There’s just over two months until the London Marathon and endurance race season in general, begins. That’s two months of blood, sweat and probably a few tears before you eventually cross the finish line glowing with adrenaline and accomplishment. Your activewear can make or break your marathon success and the months of training you have to do before it. Pick the right running clothing and training will be a lot easier. Choose equipment that doesn’t last and you won’t just find yourself out-of-pocket.
Why the right activewear is important
Hitting the ground running (excuse the pun) with your training is likely to be your first priority. But take a step back and consider your equipment first. Getting the right activewear will make training much more comfortable, efficient and safe. A marathon is one of the toughest things you can put your body through. Training for one involves running miles and miles for months beforehand. Investing in the right equipment will stop you wasting energy on your runs, make those runs (and other exercise) more comfortable, and most importantly it will keep you safe and less prone to injury.
Running shoes are the first investment
Experts recommend that you start off with around 15 to 20 miles weekly if you’re a completely new runner, building to a peak of 35 to 50 miles. At the very least, you’re going to need running shoes that can withstand such long distances. Get yourself a decent pair of running shoes that will effectively support your feet. If you’ve never purchased a pair of these before, head down to a specialist running store to get their advice. The pair that you end up with depends on your running style, form and any pre-existing weaknesses you may have (like injury-prone ankles).
You’ll want your running shoes to be lightweight so that you don’t spend energy needlessly. They should be well-cushioned, supportive, and a comfortable fit. If you’re running on a road you’ll need a different trainer to one designed for trails.
Top Tip: Buy your running shoes in the late afternoon - never in the morning. Your feet swell during the day, so a pair that fit snugly at 7am may be too tight by 5pm.
As a ball park figure, expect to pay between £70-£150 for a good first pair of running shoes.
However, you won’t just need one pair of shoes. A good training schedule will encompass more than just running, so you’ll also need a pair of shoes suitable for the gym and/or strength training. Some runners also prefer to alternate shoes, depending on where they are running (the terrain) and their pace. Training and race shoes have different requirements, so if you’re feeling dedicated, get yourself a couple of different pairs.
Clothing for running and cross-training
The next step should be to look at your wardrobe. Choose clothing built with materials that will allow your skin to breathe, wick moisture, remain relatively odourless and that isn’t too constricting. You’re going to be running for a long time, so you’ll want to remain comfortable.
You’ll be training in all seasons, so it’s worth considering what different equipment you’ll need when it’s warm and when it’s freezing. Temperature control clothing will help you remain warm when training through the winter, and will keep you cool in summer.
Prioritise an ethical activewear company too - especially if you’re running the London Marathon for a good cause. You don’t want your hard work in contributing to a better planet being undone by an unsustainable clothing choice!
As a start, you should buy a few tops, shorts or leggings, socks and, for the ladies, a supportive sports bra (or several, if training daily). You might also want to consider a running jacket for colder months and a visor and sunglasses for sunny days.
Other fitness equipment to consider
As well as the clothing and shoes that you’re going to wear, you should also consider other essential equipment that will impact your training. Handheld water bottles will keep you hydrated during a run. Running belts or vests can keep your valuables safe and also contain snacks and gels for long runs. Running gloves might be an added comfort in cold weather. Ideally, they should be touchscreen enabled so you can access your running playlist quickly. Speaking of which, a phone armband will keep your music accessible whilst safely storing your phone out of harm’s way.
Chafing can be an issue for runners, so investing in a specialised chafing balm and some Vaseline will help keep sore skin and blisters at bay. On race day, it might be worth having a dedicated race belt that will keep your number secure. As was found in 2018, if you lose your number during the London Marathon you cannot finish the race - and someone might try to take the glory from you.
Finally, you’ll not just be hitting the road but also the weights. A pair of weight gloves are relatively inexpensive and will stop your hands from blistering or getting hard skin. They will also improve your grip, making it less likely that a heavy weight will slip out of your hands and cause injury.
