Figuring out what to wear on race day is extremely hard whether you are a new marathoner or a seasoned veteran. Overdress and you risk sweating too much, getting dehydrated faster, or simply overheating. Underdress and you spend 3+ hours thinking about how cold you are.

I can honestly tell you that out of the 13 marathons I have run, I have over dressed for 12 of them. It has negatively affected me. Not once did I underdress, I always overdressed for fear of being cold. One time I got it right.  Marine Corps 2009 when I ran a personal PR at the time of 3:31. I wore shorts and a tank – I was neither too hot or too cold.

On Saturday I am facing my fears and will be wearing WAY less than I want to wear. I hope that it will keep me from overheating, which is a major problem I have had in almost all of my marathons.

Here’s the outfit:

Why I picked it: 

On my test-my-gear run last weekend my hat was blowing off, so I switched to a tight hat to keep the wind from blowing it off and also to keep the wind from blowing in my ears. I dislike the sound of the wind in my ears for 3+ hours – it gives me a headache. 

I’ll be wearing gloves because warm hands make the body feel warmer than it actually is. 

I chose capris over shorts simply because I am more comfortable post baby in capris than I am in shorts.  A key to picking the perfect outfit is making sure it’s something you feel comfortable in as well as feel that you are fast in. Remember – what the mind believes the body believes. Fast mind = fast body. 

A supportive sports bra was next on my must wear list, for this nursing mom. 

I chose a tank and arm warmers simply because I feel faster in them than I do in a long or short sleeve shirt.

Sunglasses to keep the sun out of my eyes and also to help if I encounter any unwanted wind.

SPF because let’s be honest – we are going to be running for a long time and even the slightest bit of sun can cause sunburn when you are out for that long.

Body Glide – because I don’t leave home with out it. I’m a VERY sweaty girl – TMI – so I need to make sure I prevent chaffing.

My favorite Saucony socks,my A4 racing flats, my Garmin and my Road ID complete the outfit!

What will you be wearing during the race?  Need advice?  Comment below and I’ll do my best to help!

You may be worried about the forecast for Saturday.  At last check said it will be 40 degrees for the high.  Worry not runner friends.  According to the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, the perfect temperture for optimal performance in a marathon is 41 degrees!

The course map has changed! Be sure to check out the latest map.  This also means that the course elevation chart is not completely correct, but be sure to check it out anyways.  The first half of the marathon is very hilly in comparision to the 2nd half.  Make sure you don’t go out too fast and blow up in the later miles of the race.


  1. ugh, I have 2 outfits in mind, as every time I refresh the overnight shuffles back & forth between 38 and 33*!!! Please 38*! :)
    I can't believe you've got yours picked out! BTW, meant to tell you at ST. Patty's Day, I Love your tank & armwarmers, they look awesome (not to mention speedy!) If I don't see you before the race, have a super great race – hopefully I'll have time to finish the half and get my camera before you come charging through the finish! :)

  2. says:

    I like fast mind = fast body. So very true. I'm not running the race (boo – my marathon isn't until May) but body glide is an absolute must for me too. Sounds like you'll have great temps. I wish everyone lots of luck! I can't wait to read the race reports!

  3. Brian Lieberman says:

    thanks Dorothy, this helps a lot! I'm worried about overheating. I was originally thinking about wearing a jacket or coldgear under armor, but this post ruled that out. I'll probably wear a hat, gloves, and arm warmers, but I have a feeling that I'll want to take them off midway through the race. I guess I'll just make sure to have pockets :)


    If nothing else, you will be easy to spot.

    As of right now I am wearing long sleeves. I ran shamrock in '08 and it was 44-51* during the race and I wore long sleeves.

    I will, however, be bringing sleeves, just in case I chicken out on the long sleeves before the start. Too many choices …

  5. That outfit lying on the ground looks like a proto-person just waiting to be assembled from its parts. :) I just started worrying myself today about what I'll wear; I suspect that I'll be getting some disposable clothes at the Expo on Friday so that I don't freeze while waiting to start, and going minimal for the actual running wear, like you.

    BTW, for those half-marathoners, I updated the race course on the RunKeeper Races page for the half:

    It has an accurate elevation profile for the race. It looks like the page for the full marathon ( hasn't been updated… since I didn't author that race entry, I can't update it!

  6. DCRunner says:

    I'm so torn about what to wear. Was thinking capris and a t-shirt, but I think I'll freeze my arms off the first 4-5 miles. Maybe I just need to pick up a pair of arm warmers. I don't want to wear any sort of jacket b/c my core gets plenty warm. I spent two hours in my running store yesterday trying to pick out just the right gear. I think I need to go back :(.

  7. dcrunographer says:

    Phew! And here I was thinking I was the only one putting too much thought into a race outfit.

    Also, that outfit is freaking me out. Looks like it's going to come to life any minute now.

  8. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    @Jason – thanks for posting those links!!!

    @DCRunner – I'll be wearing a long sleeve throw away shirt for the first mile or two. I make a slit at the top so I can literally just rip it off while running rather than pulling it over my head. Keeps me warm and toasty until I warm up!

    @dcrunographer – I'm laughing :)

    @TMB – I saw your outfit on your blog! Love it!

  9. carljsamuelson™ says:

    Great post! some very beneficial information here. I'm going to pass it along to some runners I'm mentoring for the upcoming Lincoln Marathon.

