June 23, 2024

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Marathon Tech Necessities to Gear Up for Success

On Oct. 8, the one-millionth runner crossed the finish line at the Chicago Marathon. The inaugural race on Sept. 23, 1905, had only 7 finishers. More than 1.2 million people have finished the New York Marathon since its first running in 1970, with just 127 entrants and 55 finishers running four laps around Central Park. The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon, beginning in 1897 with 15 participants, and now hosts a field of 30,000 runners annually.

Back to Chicago. I was one of the 40,000-plus runners working their way through the streets of Chicago to the finish line and the potential to be the millionth finisher.

It has been over a decade since I have been able to run a marathon, a 5k, or even around the block. In 2012, I was hurt in an accident at work, leaving my skull cracked, my Achilles torn, my ACL torn, and three vertebrae crushed. For a brief moment, I was paralyzed, having to learn how to walk and, yes, run again.

Before I was hurt, I was an active endurance athlete, finishing several marathons and even the Ironman Triathlon. After the accident, I was broken, slow, and dealt with constant pain.

But thanks to an amazing group of doctors from IBJI in Illinois, a lot of physical therapy, positive thinking, and the many technological advancements in the health and fitness industry, I returned to Grant Park in Chicago to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

You may not be a banged-up 50-something runner, but we wanted to share the latest innovation, tech, and resources to help you with a marathon, triathlon, or New Year’s resolution.

Hyperice Normatec Legs 3 Compression Sleeves

Photo Credit: Hyperice

Let’s start with recovery. Kind of like the horse before the cart, but one of the biggest mistakes athletes and endurance athletes make is not giving their body the TLC it needs to go out and do it again and again. Recovery can mean a day off to stretch and heal because of technical advances. It also means a daily routine to speed up recovery and get you back out there.

The Hyperice Normatec Legs 3 Compression Sleeves$799- I use these at least five times a week, and after a long run or intense workout, it’s a must. These are not new to athletes of all levels or medical professionals. With the many lower body injuries I’ve suffered, this is the go-to for pain relief and recovery. After a long run, I put these on and fall fast asleep, waking up feeling great.  

How does this happen? The Normatec 3 uses dynamic air compression to create a restorative massage that helps you feel refreshed faster. Seven levels of compression and their patented pulse technology deliver precise treatment to 5 overlapping zones with ZoneBoost™ by using biomimicry to replicate the natural muscle pumps and one-way valves of the legs. It helps to flush out the lactic acid from your lower body to your stomach so you can flush it out naturally. Leg pain, back pain, tightness, and soreness- this is a high-price tag item that will keep you doing what you love doing.

Therabody RecoveryTherm Hot and Cold Vibration Knee

Therabody RecoveryTherm Hot and Cold Vibration Knee-$399- Having had 6 knee surgeries, training for a marathon will eventually bring out all the aches and pains in your knee. It’s part of the deal. After a few visits to the Dr., the ongoing theme was “ice and heat and ice and heat and on and on and on.”  This makes sense, but in a world where we are on the go, even when we’re doing our best to sit still, the simple act of 20 minutes of ice or heat can seem overwhelming.  

Photo Credit: Therabody

This is where the Therabody RecoveryTherm Hot and Cold Vibration Knee system comes into play (he types while wearing it). Picture a knee brace that Tony Stark invented, full of cool-looking fans and a futuristic control panel, and you have the Therabody RecoveryTherm Hot and Cold Vibration Knee.  

It wraps around your knee like a traditional knee brace, but after that, nothing is traditional. This all-in-one device seamlessly combines cold, heat, and vibration therapy to optimize knee recovery and keep you moving throughout the day. To reduce tension and aches, apply heat. To maximize effectiveness, add vibration for increased blood flow and pain relief. Their proprietary Cryothermal Technology enables fast cooling, heating, and effective contrast therapy. In short, it will make you slobber.

Vitruvian Fitness

Photo Credit: Vitruvian

Vitruvian Fitness-$2900 Being a high-paid innovation writer, I have my pick of cool fitness doo-dads, so when the team from Vitruvian Fitness offered up their innovative new home gym system to help me train for the big day, I said, “Bring it on.”

A common mistake by marathon runners is lots of cardio and not enough strength training, which is as important as endurance and nutrition. As the miles get longer, your core, shoulders, chest, and arms need to be ready to keep you upright and moving towards the finish line. You don’t have to strength train, but it hurts a lot less when you do.

My elevator explanation of Vitruvian Fitness: “It’s every weight up to 440 pounds at your disposal and constantly changing, utilizing cables and tension.” It’s not just another smart home gym. It easily dethrones Tonal as the home gym champion.

Need more? It’s intelligent weight that adapts to you as you’re exercising, using a high-tech system of cables and tension to beat you into the ground and make you better at the same time.  

The cables run along electromagnetic motors that operate using sophisticated algorithms that adjust the weight 40x a second. The AI in Vitruvian reads your motion 1000 times per second, loading the right weight for you at every moment. 

Photo Credit: Vitruvian

Whether you’re feeling fired up or fatigued, the Trainer+ knows exactly when to increase or reduce the load to give you the best workout experience possible.