A marathon always starts with the equipment
You cannot run a marathon or train for one without the right equipment behind you. Don’t be tempted to skip shopping for your running gear. Taking the time to choose the best activewear and trainers for your body will pay off in the long run. You’ll be thankful for all your equipment when you hit mile 25 on marathon race day.
About the author: Jay Curry is founder and head personal trainer at Jays Way Personal Training. He trains a range of clients, from soon-to-be brides to corporate groups, people getting marathon-ready and the British Army. Jay is passionate about varied training that builds mobility and functional strength. His programmes include HIIT, boxing, circuit training, and strength - and have been featured in the Huffington Post and Waitrose Health amongst others.
Nathalie is a handball champion in her home country of the Netherlands and also runs a very popular fitness blog on Instagram with 22k followers. She tells Sundried a little more about the sport of handball and talks about her love for our activewear.
Have you always been sporty?
I have always been sporty! I started to play handball when I was just four years old and I have been playing sport 4-8 times a week for more than 10 years now!
How did you first get into handball?
I got into handball because my mother played. I used to go along to support at games, but it's thanks to her that I started playing it myself.
For those who don't know, can you tell us a little more about handball?
Handball is a bit like indoor football because you use the same goals and lines. The point is to score goals but you cannot enter the circle around the goal. You may take three steps, dribble with the ball and take three steps again. Unlike in football, you don't have any defenders or strikers - you do both! Except for the goalkeeper. A match is split into two lots of thirty minutes. It's a very tough sport because a lot of physical contact is allowed!
What's your favourite thing about being an athlete?
My favourite thing about being an athlete is that I can put my energy (and I have lots of it) into something I love. I also like to inspire people to do the same and show people the quite unknown sport handball!
Talk us through your training regime.
I do 3 strength training sessions a week and four two-hour handball training sessions. I also run and see a physio to stay injury-free.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
Nope, I eat what I want. I'm lucky in that I love healthy food but I don't track anything and I also eat unhealthy stuff like chocolate. I know how to have a good balance.
Tell us something about you we may not know.
I studied Criminology and graduated in December!
What are your goals for the next year?
My goals are to get physically stronger and use that in my gameplay for handball. Your physique is very important, especially because it is a very physical sport and you can become easily injured.
If you could eat just one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
CHOCOLATE, no doubt.
Why work with Sundried? And what's your favourite bit of our kit?
A lot of sportswear looks nice but doesn't fit well. Sundried has a perfect fit; the leggings are high waisted and you don't have to keep pulling them up because they don't slip down. The fabric is very stretchy and would be flattering on any body type. It's an ethical brand and I love their view and way of working.
Why leggings and crop tops work for your workout
Gone are the days of wearing vests, yoga tops and sweaters in the gym.
Well, for me at least.
My training uniform has evolved to a combo of leggings and crop top or sports bra, for many reasons.
Since I started getting into training I’ve experimented with various styles of gym gear.
From joggers to cycling shorts, I’ve made every fitness fashion faux-pas, be it on the treadmill or in the weights area.
Nothing seems to compare to smashing out a sweaty session in a tiny (but supportive) top and clingy high-waisted bottoms.
Crop tops or sports bras reveal at least a few centimetres of midriff and so inadvertently remind you to engage your core and hold perfect posture during your workout.
Should you be having a low-energy moment and relax your abs, the mirror will tell you.
I love them in black (go with everything) or red, which fires me up like a visual pre-workout.
Wearing a tummy-flashing top means the moment I tone up even slightly I notice it and it makes me feel fantastic, and work out better.
Shorts work well if you’ve been working on your legs and are feeling good about them bare (i.e. – not on me right now…) but all year round my staple is leggings.
They streamline your bottom half and - to an extent - protect your shins and skin from grazes and bumps in the weights area.
You don’t want any long, baggy material near your feet for risk of tripping, so a tight legging is better than a straight leg gym trouser.
I love ones with drawstring waistbands, like Sundried’s, as there’s something that says ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ about pulling and tying them.
