The other day, Monica over at Run, Eat, Repeat (aka my life motto) did a post on 10 things a runner should do before a race. They’re all very important tasks that most experienced racers do without thinking, but it’s worth a mention to someone new to the racing world.
Since I run 99% of my races in Philadelphia, I do these things automatically when I’m at my apartment, but as I was packing to go home for this weekend’s Blue Gray Half in Gettysburg, PA, I noticed that I wasn’t as organized as I hoped. It never occured to me how you need to put more effort into prepping to run somewhere out of your comfort zone.
1. Check, and double check, the weather.
You can’t change it, but at least you’ll know what to expect and you’ll have a chance to pick up some extras (sunscreen, salt tablets, throwaway gloves) to help you get acclimated to the changes.
You don’t have to tell me twice. My motto for packing for out of town races is “When in doubt, throw it in.” In addition to essentials such as your shoes and sports bras, make sure you pack for any possible weather issues. Granted, if you’re running a race in California in August, you probably won’t need to pack your long running tights, but with the East Coast weather as unpredictable as it often is, you don’t want to wake up on race day wishing you had packed your favorite New Balance tank or a long-sleeve pullover. Yes, you can buy a new one, but it’s always nice to be used to your clothing before you get to the start.
3. Print out directions.
I’m kind of old school, get over it. If you’ve never been to the race start before, you won’t know where you’re going or how to get there. And what if you’re in Pennsyltucky and they don’t even know what 4G means? Siri can’t help you now. But if you print out directions from your website of choice, you know that you’ll have easy access to a clear route to get there.
4. Pack a race bag.
Post finish, you’ll be sweaty. Do everyone a favor and pack some clean clothes. I have a tendency to get VERY cold after I run (probably from dehydration and sweaty clothes) so I packed a full change of clothes to make the 45 minute drive back to my parents as comfortable as possible. My personal favorite item is my Lululemon Scuba Hoodie. You’ll NEVER be cold.
5. Don’t forget snacks.
I recommend bringing your race fuel from home, such as GUs or Honey Stingers. If it’s what you’ve trained with, continue it through the race. It’s not the time to try something new or hope that you can pick up a few at the expo. For your post race meal, bring some snacks such as a banana, half-bagel, water/Gatorade. You don’t know what the finish line will be like or what (if anything) they’ll have available. Throw in something delicious for your mom if you’re making her hold the race bag like I am.