21 years. No, I’m talking about one of my best birthdays ever or the ability to legally consume alcohol. Shockingly, I realized I have been running races on and off for the last twenty-one years. From my glory days at junior high track meets to this weekend’s 26.2 with Donna (though I am only doing 13.1), there are a lot of miles on these long legs of mine.
Though only an amateur runner, I do feel I am a bit of an expert about what to pack for a race. So as race season gets into full swing , make sure you are ready to race. What you bring to the race can be as important as the training itself.
No matter the weather, you will be sweaty and smelly by the end of your race. Sure a shower would be ideal to get rid of the post-race chills and stanky odor but something as simple as a dry tee can do wonders. I like to pack a pair of flip flops or a fresh pair of socks because after all your feet deserve some attention after all their hard work.
If the temperatures are low, this is extremely important. Consider packing a long sleeve t-shirt, garbage bag and ski hand warmers to keep you warm before the start. While racing, the temperature will feel about 15 degrees warmer so cover up while you wait, put on that sleevelss tank or shorts even though it seems ridiculous. Yes, races have waiting rooms or corrals as they call it which really mean heards of people milling around waiting for the gun to fire. The bigger the race, the earlier they will want you to line up beforehand which may mean standing there in the cold!! Do yourself a favor and be prepared!
Runners can wait as long as an hour and half before go time so bring fuel. If its a 5K (which typically a has shorter wait time) or a smaller race and you prefer to run on an empty stomach, still bring your favorite snack for the post-race party. Sometimes a banana and a beer just doesn’t quite hit the spot.
If you’re running a 15K or longer, I believe you need breakfast. What you eat and how long you eat it before you run requires some experimenting that should happen during your training. Do not try something new on race day! Also for longer runs, check out what type of sports drink or energy gel is provided on the race course. Don’t be afraid to bring your own favorite energy boost, because why risk trying something new?
Do the math. If I’ve been running for twenty some odd years, I’m no whippersnapper. To get a jump on those post run aches and pains, I pop an anti-inflammatory after the race. If you are really lucky, look around for a massage tent close to the finish line. Each runner only gets about five minutes on the table so stick around. Your body will thank you tomorrow.
From iPods and Garmins to race bibs and safety pins, runners have lots of accessories. Some races I listen to music, other times I like to clear my head. Sometimes I wear a visor, other times I pick a headband. I must admit that I am incredibly indecisive, bring all my options and make the call at the last second. Pack everything you think you may want to use and don’t fret because most races provide a bag drop service and you can pick it up on the way to the post-race party. Anything you take with you and leave mid-race is usually taken to a local donation site.
Toenails…if you want to keep them, cut them. It’s that simple and okay, that disgusting too.
Good luck and I hope to see you at the finish line!