When I decided to start training for a 100-mile (160 km) ultramarathon, I had little more than a pair of shoes as far as running equipment went. I quickly discovered that a sport technically requiring zero gear whatsoever – you can run barefoot and in the nude, after all – has available a lot more gear than expected.
None of the items here are required for training for an ultramarathon (or “regular” marathon), but all of them are pieces of running gear I have personally used and found to be helpful during my training (and on race day).
Garmin fenix 7X Sapphire Solar Multisport GPS Watch
I resisted the urge to get a watch for running for a long time because I thought my phone was just as useful. When I finally got one I kicked myself for waiting so long. I’m currently using the Garmin fenix 7X Sapphire Solar and I love everything about it – literally zero complaints thus far. The battery life is amazing (lasted my entire 100-mile ultramarathon with juice to space) and the features are incredible. If the 7X (larger version) is too big, there’s also the (“regular” size) fenix 7 Sapphire Solar and an even smaller version, the fenix 7S Sapphire Solar.
FlipBelt Zipper Running Belt (Medium)
Although my Garmin watch can do everything my phone can, sometimes I want my phone with me during a run for one reason or another. Other times, I simply need somewhere to store things beyond what’s available in my shorts pockets. The FlipBelt Zipper Running Belt has proven to be awesome and is a piece of running gear I would definitely recommend. I thought it gimmicky before using it, but I’ve found it to be incredibly useful, comfortable, and practical for runs not requiring a running vest, but still requiring some extra storage (I wore this during the Rio de Janeiro marathon).
Nathan QuickSqueeze Lite 18oz Handheld
The Nathan QuickSqueeze Lite 18oz Handheld is a great solution if you’re going on a run long enough to justify some hydration, but not so long that you want to bring a hydration vest. I typically use these bottles for runs between one and two hours. If you’re looking to keep your drink cold (or warm?) there’s also the QuickSqueeze Lite 12oz Insulated. Alternatively, if you just need a bit more storage there’s the SpeedDraw Plus Insulated as well which features a pocket attached to the bottle. That said, I prefer the FlipBelt Zipper/QuickSqueeze Lite combo to the SpeedDraw Plus.
Salomon Sense Pro 5 (Large)
I tried a few different running vests during my training and ended up using the Salomon Sense Pro 5 more than any other. It comes with me on all my training runs over two hours and sometimes on shorter runs as well. Occasionally, I would use a larger vest as well when I thought a larger jacket or extra gear was called for. The two hydration flasks in the front perform well, but I prefer the 500ml Salomon soft flask without the hard plastic piece at the bottom (they end up digging into my ribs on longer runs).
goodr BAMFGs Polarized Sunglasses (Large)
Apparently, all the cool kid runners wear goodr sunglasses. I came across goodr independently of ultrarunning when searching for affordable polarized sunglasses that came in wide-specific sizes. Turns out they have some good marketing and SEO because I was led right to them. Now I have a collection, including my goodr BAMFGs Polarized Sunglasses, that I rotate through on my runs.
Ridge Merino Journey Merino Wool T-Shirt (Medium)
Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t understand why there aren’t more merino wool shirts for athletes. They’re comfortable, don’t stink (too bad), and help to ward off nipple chafe. My shirt of choice for running is the Ridge Merino Journey Merino Wool T-Shirt. I experimented with about a dozen during my training, and this one came out on top (and is what I wore during my 100-mile ultra).
Brooks Sherpa 2 in 1 Shorts 5in Inseam (Medium)
Shorts are going to be different for everyone but the Brooks Sherpa 2 in 1 Shorts 5in Inseam have become my favorites. I now have three pairs as I’ve also made them my hiking shorts of choice. With a built-in liner, stretchy side pockets (for when I’m not using my FlipBelt Zipper), and a zippered pocket extending down into the brief that is large enough to fit my phone (6.7-inch display). The waistband is comfortable (it does not cut into my back) and the liner stays put when running.
NUUN Sport Hydration Tablets
I rarely drank simply water on longer training runs and I found that NUUN Sport Hydration Tablets were both easy to carry (compared to something powdered) and got the job done as far as replenishing my electrolytes. There are five flavors of the “sport” variety and they come in easy-to-carry tubes of ten tablets. The serving suggested is one tab per ~500 ml (16 fl oz) which makes them perfect for the 500ml Salomon soft flask bottles I carry in my Sense Pro 5.
Injinji Ultra Run Mini Crew Socks (Large)
Despite my love of Darn Tough socks, I may have to split my allegiance with Injinji from now on as I have been loving training and racing in their Ultra Run Mini Crew Socks. These socks are what I am wearing on all my long training runs (I would wear them more often, but I need more pairs) and I have yet to experience any chafing, blisters, or complaints in the foot/toe department.
HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat
For trail runs (and for my ultra), I use the HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat. These are also the shoes I typically use for backpacking so long as I’m not going to be knee-deep in snow or requiring some sort of boot for some reason. The Speedgoat 5 comes in wide sizes (important for me) and is far more comfortable than previous models (at least in my experience). Zappos has a forgiving order and returns policy if you’re interested in trying out multiple sizes of something.
HOKA ONE ONE Bondi
After consulting with some friends I consider to be runners, I decided to get myself separate road and trail running shoes in the early days of my training. For all my road training and my marathons, I run in the HOKA ONE ONE Bondi. The wide sizes, the comfort, and the cushion are my three primary reasons for wearing these, and I encourage you to find a shoe that works for you. Again, Zappos has a forgiving order and returns policy if you’re interested in trying out multiple sizes of something.
Body Glide for Her
Whenever I have a run over an hour (or a particularly aggressive run under one hour), I slather everything between my waist and my knees with Body Glide for Her. Why the “for Her”? Because it appears to be identical to the original Body Glide but with a pink container and is “rich in Vitamins A, B, E, and F”. What’s wrong with vitamins? This product does a great job of warding off chafe and it’s a must-have when training.
Squirrels Nut Butter
Chafe was and continues to be one of my biggest enemies when running, so I have employed not one but two anti-chafe solutions. In addition to Body Glide for Her, I also use Squirrels Nut Butter. Does one work better than the other? I’m not sure. They both work. That said, I like the application of Squirrels Nut Butter when using the stick version as compared to the Body Glide stick (which doesn’t seem to roll on as smoothly).
I love data and tracking my workouts. One of my great regrets is that I haven’t saved all my workouts from the beginning of time somewhere. But it’s never too late to start and I used Training Peaks to plan, organize, and save my workouts while training for my ultramarathon (and since running it as well). Training Peaks also integrates seamlessly with Garmin, automatically pushing workouts to my watch and then back to Training Peaks once they’re complete.
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