  10. racingtales says:

    Love the outfit! I think the accessories – hat, arm warmers, gloves – go a long way in keeping you comfortable-but-not-too-warm. For Shamrock, which wasn't cold but was breezy, I wore a hat and arm warmers the entire race. Other than that I just had a sports bra and run skirt…first time I've ever run a race in a skirt. I wore it because it has 5 pockets!!! I wore an old fleece sweater for the first mile to warm up!

    Have a great race Saturday. I know you're an early person but go extra early so you don't sit in traffic trying to get into the RFK parking lot. Last year we sat for 45 mins…

  11. SupermomE12 says:

    Both of my marathons started with temps in the 30's and in both I wore a tank and arm sleeves… like you said, they make me feel faster (and a bit bada$$) :) I did keep on throwaway warm clothes until I started running. Love the outfit! You are going to do awesome!!!

  12. Shellyrm ~ just a country runner says:

    I love the color! You are going to look fast. (I already know you will be running fast regardless of what you wear!)

    I finally got closer to the right amount of coverage on race day. I usually over dress too.

    Can't wait to see how you all do this weekend!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    My 2 cents: ditch the hat. I find that I get hot with a hat in anything above 35 degrees. But otherwise, you are going to be stylin', comfy and FAST.

  14. Love the orange. That's awesome.
    Still trying to decide what I'm going to wear. I plan on wearing capris, but trying to decide on what shirt. I was planning on wearing a short sleeve Brooks shirt, but wondering if I'll want long. I don't currently have any throw away clothes. Also trying to decide too between a Nike running hat or a Saucony beanie. Thoughts?
    Also, do they provide heat sheets at the finish or should my hubbie bring one along?

  15. PS: This is my first so not sure what to expect.

  16. National is my first marathon.

    You all keep talking about what you're wearing up top. Are you all agreed on what to wear on your legs? I'm leaning toward tights, but I might go with shorts (as a male, capris don't work too well for me 😉 If it were 30° or 50° it would be an easier decision to make. Up top, I figure layered tech t-shirts, short sleeve and long-sleeve, with perhaps a disposable sweatshirt to keep warm in the corral and early goings. My long-sleeve is waist tie-able and, if necessary, toss-able.

    No hat. Disposable work gloves from the hardware store, maybe.

    And my Garmin, for sure.

    Overnight temps on Friday look to go down to 33° (according to Washington Post), so I'm guessing a 33° or 34° start temperature. And by 11am we're still not going to be to the day's forecast high. If we start out as cool as they predict, and if it is as cloudy as they predict, I doubt we'll be up to 40° by 11am.

    Good luck, all!

  17. Looks good! Mine will not look nearly as put together as you. I plan on dressing the same way I did for most of my long runs which were largely at the same weather forecast. I will be lucky if I match 😉 But I agree, I'm afraid of being either too cold or too hot!

  18. TurnerLifeAround says:

    thank you so much for this post- i worried when i saw how much the weather had changed (i was so ready for shorts and a tank top) but i think i'll keep the tank top idea with my sleeves and some gloves…can't wait for saturday morning- good luck!!

  19. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    @Chris – great question!! Girls do have it easier because we have the option of capris. That being said I am only wearing capris because I am more comfortable in them post baby than I am shorts, otherwise I'd be wearing shorts. I've never worn tights in a marathon. The only races I've ever worn tights in and not regretted it was when there was snow on the ground. I think it's better to wear more on top and less on the bottom. You can peel off layers on top but whatever you decide shorts/capris/tights you are stuck with for the whole race.

    And a cheap option that I did not mention for throw away clothes is a thrift store. All of the clothes discarded are picked up and donated. I'm not a huge fan of those tyvek suits you can buy at expos – I don't think they keep you any warmer than an old t-shirt or sweatshirt, which is way cheaper and will get worn by someone else after you no longer have a need for it!

  20. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    @rachel – I typically run in a running hat with a brim, however I have had one blow off during a race – which is why I switched to my Saucony beanie. I kept on running and was just going to leave the hat, but a nice man stopped picked it up and ran it over to me. I felt horrible that he had stopped…so I'm pretty sure I'm going with the beanie because I'm wearing way less on my body than I normally do. The beanie is also easy to take off and tuck into my capris if I get too hot.

    I remember heat sheets last year and the year before, pretty sure they will have them again this year.

    Hope that helps and good luck on your 1st marathon!!!

  21. I wear gloves all the time, and once they're on I rarely take them off, even for the full marathon at MCM this fall. Even with shorts and a tank they somehow make the race outfit for me. See you out there!

  22. Gracie (Complicated Day) says:

    I am a very cold person most of the time, so I would much prefer to over-dress. For the Mardi Gras Marathon I wore long winter tights and a T-shirt with gloves at the start…and it was in the 50's! I did feel warm in the later sunny miles but I'd rather feel warm than cold.
    My favorite racing clothes tip: medical latex gloves, like the kind you wear when you draw blood or give shots. I grab a few pairs from work (I'm a pharmacist) and wear them at the start. The unbreathable plastic is really warm, and when you heat up you can just throw them away.

  23. I love the orange! I agree with the slightly underdressing vs overdressing. Being a little cold is WAY better than being too warm. Hope to see you out there on Saturday!

  24. Chunky Monkey says:

    Love the outfit. Getting gear ready for race day is almost as hard as training. Whats a girl to wear? I always tend to over dress and have too much bulk.

  25. Run with Jess says:

    That outfit is so COOL!!! Love it!


  1. […] the data from my garmin should you like to look at stuff like that {I do!}. The race was much hillier than I remembered and my only complaint is the same complaint I had when I ran this race before it was Rock […]

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