Whether it rains or shines, it’s very important to have all of your essentials ready before race day. If you’ve prepped the night before, it makes the morning much easier to focus on having a great race.
From your breakfast to your race number to your deodorant and – yes – lube, there are so many little things to keep in mind before you hit the road.
Here is a checklist of essentials I’ve learned over the miles that will help you make sure you’re race day ready!
(numbered items are references to images at the bottom of the article)
GOOD RUNNING SHOES YOU’VE TRAINED IN
It all starts with your feet, so make sure your shoes are in good shape and ready to carry you to the finish line. If you’re thinking of getting some new kicks, head to Fleet Feet to get sized up and ready to go! You’ll want to purchase shoes a half size bigger than you normally work out in, and DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT buy a pair of shoes to run a race in that you haven’t broken in.
I guarantee you’ll end up with a nice blister somewhere. You may end up with a missing toenail or two anyways, but don’t worry, all toenails go to heaven!
SET YOUR ALARM!
Or set two or three… Just make sure you’re prepared to get your butt UP. I give myself a minimum of an hour before I need to be out the door. You want to make sure to have ample time to wake up, shower if you want, eat, poop (more on that later), get everything together and be on time in case you hit traffic.
CHARGE YOUR ELECTRONICS
If you’re taking a phone with you, an iPod, a GPS watch, etc., make sure they are all charged up the night before!
This is kind of a personal preference but something to consider. If it’s raining, you’re going to want one FOR SURE to keep the rain out of your eye. If it’s not raining, you may want a visor to keep the sun off of your face or a headband if you’re a sweaty one.
Get this guy in place on your outfit as well as your chip the night before. This will take a few minutes off of your prep time the morning of.
Or for men, your running clothes 🙂 You want to make sure to have something that you’re comfortable in and that you’ve run long distances in before. This goes for everyone. Ladies, I love Lululemon’s Speed Shorts if it’s warm enough, and of course I have my awesome Fleet Feet racing jersey. Girls, make sure you have a good, supportive bra! LADIES – DO NOT WEAR A THONG. My preference is to find shorts that are lined or supportive tights and go commando. One of my favorite signs in the last marathon was “Smile if you’re not wearing any underwear!!”
Speaking of bras… You’ll want to use some body glide or Vaseline around your bra line to help prevent chaffing. Guys, lube up your nips or think about Band-aids. You’ll thank me later. Anywhere else you may chaff, lube it up. Around your arms or thighs are areas that are rubbing while you run.
If you’re fair skinned or running the full, put some screen on! Actually, always just put some screen on! You’ll be out there for a couple of hours regardless even if you’re running the half. So protect your skin! Rodan and Fields “Essentials” (1) is my go-to screen. Great stuff!
For winter runs, the wool socks I recently found at Fleet Feet rock my socks off, literally. They are called Feetures, and another great feature (see what I did there?!) about them is they keep the stink away! They don’t smell. You can wear them for days (not that I have, or maybe I have…) and they aren’t stinky. There’s nothing like a fresh new pair of socks!
GU OR A NUTRITION THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Mucho important! I choose Huma Chia Gels (3) because they are easy to carry and access, natural, and super yummy. No chewing, just gulp it down. There are tons of great flavors out there, so figure out what works for you. I take a gel every 5 miles to give me a little umph.
Some gels or gummies may give you a bellyache, so try them out while you’re training, NOT on race day.
This is a great idea for any runner, and there are tons out there. Go find one you like at the expo! You can put your gels in it, your phone, ID, money, etc. and some of them have a place for earphones to go through too!
STASH SOME CASH!
For the Nashville CMM, the finish and start are not very close to each other, so you might want to stash some cash in a pocket or race belt in case you end up needing a cab ride, can’t get an Uber/Lyft, or you need a snack right after the race (if the free snacks didn’t cut it). It’s always good to have a little on you in case of an emergency.
BREAKFAST AND POOP!
Normally I would not put these together, but these are two of the most important things of your day. Know what you’re going to eat, if you will have coffee, and make sure you have time to do a #2. If you’ve been known to have problems during the race, popping an Imodium is a good idea, and it works. This is the last thing you want to worry about while you’re running.
The last time I ran the CMM it POURED. So I might have stopped off at the Lululemon table at the expo and made a few purchases. One being a new rain jacket!
Honestly, I don’t like running in the rain, especially if it’s cold in the AM. So I treated myself. You can always tie it around my waist during the run. This particular jacket also turned into a vest. This is something to consider if you know your race will be a wet one.
IF YOU’RE TRAVELING TO THE RACE
I’ve recently found a new bag that has changed my life. These Apera bags (5) – the duffle especially – are perfect for fit traveling. There is pretty much space for everything from shoes to sweaty clothes. Now, I’m not saying bring this TO the race, but I just wanted to throw in a GREAT, fit travel must-have!
COLD OR HOT WEATHER
If it’s cold, borrow or buy a CHEAP sweatshirt and/or sweatpants that you can wear to the start line and toss when it starts (think Ugly Christmas Sweater cheap). You can shed them before the race or when you warm up. Discarded clothes are donated anyways, so that’s kind of cool!
On the other hand, if it’s hot (which it was one year. I’ll never forget running in Germantown and seeing 86 degrees on the bank sign as I passed by), stop at every single water station and take a cup. Drink it, splash it on your face or neck, or pour some on your head. This will save you!
Another tip is to take a hand-held bottle of water with you to have when you need it.
A NEW PLAYLIST
If you’re a runner that likes music, make yourself a new playlist of songs that you love or an album that you’ve been wanting to hear. I made an open playlist on Spotify before my Vegas marathon and let people add songs to it, which was so fun!
A GREAT ATTITUDE
Rain or shine, wear a smile on race day! It’s a privilege to be able to run and cover this amount of distance. All of your training and hard work will pay off when you cross that finish line!
Remember when you think you can’t go any further that you CAN. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to be uncomfortable, but you’re capable. I always say – get comfortable being uncomfortable. Believe in yourself and you’ll get there!
Happy racing everyone!