I am a bit of a gear geek. I like to try new things and I become very dedicated to the products that work for me. Frequently I am asked about the products I like for marathon training. Here is a quick list of some of my favorite things:
For distance walking you will need a comfortable and light weight training shoe. Don't be weighed down with a heavy leather walking shoe. Either find a very light weight walking shoe or go with a running trainer. I have several favorites including... Asics Gel DS Racer and the Saucony Fasttwitch for speed days and short walks, and the New Balance 833 for long walks.
I have tried a variety of real food and energy products during my long training walks. Many foods that provide the calories and energy needed are inconvenient. No matter what I try I always go back to these two mainstays: GU energy gels and Power Bar brand Harvest Bars. GU gels have a better consistency and taste than other gels I have tried, and I love the crunchy texture of the Harvest Bars. Both come in a variety of flavors.
I usually walk at a location with easy access to water, but carrying enough electrolyte drink for a long walk is almost impossible. For a while I carried sports drink powder. I stopped at the water fountain and mixed it in my water a couple of times during my walks. WHAT a pain! Then I found out about convenient and portable electrolyte capsules. This was a great find. I have tried two brands with success: Edurolytes by Hammer Nutrition and Succeed Electrolyte Caps. I recently found another product on the market that I am anxious to test. It is called E-Gel by Crank Sports. They supposedly provide more electrolytes than other gels. I am hoping that I may be able to use gel alone and not have to carry electrolytes at all. That would be extremely convenient.
Body Glide.... I should own stock in Body Glide. If you find any areas that are prone to chafing you need this product. It comes in a stick (like a stick deodorant), and you can easily smooth it on before your walks. It's great on the inside of arms where a t-shirt sleeve may rub, under the chest strap of your heart rate monitor, and on blister prone areas of feet. There are other options if you can't find Body Glide locally. See our information on blisters and chafing.
The easiest way to keep your training on target is to monitor your heart rate. Over the years I have had several different Polar Heart Rate Monitors and have always been happy with them. They seem to be much more reliable than some of the other brands on the market and they come with all the features you will need for your heart rate based training program.
The Garrmin Forerunner 301combines a GPS unit with a heart rate monitor. This is my newest gadget and I LOVE it. The easy to read display allows you to monitor your pace, distance, and heart rate all at the same time. A gadget geek's dream! What more can I say.
For years I tried different types of media players. I had a cassette player, cd player, stereo headset. All were tried a few times and retired. They were too heavy, too bulky, and too much trouble to use. Then along came MP3 players. I found a little iRiver MP3 Player that suits my need perfectly. It is VERY light weight, very small, holds hours of music, and has great sound. Mine came with a lanyard. I found that didn't work very well and I don't like the armbands. My solution is a mini cell phone pouch that clips to my shorts. Cost: $6.99 at the local discount store. I barely even know it is there. (Of course to be responsible I need to remind you: Listen to music only in areas that are safe from traffic and other hazards.)
If you are going to walk long distances you need to carry a few supplies. The minimum is a water bottle and emergency contact information. I have a variety of Ultimate Direction fanny packs I have collected over the years. They are well made and seem to be a better value than some other brands. They also make a wide variety, so you can choose the correct one for your needs. They even have a few packs that are made specifically for a woman's shape and size.