Congratulations! You’ve signed up for a race (in my case yet another race, groan), you’ve been training hard and you’re well on your way to smashing your PB. But what in the heck do you need to make sure you’re fully prepared for the big day?
Here are my personal race essentials whether I’m running a 10k or a half marathon.
If you’re anything like me, I’m constantly thinking about food, snacks, post meal snacks, in between snack snacks and so on! But I’m also not great at eating much of a meal before a race, sometimes I’m way too nervous and just can’t stomach anything (which isn’t ideal), so I make sure that I’ve got a couple of bananas, I also enjoy the Bounce Energy Balls and I’ll take a gel or two with me for during the race if it’s a half marathon. Try out in training different snacks and take any that you feel have worked best for you.
2. Running Belt
This was a game changer for me, I don’t know what I’d do without my running belt for all of my essentials. I usually only keep my iPhone, headphones, gels and some tissues in there so it’s not too heavy. When I ran the Cardiff 10k a few months ago I had to take money and car keys with me and it was bouncing around the whole 6 miles which drove me insane, so try and pack light if you can.
3. Safety Pins & Bib
I have somehow acquired quite an extensive collection of safety pins that I never had before! They’re in my car, every drawer, pockets and cupboards but sometimes you aren’t provided with them so just make sure you’ve got some on you. And obviously, you will need to take your race bib with you, if it’s been posted. You don’t want to get all that way and forget it.
More and more races don’t allow headphones these days and often race instructions will say if they have banned them and you’re caught using them you’ll be disqualified so make sure you double check before using them. If they are permitted, don’t forget to add these to your race kit the night before, you never know how handy your power song might be.
5. Set Paces on Garmin
This is one thing that I always make sure I’ve done the night before a race. When I’m inputting these into my Garmin, I take the absolute slowest pace time that I need to consistently stay above to stay on track and then my ‘I’m amazing and I’m like a gazelle and I’m going to win this race’ pace. When I go over or under these paces, my Garmin will beep to let me know I’m going too slow or too fast (let’s face it, it’s rarely too fast).
6. Charge any Gadgets
It would be awfully disappointing if your Garmin ran out half way through a race, and equally if your mp3 (my phone) player ran out of battery at the crucial moment. I put these on charge before I go to bed on race eve.
Ok so let’s get real here, sometimes you don’t feel great before, during or after a race. I used to get this a lot when I first started out running. My stomach used to do somersaults after I’d finished a race and it’s not always ideal when you’re at a race to find somewhere to nip to the bathroom. Even now, I will always keep an Imodium in my car or sometimes in my running belt just in case.
8. Race Gear
I always lay out my running clothes the night before just to make sure I’ve chosen the right socks (if you’ve ever worn the wrong socks, trust me you don’t ever make the same mistake again), race top and bottoms. That way I can put them straight on when I wake up and I’m ready to go.
9. Spotify Playlist
If you are permitted to listen to music I’d highly recommend creating a running playlist. Put all of those awesome songs which just give you the confidence and drive to really push yourself. Make sure that you make it long enough though, there’s nothing worse than your playlist coming to an end a few minutes before the finish line and you were counting on that last song to get you through the pain!
10. Garmin Livetrack
Back to my Garmin again, what did I do before I had one!? If you don’t know what this is, you can input an email address into the Garmin Connect app and as soon as you press start and have a GPS signal, it will ping an email to your designated email address and they can track you in real time as to your whereabouts from this link. I use this mostly in the winter so that someone knows I got home safe but I also use it for my races for any spectators that have come with me. It means that they know roughly when I’m going to finish and don’t have to wait by the finish line for too long.
11. Hair Ties & Clips
There’s nothing worse than starting out running and realising you haven’t got anything to tie your hair back with… and it’s boiling… and you have to race x amount of miles feeling like a sweaty long haired afghan hound. I always regret not bringing one even on the colder days.
12. Foot Maintenance
There’s not many things I hate as much as looking at feet and I’m baulking at the thought of even talking about them (don’t get me wrong, I also love them). I can’t even tell you how many times I’m at the start line of a race and it is apparent to me that my toenails are wayyyyyyy tooooo long and then it’s all I can think about if they’re niggling me. I’d recommend doing a little maintenance on those tootsies before you hop into bed the night before just to make sure. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
13. Sports Tape
Sometimes this is on my list of race essentials if I have an injury flare up. In particular I have had issues in the past with the back of my knee and taping it up has helped immensely (my physio showed me the best places to put it).
14. Race Instructions
I’m the type of person that can’t plan too far ahead. There’s too much going on in my head and I can’t fill it with more information than I absolutely have to (it’s full of Friends quotes mostly). The night before a race, I will check the race information that I’ve got, I’ll plan my journey and usually give myself around an hour to be at race HQ before it starts and account for traffic and getting lost (which only happens to me every time).
So go out and enjoy yourself and know that you’ve worked hard and the rest will pretty much take care of itself.
I hope you’ve found some of these useful. If you have any other race essentials that you can’t live without, leave a comment below I’d love to hear them.