Packing for a Marathon 101

I am by no means a racing expert. I rarely find races worth the anxiety or entry fees. 

However, I have run quite a few races this year and can tell you that it’s absolutely a good idea to do your race-day packing the night before. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard enough falling asleep the night before a race without the added stress of having to think about what you need to pack in the morning.

But the real reason you’re going to want to lay everything out the night before, is to get an awesome picture to Instagram, to let all of your followers know you’re a total badass with a race in the morning, and yes, you will be flawlessly color-coordinated.

(Instagram Exhibit A) 

(Instagram Exhibit B)

Running races in New York City, packing is usually fairly easy. But for my first marathon, I would be travelling 5 hours upstate to Corning, NY. Shockingly, packing went pretty well so I thought I would share my list with you, in case you’ve got a destination race coming up. Also, so I can look back at this and repeat it next time around!

Running Gear 

-First and foremost SNEAKERS. Both of my parents asked me multiple times, “You’ve got your sneakers right?” So much faith in me. Although in High School I did show up to my math final without a calculator. D’oh.

-Compression. I knew I would be running in my CEP compression socks, so those were definitely coming, but I also threw in my 2XU calf sleeves as back-up.

-3 different race-day outfit options. I swear, this wasn’t completely excessive! One outfit featured my Nike Pro shorts if I decided I wanted to go the spandex route. Another featured my Old Navy split shorts with undies inside. And the third was Old Navy capris, in case I decided it was cold enough to run in capris instead of shorts. Obviously each of these bottoms required a different matching top and sports bra.

-Fall marathons mean cold starts. I had prepared by going to Goodwill and buying myself an $8 running jacket that I could start the race with and throw away without caring too much when I warmed up.

-Arm warmers. When people looked at the weather forecast for the day of my race and told me what they thought I should wear, pretty much everyone said arm warmers. Uhm, what? I have been brainwashed into buying a lot of running gear that’s probably not 100% necessary, but arm warmers were something that I refused to get behind. Until I ran a marathon in homemade arm warmers and realized they’re genius.

-Headband that I didn’t end up wearing because it didn’t match my outfit (#Vanity)

-I had decided that I would be leaving my cell phone with my grandparents the morning of the race so that I didn’t need a belt, but I am indecisive, and didn’t trust myself not to want it at the last minute, so I threw my belt in just in case. Happy to say I stuck with my gut and didn’t end up running with the belt.
-The Nike GPS watch that David lent me was bigger than my arm, but so clutch. I am so glad I had it! I definitely can’t imagine having run the marathon without it (ugh, is this the beginning of me cracking on buying a damn watch too?)

-Nutrition is something that I still have yet to master, but I threw in some of my trusted Quest bars, Chia Squeezes and GUs to have with me.
-Agua? I also fail at hydration but I have some water bottles that are supposed to go in one of the Nathan TrailMix belts so I threw one of those in just in case I decided to be spontaneous Sunday morning and hold the water bottle to avoid stopping at water stations. I never really considered this, but I had the water bottle with me so I’m listing it here.

-Heatsheet! I had sniped one of these after the Brooklyn Half to save for later and I am SO glad I did. This sucker saved my life while we waited an hour and a half before the race Sunday morning.

-The stick. Because my calves are jerks.

-Trigger point foam roller. Because who doesn’t love a little pre-race torture?

-Icy hot that felt oh so good  Sunday night.

-The typical toiletries that you would bring on any trip (+ Extra Ibuprofen!)

-Camera and charger!

-Normal people outfits (I forced myself to dress in real clothes when we went out to dinners except that I totally wanted to stay in workout gear the entire weekend. Ultimate comfort.)

-Car ride reading materials courtesy of Claudia- “Bone Health for the Endurance Athlete.” Except that I just ended up sleeping the majority of the car ride. I am a damn good napper.

There you have it! I had to take the LIRR and subway with all of this stuff, so I did a pretty good job keeping it minimal but making sure I had everything I needed.

And most importantly, I got a great Instagram shot.

(The money shot, right there!)

Is there anything you think I was missing that you always pack for a race?