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What You Need In Your Running To-Go Bag

Bookmark this list so you'll never forget an essential running item.

The running paths near my apartment are pretty much all right next to major roadways. Cars constantly whip by and there are several intersections to cross. Additionally it’s hard to hear the birds chirping, not to mention all of the other nature sounds that make running outside so wonderful.

So I often find myself driving to my parents’ house, which is also a lot closer to work, to get in a morning run on their more-peaceful running path—the W&OD for you Northern Virginia folks.

That requires some planning, which means packing a to-go bag at least twice a week. This ensures that I have what I need to get out the door, get my workout in and get to my office without looking like I’ve just run through the Sahara Desert.

Here are the essentials for a running to-go bag.

Clothing and shoes

Obviously first on the list are running shoes and clothes. You can’t run without them. (Well, you can try, but it might not be that pleasant. Hellooooo, chafing.) It’s easier to pack for my spring and summer runs because I don’t need any layers. Go through a mental checklist to make sure you remember a sports bra if you’re a gal and running socks, regardless of gender. If I almost forget something, it’s one of those two items. Make sure you check the weather as well. Rain always means I need a hat. Bright sun, especially in the summer, means I pack sunglasses. And always fluctuating temperatures dictate whether I’m wearing pants, capris, shorts, T-shirts or sweaters.

Whatever you need to clean up

No one wants to get to a post-run destination all hot and bothered. If you have access to a shower, check beforehand to see if it has shampoo, conditioner and towels. Local recreation centers often don’t. More expensive gyms with high membership fees do. Parents’ homes also do. If you don’t have time for a full shower, take along some dry shampoo and full-body wipes. Local running stores usually stock wipes geared toward athletes. Last, but not least, deodorant is a must, and for us girls so are makeup, perfume and a hair brush. Don’t have time to dry your hair? Put wet hair into a ponytail for a few hours as it dries.

RELATED: 7 Essential Pieces of Gear For Traveling Runners

Empty or full water bottle

This depends on your mode of transportation and length of run. If you’re taking a flight for, say, a race, then you’ll need an empty water bottle or hydration belt to get past the TSA. If you’re closer to home, you likely won’t need water on a short run. But don’t forget a bottle, belt or hydration backpack if you’re going for a long run, especially in hot weather.

GPS watch or other fitness wearable

If you use a GPS watch or other fitness wearables such as a FitBit, JawBone or the Apple Watch, make sure it is charged and in your bag the night before. Or lay it out with the clothes you’re wearing before you head out the door. If you’re traveling, you may also want to take a charger, or at least make sure your device is fully charged before hitting the road or skies.

Running belt & ID

I think you should always run with a cell phone in case of emergency. ID bracelets are also a good idea, particularly if you have any medical conditions or allergies. At the very least, a driver’s license can be tucked into a running belt. Speaking of belts, there are a ton of styles out there, many of which are barely noticeable. You can find one that easily fits a cell phone. Slap it on and forget it’s even there until you really need it.

Change of clothes

Whether it’s yoga pants and flip-flops (my post-race favorite) or a dress and high heels (for work or a nice brunch), having something to change into after you clean yourself up is essential. Tailor the outfit to your needs and where you’re going.

RELATED: Do The Shoes You Where While Not Running Matter?