Marathon Training for Nerds

Mmmmm… lube-y.

I’ve been a runner since sophomore year in college. It was easy to take up and easy to do — just go in a straight line and don’t fall — and aside from a few years of Kenpo Karate and some bouts at the gym I did very little else in terms of real exercise. I felt happy that I could run two miles, come home, shower, and get on with my day. But I felt something was missing, and it was the challenge.

I live along the opening stretch of the New York Marathon and often watched the runners chugging down Fourth Avenue here in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, still fresh and relatively unscathed by their run. I always wanted to join them, to prove that this ex-fat kid and current slovenly poppa could make it to the end of the line and not keel over, nipples bleeding and bowels evacuating all over the finish line. Well, I’m giving it a go this year and am running the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in June. Here is a brief description of the gear and gadgetry I’m using to train.

to attach the sensor to my shoe. My favorite part of the Nike+iPod kit? When you hit a personal record — distance or time — Lance Armstrong or marathoner Paula Radcliffe pop on and tell you you did a good job. Why does this please me so? I don’t know, but it’s like the peanuts in the Cracker Jack — you suffer through the toil in hopes of getting that one tasty morsel of praise.

gummy earbuds that fit perfectly and seem to be totally indestructible. Sure, they’re not giving me all my highs and lows, but the rubbery surface ensures they don’t fall out of my head.

I have the iPod in an magnesium case by Pacific Rim that has thus far survived rainy evenings and enough of my salty sweat to drown a horse. I listen to audiobooks during my runs, mostly because music is more unpredictable and jarring than some guy droning about Osama bin Laden and actually much less interesting.

I’ve also tried out the UpStage and the Nokia Xpressmusic 5300 for the music features but eventually started carrying them as a back-up phone during my run. Both of these phones are extremely small and extremely light but the Nike+iPod features are too good to give up.

I used to wear my mechanical watches when I ran but suddenly realized that hitting mile 20 in a beautiful, handmade timepiece was probably not the best idea. Instead, I picked up a Casio Sea Pathfinder SPF70T-7V . It’s a $169 solar watch, which means it’s charged by light, and has a compass, barometer, and depth meter along with a temperature sensor. It also has timing functions.

This has become my de facto running watch although I did try the Garmin Forerunner 305 but I found it a bit bulky. The 305 is a real GPS watch and can plot your course over time, allowing you to replay courses and record your routes for posterity. It also has a heart rate monitor, which I used for a bit but never really found necessary.

I wear Ray Bans when I run — these black ones I bought a discount store in Brooklyn for about $40 — although I also wore HiDefSpex for a while as well. They were alright, but I prefer polarized lenses.


I got a few pairs of special running socks and this little lifesaver as well: Body Glide. It’s a personal lubricant that comes in a stick and is great on chafey places like between your legs, on the edges of your feet, and — garrrrr — the nipples. If you’re lucky, I’ll shoot some video of me applying it with a Barry White soundtrack in the background.

UPDATE – When it’s cold, I’ll wear a ScottEVest fleece that has a Napolean pocket at the breast and two central pockets. I keep the iPod in the upper pocket and everything else in the lower pockets. I was able to hold two water bottles, a phone, and my iPod during a half-marathon last weekend without even noticing the weight. When it’s warm, I’ll clip the iPod to my shirt or an armband I had left over from an old Creative MP3 player I had.

While this may sound like a shopping list, it isn’t. This is essentially the gear that I settled upon when researching this run and found it to be the most useful gear for my particular running style and milage. Shop around and find gear that’s right for you and happy trails.