The week before a marathon can be stressful. Full on taper crazies, plenty of overthinking and, if you are running a destination race, the stress of what to pack can be a lot to process. Thankfully, packing takes your mind off the fact you aren’t running as much! The best thing you can do is pack earlier in the week so you have the time to get race day essentials in order. Remember the golden rule of racing—no new stuff on race day.
When it comes to what to bring, you don’t want to over pack but you do want to make sure you pack enough so you have options in case the weather suddenly changes or if you simply have a change of heart about what to wear on race day. Packing all of your race day essentials in your carry-on bag is the way to go. That way you’ll have everything you need to run the race with you and won’t have to worry about the airline losing your luggage.
Make a list of everything you will need. Here’s mine:
Race Day Outfit
This should be an outfit that you have tested on a couple of occasions to make sure it will be comfortable for 26.2 miles. It should include everything—socks, underwear/sports bra (for the ladies), top or tops depending on the weather, bottom, hat/visor and sunglasses. You definitely don’t want to find out that your race day shorts chafe after 10 miles. I like to set out my race day outfit from headband to socks and shoes to make sure I’m not missing anything.
I always pack a few different options. You never know if there will be a last minute change in the weather.
Bring a pair you’ve worn for at least one 20-miler. Even if you find a great deal on your tried and true favorites at the race expo, do not run the marathon in them. Save the fresh shoes for after the marathon.
Race Day Fuel
Pack your preferred fuel with you in your carry-on. You don’t want the added stress of trying to find a specific brand and flavor of gel in an unfamiliar city.
GPS watch and charger, iPod/phone and charger, ear buds, fuel belt or hydration system, body glide, hair ties, headband, KT Tape, Road ID Bracelet—exactly what you need is up to you.
In larger races, you may not have access to your gear bag before the race. And you most likely will have to wait around for some time in your corral before the race starts making throwaway gear is essential to keep you comfortable, especially in damp and wet weather, while you wait for the starting gun. Trash bags can keep you warm and dry. If you would rather wear a jacket or sweat shirt, many races partner with local charities that collect and donate clothes left in the starting area.