-Race / Recovery
The post-race recovery routine is tried and tested and the same as every long run.
In my bag drop bag I take a shaker with 50g of Science in Sport Rego protein powder. This is so I can fill that with water and have that initial protein hit as soon as I pick my bag up after the race, in most cases, this is within 30 minutes of crossing the finish line, which gives my battered muscles the extra protein they need to regrow and recover. Also in my bag are my Oofos recovery sandals, again as soon as I get my bag, the race shoes and socks are off and the Oofos foam recovery sandals are on, their tag line is “Feel the ooo” and that is exactly what you say when you slip them on after 3 hours of running.
Once back in the hotel and showered I apply some DOMS Ease Oil to the calf, quad and glute areas, this really aides the recovery and I find it does help to prevent or at least lessen the muscle ache in the days after the race.
I also take my foam roller with me, this isn’t something I will do the night after the race, I like to give the muscles a day or two before going to town on them with the roller, but every night in the lead up to the race, I will roll them out.