What to Wear for a Marathon: Clothing and Gear Guide

Training for a marathon is an immense physical and mental challenge, but tackling it in uncomfortable clothing will only make the experience more difficult. The right marathon clothing and gear will ensure that you’re prepared for all weather conditions and can focus on reaching the finish line. 

This guide will cover the crucial elements of what to wear for a marathon, including essential clothing items, footwear, weather-specific advice, and helpful accessories. By following these recommendations, you’ll be better equipped to tackle those 26.2 miles with confidence.

Essential Clothing Items

Marathon Clothing

Developing a strong foundation of suitable clothing is vital for marathon runners. Before you hit the starting line, make sure you have invested in the following items:

Technical t-shirts

Technical t-shirts, made from lightweight, moisture-wicking material, help draw sweat away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable throughout the race. Marathon runners should avoid cotton shirts, as they absorb moisture and may cause chafing.

Leggings and shorts

Depending on the weather and your personal preference, you might choose to wear either leggings or shorts during a marathon. Opt for moisture-wicking performance fabrics to prevent chafing, overheating, or cold muscles.

Socks and compression gear

High-quality running socks made from moisture-wicking, breathable fabrics prevent blisters and reduce discomfort. Compression gear, such as socks or sleeves, can improve circulation and help reduce muscle fatigue during a marathon.

Sports bras

For female runners, a supportive and comfortable sports bra is essential. A well-fitted sports bra reduces bounce and provides excellent support to prevent injury during long-distance running.

Choosing the Right Footwear

Selecting suitable running shoes is vital for a successful marathon:

How to select running shoes

Choose a pair of running shoes that offer adequate cushioning, stability, and flexibility. It’s a good idea to visit a specialty running store, where an expert can assess your gait and suggest appropriate shoes.

When to replace your running shoes

Running in worn-out shoes can lead to injury. As a general guideline, replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles or as soon as you notice uneven wear, reduced cushioning, or discomfort.

Optional: running insoles

Some marathon runners benefit from custom insoles to provide additional support and improve shoe fit. Consult with a professional to determine whether insoles are suitable for you.

Marathon Gear for Different Weather Conditions

Weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared to adjust your marathon clothing:

Dressing for warm weather

In hot weather, opt for lightweight, moisture-wicking materials and light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight. A hat or visor can provide added sun protection.

Dressing for cold weather

Layering is crucial when running a marathon in cold conditions. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating middle layer, and finish with a wind-resistant or water-repellent outer layer. Don’t forget gloves and a hat to protect your extremities.

Dressing for rainy conditions

Equip yourself with a lightweight, waterproof jacket or gilet to keep the rain out. Select shoes with good wet-weather grip to prevent slipping.

Accessories and Gadgets

Enhance your marathon experience with these useful items:

Hydration supplies

Stay hydrated on race day with a handheld water bottle, hydration belt, or running vest designed to carry water bottles or hydration bladders.

Running watches and fitness trackers

Monitor your pace, heart rate, and distance with a GPS running watch or fitness tracker to help ensure you’re on track during the marathon.

Reflective gear for visibility

Wearing reflective gear improves your visibility when running in low-light conditions, making it safer for both you and other road users.

Sun protection (hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen)

Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays with hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen specifically designed for endurance athletes.

Clothing and Gear Tips

Some final tips to prepare for your marathon:

The importance of quality, moisture-wicking materials

Investing in high-quality clothing constructed with moisture-wicking materials will significantly enhance your comfort during the marathon.

Testing your gear before the big race

Never plan to wear brand new gear on race day. Test everything during your carb loading before a marathon, proper diet during training, and other runs to ensure it performs well and doesn’t cause discomfort.

Packing extra clothes for race day

Bringing extra clothes to the race allows you to adapt to changing weather conditions or swap out wet gear.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I wear if I don’t know the weather on race day?

Closely monitor the weather forecast leading up to the marathon and bring multiple clothing options to cover different weather scenarios.

Are compression garments necessary for marathon runners?

While not absolutely essential, many runners find compression garments beneficial for improved circulation and muscle support.

Can I use regular sports shoes for a marathon?

Specialized running shoes provide better support, cushioning, and performance features compared to regular sports shoes. Investing in proper running shoes is recommended.

How do I avoid chafing during a marathon?

Wear moisture-wicking clothing that fits snugly but doesn’t constrict movement. You can also apply anti-chafing products, such as body glide, to chafe-prone areas.


Proper clothing and gear selection is essential to ensure comfort, safety, and peak performance during a marathon. By following the advice in this guide and getting acquainted with the nutrition variation in races and fueling for tough races, you’ll be prepared to tackle your race with confidence, knowing that you have dressed appropriately for success.