What to wear is always a stressful decision for any marathoner but especially for first timers. You just do not know how you will feel or how your body will react during the race. What follows is my advice on what you should wear. As always what works for me – may not work for you – I do hope that something in this post helps you find the perfect outfit for Sunday!

Sunglasses – always a must during a marathon, but especially at Marine Corps. It gets windy on the bridges, which in my opinion are the worst part of MCM. Sunglasses help block the wind. When your face is scrunched up and tense, your body is tense. Sunglasses block the sun and help keep your face relaxed. That being said, if you have never run with sunglasses before do not try it Sunday. Remember NOTHING new on race day.

Sunscreen – Marine Corps is sunny. I know it is going to be cold on Sunday but you still need sunscreen. There is relatively NO shade on this course. Most of you will be out there for 4+ hours. Think about how skiers always have tan faces. You can get a sunburn even when it is chilly. I have gotten so burnt at this race before that my skin started hurting long before I ever crossed the finish line.

Arm sleeves – I’m so glad these have become popular. They are a much better option than a short sleeve or a long sleeve in my opinion. You can roll them down if you get hot, roll them back up if you get cold. I plan on wearing my Saucony Vizipro Pink ones Sunday.

Shorts or Capris? I personally think if you are finishing in under 4 hours then you want to wear shorts. If you are planning on running in the 4 – 5 hour range than I think you can go with either – shorts or capris and feel comfortable. 5+ hours and I would go with capris. I do not recommend tights for anyone. Unless it is the dead of winter you do not need tights in a marathon. Last thing you want to be is over heated. You will then sweat and get cold. It seems crazy that wearing less keeps you warmer, but it’s true. You do not want to sweat a lot when it is cold out.

I am wearing a hat and possibly a beanie. I have some BEYOND awesome Saucony ones I love – I haven’t picked which one yet but it will be Vizipro pink. Lauren and I from Health On The Run are running together and we will both be rocking watermelon colors – look for the green and pink on Sunday!!

Make sure your Garmin is FULLY charged.

I’ll be racing in the Kinvara 2 again and my favorite Saucony socks since they have NEVER given me blisters.

Body glide is a must. I body glide EVERYWHERE before a marathon. If you are someone who chafes you will likely chafe in places you never imagined. Be prepared and just glide up your whole body.

For windy or chilly races I like to rub Vaseline on my cheeks and forehead. This acts as a barrier between the wind and my skin and helps protect it from windburn.

At the start I will be wearing an old pair of pants and old shirts to throw away. Cut a slit in the top and bottom of the shirt so it is easy to rip off while running rather than pulling it over your head. I will take off the pants at the very last minute so my legs are nice and warm for when I start running.

Questions? What do you plan on wearing? Is this your first Marine Corps Marathon? If you are running and having your race times tweeted leave your twitter name below so everyone can follow you during the race!


  1. This is such a helpful post, Dorothy! I'm not running MCM, but I am bookmarking this to refer to if/when I work up the courage to run my first marathon.

    Even though I'm not running, I'll be out there cheering on all the runners. I'll have to look for the watermelon duo!

    –Meg R

  2. Jessica (Pace of Me) says:

    ohmygoodness ohmygoodness i am soooo excited!
    it is going to be chilly on sunday morning, but once we get moving we will not want so much on.
    i used to love wearing my capris for long runs, but lately i only wear them on shorter cold runs. i just get hot, OR worse – they get wet (from sweat, and, errrr other stuff) and then feel so icky, cold and heavy on me. i would rather have cold dry legs than cold wet legs!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I agree with you 100% on all of these items! Although I did have success with light-weight tights when it was 37 degrees and overcast in Richmond one year. And again in Memphis when it was 33 degrees and I ran the half marathon. It's tough because races can be sooo cold to start out and then the temp can rise by up to 20 degrees if it's sunny!

  4. Cook.Clean.RUN.Dream says:

    I love these posts, like I make NOTES from these posts. Thanks for beings such a great source of great advice! Good luck on Sunday!

  5. Dorothy, what is your bib #? I'm going down to cheer on a friend on Sunday and will be jumping in occasionally to run with her. I'd like to follow along on your splits. Thanks. And great post. I followed all of Dorothy's advice two years ago (esp. the throw away clothes) and it was awesome. I did wear shorts but finished in 4:26 so it was perfect. Thanks!!! And as always, best of luck!! And we need to get the babies together soon!

  6. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    Jenn – excited you are going to be down there!! I plan on being in Saucony Vizipro pink so I will be easily seen. My # is 11098 and I signed up to have my splits tweeted and posted to my FB wall :) I'll also have my cell with me if you want to text!!

  7. Miss Erosion says:

    I am looking to purchase some Saucony tights for this winter… where you are a Saucony PRO :) which would you suggest?

  8. Arm sleeves are the best invention!!! I get warm easily so I love being able to roll them down. Good luck at MCM!!

  9. Stephanie says:

    So no secret that this is my first. I am soo stressing over the capris v. shorts. I really want to wear my shorts and not the capris. But I am worried about being cold. i thought about using the calf compresison sleeves but yea just got those today so bah. Any advice on gloves? long sleeve v. teeshirt?

  10. Hey there! Just reading and re-reading this and had a few quick questions for you whenever you might get the time to answer them — this is my first marathon, so obviously my first MCM as well! :) I’m wondering about sunscreen — do you have a particular favorite for long runs? Also, I live in Charleston and won’t be anywhere cold to train so I can’t train in any clothes that I might be wearing up there (other than my “Run to Honor” underarmour shirt and my runningskirt and my compression socks.) I’ve worn arm sleeves when I lived in England all of last year, but you recommended (based on certain temps) to wear throw-away homemade armsleeves. I know we can’t know the weather until right beforehand — but do you think, generally speaking, that I’ll be plenty warm in the tshirt, runningskirt, and comp. socks (once I’m warmed up of course a few miles in) and that anything else I may start with should be throw-away? I’m not going to be fast (11 minute miles), but I’m pretty sure I’ll be as warm as most other people (I mean, you’d probably have to walk the whole thing not to heat up quite a bit), so overheating is my primary concern. My plan would be, based on reading this – keep to my regular sweatband visor, compression socks (I wear them all the time already), runningskirt (also my normal – I just keep writing it that way bc I’ll be wearing one from runningskirts.com that day because of the POCKETS!), the underarmour tshirt, throw-away arm sleeves, and possibly a throw-away jacket and sweatpants. Can you give me a temperature under which you think the sweatpants might be necessary? I mean, if I know I don’t need to start the race with them I can just check them in my bag — I just do not want to freeze to death while waiting!! Especially after doing most of the training for the race in California, Texas, and South Carolina! Thanks for your help :)

  11. I would wear sweatpants at the start and then 5 minutes before the race goes off – take them off and toss them to the side – same with a jacket if you have one. I like wearing a throw away long sleeve or short sleeve and cutting a slice in the top neck and bottom – then I can just rip it off while running and not worry about pulling it over my head. Arm warmers made out of tube socks are great as well. I don’t think you will be too hot in what you plan on wearing :) Less is more in a marathon :) Let me know if you have any other questions – or you can email me too!

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