by Megan Conner
Whether it rains or shines, it’s very important to have all of your essentials ready before race day. If you’re prepping the night before, the morning is much easier to navigate and allows you to focus on one thing that matters the most: having a great race.
From your breakfast to your race number to your deodorant and—yes—lube, there are so many details to keep in mind before you hit the road.
Here is a checklist of essentials I’ve acquired over the miles that will help make you race day ready!
GOOD RUNNING SHOES YOU’VE TRAINED IN
It all starts with your feet, so make sure your soles are in good shape and ready to carry you to the finish line. If you’re thinking of getting some brand 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 race in that you haven’t broken in! I guarantee you will end up with a nice blister or lost toenail. Now, you may end up with a missing toenail or two whether you have new shoes or not, but don’t worry, all toenails go to heaven!
EARBUDS AND A KILLER PLAYLIST
If you’re planning to jam out while you’re running, make sure you have your playlist set and ready to rock. One year, I took requests on Facebook for a full marathon I was running in, and it was such a great idea. I opened up a playlist on Spotify, and people just went “Oprah” on me and added a ton of songs! I had no idea what would be coming up next. Earbuds are really a personal preference and also something you should use before race day to make sure they don’t pop out or rub against your ears.
CHARGE YOUR ELECTRONICS
If you’re taking a smartphone, an iPod, a GPS watch, etc. with you, make sure they are fully charged the night before. If you’re an avid runner, I can’t say enough good things about the Garmin 630/635. It pretty much does everything including cook you breakfast. OK, maybe it can’t do that, but we’re getting close, right? If you’re gunning for a PR, you’ll want to make sure you are comfortable with your watch, and that it’s reliable.
SET YOUR ALARM
Or set two. Or three. Just make sure you’re prepared to get up early. I give myself a minimum of an hour before I need to be out the door. You want to make sure you have ample time to wake up, shower if you want, eat, use the restroom (more on that later), get everything together and be on time in case you hit traffic.
This is a personal preference, but it’s something to consider. If it’s raining, you’re going to want one to keep the rain out of your eyes. If it’s not, you may want a visor to keep the sun off your face or a headband if you get a little sweaty out there.
Get this guy in place and on your outfit the night before. Even your chip. This will take a few minutes off your prep time in the morning. Every little bit helps on race day.
Or for men, your running clothes. Make sure you have something that you’re comfortable wearing and have run long distances in before. This goes for everyone. Ladies, I love lululemon’s Speed Shorts, and guys, Nike 2-in-1 shorts are perfect since the compression is builtin. Ladies, shirts are a personal preference, so check out lululemon’s singlets. The bra is the most important, so make
sure you invest in a good one. The Brooks Juno Sports Bra has changed my life.
Speaking of bras, you’ll want to use some Body Glide around your bra line to help prevent chaffing. Guys, lube up your nips or think about nip guards (even Band-Aids work). You’ll thank me later. Anywhere else you may chafe, lube it up. Arms and thighs are areas that tend to rub while you run. Basically cover yourself in this stuff. Chaffing will change the way you run very quickly.
If you’re fair-skinned or running the full, put on some screen! Actually, always put some screen on! If it’s a hot day, you’ll be outside under the sun for a couple of hours regardless of your distance. No one likes burnt skin, so protect yourself. Rodan + Fields “Essentials” is my go-to screen.
Balega are great socks, and I tend to race in them as well as my lululemon Speed Socks. For colder runs, the wool socks I recently found at Fleet Feet rock my socks off. They are called Feetures, and another great feature (see what I did there) about them is they keep odors at bay. Seriously, they don’t smell. You can wear them for days (not that I have, or maybe I have…) and no one will faint around you. There’s nothing like a fresh new pair of socks before race day, too.
GEL OR GUMMIES
Very important! I choose Huma Chia Gels because they are easy to carry, natural, and delicious. No chewing, just gulp it down. There’s a variety of flavors out there, so try a few and figure out what works best for your taste buds before race day. You’ll want to plan to take a gel every hour or every five miles, depending on your stomach and energy needs. If you can plan to take a gel right before a water stop, you’ll benefit even more.
This is a great idea for any runner, and there are tons out there. The Nathan Hipster race belt is popular. Find one you like that can carry gels, smartphone, ID, and money. Some of them have a place for earphones to slip through as well.
Muscles take a beating during long runs and races, so I love to throw in a “stick” to take with me. The Addaday Type A+ Ultra Roller is a big game changer, and I have a small one that is easier to pack. They are great for breaking through lactic acid that builds up as well as tight fascia.
BREAKFAST AND POOP
Normally I would not put these two together, but these are two of the most important activities of your day. Know what you’re going to eat, if you will have coffee, and make sure you have time for No. 2. If you’ve been known to have problems during the race, popping an Imodium is a good idea. This is the last thing you want to worry about while you’re running. A great go-to runner breakfast is toast, peanut butter and some fruit. My new favorite peanut butter is locally-made Nut Butter Nation.
COLD OR HOT WEATHER
If it’s cold, find or buy a cheap sweatshirt or sweatpants you can wear to the starting line and toss when the race begins (think Ugly Christmas Sweater cheap). You can shed them before the race or when you warm up. Discarded clothes will be donated! On the other hand, if it’s hot, stop at every single water station and grab a cup. Drink it, splash it on your face and 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 if you don’t want to deal with traffic at the water stops.
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! Make sure you practice everything during training too. From what shoes you’ll be wearing to what you’re wearing to what you’re eating. Don’t try anything new on race day. Remember, when you think you can’t go any further, you can. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to be uncomfortable, but you’re capable. I always say get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you’re thinking about giving up, try to envision yourself crossing that finish line and having that medal around your neck. Remember why you’re doing it, and just believe in yourself and you’ll get there. Happy racing everyone!