Have you noticed more people than usual running on Whatcom County’s roads and trails recently? Many of them are likely training for one of the upcoming Bellingham Bay Marathon races. The 5k and 10k races take place September 25th, followed by the half and full marathons on the 26th.
With race day rapidly approaching, I chatted with Fairhaven Runners owner Steve Roguski to find out how people can select gear to optimize their running experience.
At the most basic level, the correct gear should be comfortable and make a person feel good while running, he says, whether training or racing. “Injuries can occur without the right gear,” he says, “and on the other extreme [good gear can] transform what may have been a bad experience into a much more pleasant, successful experience.”
Roguski likes to look at different types of gear as kits and says, “The smiles start at the feet.”
For your foot kit, you are looking at your socks, insoles, and the shoes themselves, with all parts needing to work harmoniously for best results. Roguski points out that these don’t need to be expensive choices, rather ones that work well for the specific individual—and all the parts matter. An expensive pair of shoes can be of no use if the rest of the kit isn’t performing.
For instance, he stresses the importance of avoiding cotton socks and prefers people reserve them for leisure activities like reading and watching TV. “You want something that’s designed for somebody who’s active and moving and sweating, so you don’t want something like cotton that is going to absorb and expand with moisture,” says Roguski.
This absorption of moisture can make what was once a good fit become ill-fitting, creating the potential for discomfort or injuries. The same principle applies as you move up the body to your bottoms and tops. Finding clothes that fit well and wick away moisture will reduce chafing. You also want the clothes to start and stay light while running, so it’s critical to find materials that don’t absorb moisture. This is especially true when there’s potential for rain on race day.
Creating a kit that’s comfortable from start to finish is really the key. “The best-case scenario is you forget about your clothes… they are completely off your radar, you just know that you feel good,” says Roguski.
When race day approaches, it’s important to wear gear you’re familiar with, but you also may want a specific race day kit.
“We’re celebrating our work, celebrating each other, and I think that’s really cool,” says Roguski. “So if you have a kit with some shoes you wear on race day that you know work for you, a singlet, shirts, or shorts, a special hat or whatever else you like to wear, that’s kind of special for the day.”
In addition to pulling out your race day kit that will ensure you look and feel good, it can also serve as a mental switch to help performance. You know when this specific gear is pulled out of the closet it’s time to perform and it’s designed to help maximize results.
One more kit to consider when it comes to gear is for recovery.
“Your recovery phase is just as important as your work phase,” Roguski says. “We all focus on the work phase: I’ve got to get this run in, that work out in, work work work work work. But we’re getting stronger and fitter with the recovery phase. The work is breaking you down, you’re not getting fitter then, you’re getting more fit and more ready for one of these events with smart recovery.”
For Roguski, this kit is made up of physical items like massage tools and gear for rolling out, but nonphysical tools are also part of active maintenance. This includes stretching, eating well, and making sure to get good sleep. Roguski says focusing on resting enough, getting in those key longer, harder, workouts, and getting to the start line healthy are the most important pieces.
Selecting the proper gear can seem daunting, but the team at Fairhaven Runners is always excited to help. They have a system in place to ensure they’re doing all they can to help individuals find the proper gear specific to them. They carry gear for all the different kits, and more information can be found on their website at www.fairhavenrunners.com.
If you still need to register for one of the races, you can do so at www.bellinghambaymarathon.org. Here, you can also learn more about the nonprofits that receive 100% of the net proceeds, learn about the sponsors, and see past results and photos.