September 22, 2016

Berlin Calling – Clothes for THE German marathon

Emil Zatopek, Haile Gebrselassie or Dennis Kimetto – just writing these names makes me get all tingly inside. They are running legends. They are my heroes – made such over THE distance in running: the marathon!

Twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, the largest city marathons take place over the legendary 42.195k distance. London and Boston in the spring; Berlin, Chicago and New York in the fall – these are the crème de la crème of marathon running. Every year, the world’s best are at the starting lines, heading off on their dizzyingly speedy chase after a world record in front of millions. They are joined by tens of thousands of amateurs and recreational runners. Where in any other sport does that happen? Total goose bumps!

The Berlin Marathon – course with a glorious marathon history

Although I’m a marathon veteran, it’s never worked out for me to participate in one of the “Big Five” marathons. That had to change, and urgently! Berlin it was! This year! The Berlin Marathon is the largest in Germany, not to mention one of the largest in the world, plus it has something else going for it: a course suitable for world records. The fastest course in the world, in fact. Since 2003, all six new world records have been set on this course. Admittedly, a little bit of awe pulses inside just writing that. It is somehow a must for myself, even if my goal is indeed a few ticks more modest. But even to accomplish that, you need to be well prepared, in particular sans injury. And then on THE Day Zero everything must click just right. How you feel that day and other conditions can often make the difference between success and being hammered. And no matter how good you feel that day, the chase after a personal best can be for naught if it’s too hot or too cold, too windy or too rainy at the start.

Marathon clothes – Equipped for every (weather) possibility

Lacking any real influence over weather whimsies, you can only confront the weather with suitable adaption. The best way is to choose the right clothes. The organizers of the largest city marathons select dates in spring and fall to avoid any extreme conditions during summer and winter. For us runners, that means normally moderate temperatures and good chances of fast times; however, along with that you still have to plan for huge uncertainties due to erratic weather during these seasons.

Staying flexible is thus the way to go. Even if weather forecasts today are normally pretty accurate, I don’t want in any way to be unprepared in Berlin and be confronted with surprising weather whimsies. I want to be equipped for all weather possibilities! Whether late summer’s high temperatures, the first drop in temperatures as the harbinger of still-distant winter, or simply a dreary fall drizzle, I will have suitable clothing in my bag. I don’t like surprises – never have liked them, and particularly not at all at competitions! I want to be prepared – for everything!!

Clothing Option 1: Minimalistic with race potential

GORE RUNNING WEAR® MYTHOS SINGLET and MYTHOS SPLIT SHORTS
GORE RUNNING WEAR® MYTHOS SINGLET and MYTHOS SPLIT SHORTS

I like it cold and dry. 5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit), blue skies…. This is where I am at my best. When many are wrapped up in a few layers and trembling from the cold at the starting line, I am standing in my GORE RUNNING WEAR® MYTHOS SINGLET and my MYTHOS SPLIT SHORTS, excited about super chances for a fast run. Minimal weight, superior ventilation, and the best freedom of movement, this classic marathon outfit admittedly offers a touch of hero flair in the first starting block where this outfit is nearly without exception the one of choice. Those folks up there don’t have any time to be freezing. Nevertheless, this outfit is my most probable choice in Berlin since less fabric in warmer temperatures simply isn’t possible – at least without the risk of attracting a few sideways glances. I even reach for this clothing in a drizzle or in moderate temperatures since it works out well for a pretty wide range of every possible weather.

Clothing Option 2: Premium look with triathlon styling

FUSION TIGHT combined with the FUSION WINDSTOPPER® SHIRT and a BASELAYER SINGLET, all by GORE RUNNING WEAR®
FUSION TIGHT combined with the FUSION WINDSTOPPER® SHIRT and a BASELAYER SINGLET, all by GORE RUNNING WEAR®

If it gets colder and perhaps a little windy too, then I too need to reach a bit further: more protection to avoid performance-limiting loss of body temperature, and more for muscles that are more prone to injury in the cold. For these conditions, the perfect solution is the FUSION TIGHT combined with the FUSION WINDSTOPPER® SHIRT and a BASELAYER SINGLET, all by GORE RUNNING WEAR®. The tights help to protect sensitive thigh muscles from chills and offer muscles additional support toward the end of the race. The short-sleeved shirt has windproof features, but you can still regulate ventilation well with the full-length zipper.

Since not everybody likes the feeling of an icebox, the window of use for this outfit for many marathon-ophiles could open up at even higher temperatures. Particularly since aside from increased protection from adverse conditions you also have options to carry along small personal essentials. In the pockets of the pants and shirt you can easily stash 2-3 energy gels or even a few salt tablets. That makes you a little less dependent on aid stations – a benefit not to be underestimated in case you have a sudden performance breakthrough.

Clothing Option 3: Ready for any catastrophic need

Outfit: ONE GORE-TEX® ACTIVE JACKET and the FUSION GORE® WINDSTOPPER® TIGHTS
Outfit: ONE GORE-TEX® ACTIVE JACKET and the FUSION GORE® WINDSTOPPER® TIGHTS

In the case of a weather-related people’s catastrophe – i.e. chilly temps, icy winds, and strong steady rain – yet another outfit choice has to be packed along even though I desperately hope it stays packed. In this case, I have a combination of the ONE GORE-TEX® ACTIVE JACKET and the FUSION GORE® WINDSTOPPER® TIGHTS ready to use. To be honest, I’ve never used such an outfit at a marathon, and it can just stay that way, thank you.

Still, it’s reassuring to know that even you can be confronted unprepared, having with big bad luck on the weather front. I can deal with this regularly in training as optimum protection from wind and rain when it helps me to win the battle with the temptation to be lazy – especially if a weather god is tempting me to stay on the couch.  

Technically speaking when it comes to clothing, I’m ready for you, my first Berlin Marathon. Of course, my conditioning still needs a little hardworking fine-tuning. Which of course offers good opportunities to test out my three clothing options since even the best outfit shouldn’t “premiere” in competition. You know of course all of that about unpleasant surprises….

So, I’m crossing my fingers that my Berlin debut goes as I’d like it to. And I hope too we will all be able to celebrate new world records together!

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