The shorts, which cost $100, fit tight and ensconce leg muscles. The $55 calf leggings, which pull on like foot-less socks, subtly squeeze your lower legs as you run, providing support and increasing blood flow, the company touts.

In the end, I finished the Blue Ridge Marathon in a bit less than four hours, my time of 3 hours and 57 minutes netting me 37th place in a field of about 300 fit runners. For me, gear like the calf wraps and the fancy shorts worked, providing comfort and support for 26.2 miles. The lightweight shoes felt fast on the feet. In “America’s Toughest Road Marathon,” it’s these little extras that can make a difference and give that needed extra edge.

–Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.