For instance, as you’re doing a bicep curl, the Vitruvian is reading your effort, and a lot of other data points adjust to ensure that every rep you do is the most efficient use of your muscles. It’s annoyingly great, meaning you can’t go easy on yourself, and you can’t go beast mode to look cool either. It keeps you honest and, more importantly, efficient.

It is every weight all the time packed up into a base and connected to an app, helping you reach pretty much any fitness goal.

Adaptive technology allows multiple training modes. The full-body workout machine gives you different training modes to help you keep your workouts interesting and challenging. 

  • Time Under Tension: It allows you to eccentrically overload, letting you reach your maximum in both concentric and eccentric, creating a more effective workout than traditional weights.
  • Pump: The faster you go, the higher the force, perfect for quick, cardio-like movements.
  • Eccentric Only: Weight-loading only on the lowering phase of an exercise.
  • Old School: You set the desired weight and train as you would with metal weights.

The Trainer+ boasts a reinforced carbon fiber shell, ensuring its durability and longevity. Its slim design and recessed wheels make it easy to store safely and out of the way without taking up too much space. All of that technology is built into a platform that can slip under your bed when you’re not using it. This is great for apartment dwellers and at-home gyms where you don’t have a lot of space for weights and machines.


Yes, cannabis is something I use several times a week to help me with my training and recovery. No, not in a Ricky Williams-type way, but utilizing the massive advances the cannabis industry has taken to help people make it through their daily lives and sports.

Photo Credit: Avexia

Avexia Pain Relief Balm and Lotion– $50- Top of my list. Training for a marathon or playing beer league hockey, you get a little banged up and need a little help. If you are dealing with pain, tweaked muscles, soreness, etc., who couldn’t use a little relief?

Avexia Pain Relief Balm and Lotion have 100mg THC and 100 mg CBD. I don’t believe in magic potions, but Avexia balm and lotion are as close as it gets. I have yet to have an ache or pain that hasn’t been able to settle down. I rub it on my knees, neck, and ankles before bed, before and after a run, and the many pains and aches that travel along with me are settled down.

How? Topicals like Avexia topicals provide potent pain relief and muscle relaxation effects. When applied topically, THC activates your CB2 receptors more than it activates your CB1 receptors. While the brain’s CB1 receptors get you high, the peripheral nervous system’s CB2 receptors regulate pain and inflammation.

I also use KOI Healing Balm 1000 milligrams and HIVE with a whopping 5000 milligrams, which are CBD-based and have higher amounts of milligrams to help with pain relief. 

Avexia 1:1 Tincture CBD Black Raspberry Road (100mg CBD/100mg THC)– $40Anxiety and sports go hand in hand like Northwestern football coaches and hazing. As a marathon runner, my nerves about a long 20-mile run can keep me up all night long or wake me up at stupid o’clock, ready to run. Sleep is a major factor in endurance sports, and Avexia 1:1 CBD Black Raspberry Road (100mg CBD/100mg THC) is a great, low-impact way to calm down anxiety, relax your brain, and allow you to fall asleep. It features MCT oil as a therapeutic carrier for 100mg CBD and 100mg THC cannabis oils. This convenient tincture provides the benefits of THC and CBD, with less of the psychoactive effects commonly associated with THC. I am an early AM runner, usually hitting the trail by 5:00 a.m. A few drops of Avexia around 5 p.m. has me relaxed enough to fall asleep by 8:00 p.m., allowing me about eight and a half hours of sleep, waking up well-rested with no residual side effects.

Other Necessities

I can go on for a while. The best type of watch? Has to be the Garmin- Fenix7– $700 This tech has a solar-powered battery that lasts 14 days.  

Shorts that absolutely don’t chafe- Lululemon (who knew). 

Hoka are the best shoes for pretty much anyone over 40. They are padded, supportive, and so very comfortable, and on and on.

Photo Credit: Vuarnet

Vuarnet ROADThe last piece of high-tech training gear is from the OG of sunglasses from France. Originated for outdoor sports, Vuarnet has been innovating and creating new ways to protect your eyes and enjoy everything from a baquette and coffee to summiting Everest. Their ROAD sunglasses continue in that tradition for $305. Designed with performance in mind, it features a single shield for an unobstructed view. It has a curved frame made from bio nylon with adjustable temples for a customizable fit. The lens is made in France from bio nylon and outfitted with HD technology. I start running in the dark and can keep them in my pocket without feeling like they are there while running. They feel light but sturdy on my face as I run and, most importantly, block out the sun, don’t fog, and look cool.

This is all the technology I used as I worked toward my goal of finishing the Bank Of America Chicago Marathon! You may not need quite as much, but it’s good to know if you do- young, old, healthy, working on being healthy, marathon runner, or weekend warrior. The technology in the running, fitness, and recovery industries continues to evolve, making it easier to achieve your goals and stay healthy at the same time.

For me, the Chicago Marathon was an immense success thanks to the help of this innovative tech! 

Picture of By David Wallach

By David Wallach

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