Summer is the perfect time to get on your bike and perhaps discover a new passion. If you're new to cycling, take a look at all the gear you'll need so that you know you've got everything covered.
When you decide that you're going to start cycling more seriously, your first port of call will be a jersey and cycling shorts. A cycling jersey can be long sleeved or short sleeved and is a tight-fitting top that will make you more aero-dynamic on the bike and will feature external elasticated pockets to the back for you to store valuables as well as snacks, a map, and any other small items you may need for your ride.
The main benefit of a proper cycling jersey is that it won't flap around in the wind as you sail along the road and will be specifically designed to be comfortable on the bike, meaning it will be sweat-wicking, windproof, and breathable. Any good cycling jersey will also have a drop-hem at the back meaning it won't ride up as you bend forward into an aero position.
Bib shorts or tights are ones that feature shoulder straps to hold them in place. Their main feature will be a large and comfortable pad to the bottom to protect you in the saddle, prevent chafing, and keep you comfortable over countless miles on the road.
The shoulder straps mean there is no waistband digging into your stomach as you bend forward over the handlebars and they will be made of Lycra to provide maximum efficiency with no extra fabric flying about. They may also feature silicone grippers to the bottom of the legs so that they don't ride up your thighs.
Bib tights are longer versions for winter riding and will be thicker, sometimes with waterproof technology built in.
For women, wearing a sports bra under your jersey will be paramount for comfort and protection. A regular bra will have straps that slip down your shoulders, while a good sports bra will be made in a racerback design, meaning you will be secure and comfortable throughout your ride.
You don't need to wear another top over your sports bra apart from your jersey. During winter, it is better to wear a long sleeve cold weather jersey which is made from thicker material.
A good waterproof jacket is vital for winter cycling as you never know when a flash rain shower might catch you off-guard. The best choice will be one that folds into a small pouch or bag so that you can carry it with you for just-in-case purposes and store it when it's not needed.
Cycling on a road bike, triathlon bike, or TT bike can put a lot of strain on the palms of your hands as you will be leaning on them for long periods of time. This can be one of the biggest learning curves for new cyclists, so a good pair of cycling gloves with padding could come in very handy.
Not only this, if you are cycling during winter, gloves will be crucial. Unlike running, cycling will not warm up your extremities as you are sat in the saddle and so covering your hands will stop your fingers from going numb and can hugely increase your comfort.
Cycle socks will usually be made in a longer length so that they don't slip down inside your shoes, causing irritation and chafing. A good pair of cycle socks will also feature sweat-wicking technology and breathability to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters. Some cycling socks may also provide compression technology, but this is not something that is vital for a comfortable ride.
On sunny summer days or on winter days with a low, glaring sun, a pair of cycling sunglasses will help to increase visibility and stop you squinting for 4 hours on a long ride! Cycling sunglasses will tend to be in a wrap-around style which won't slip off your face as you're moving and provide extra protection for the eyes.
A good pair of cycling sunglasses will have enhanced peripheral vision meaning you can see clearly out of the sides without having to twist and turn your head which is great for performance and safety while on the bike.
Wearing a cycle helmet is essential for all cyclists and you should always wear one when cycling for your safety, especially when cycling on roads with traffic. There are different types of helmet for different types of cycling, such as more basic commuter helmets or super aerodynamic racing helmets. If you are just starting out, you don't need to buy an expensive racing helmet and could look to spend as little as £30 on a good quality product.
Clipless Pedals/Cleats/Road Cycle Shoes
Some people never make the move from regular pedals to clipless due to the fact they can be a little daunting and many cyclists will have stories of times they didn't manage to unclip in time and toppled off the bike. However, clipless pedals and cleats can increase your power and speed as well as provide better comfort.
If you do choose to go clipless, you'll need a set of pedals as well as cleats. The key is to make sure your cleats are compatible with the pedals and that they clip in properly. You can adjust how tight the clip is so that it becomes easier to unclip if you're nervous about getting stuck. You can read our full guide to clipless pedals and cleats here.