In the bag

November 16 2015

An ice pack? Extra pairs of shoes? A golf ball? There’s enough going on before a run, race or marathon without having to worry about what to pack in your kit bag. We asked the Fitness First team what they’d recommend you take with you.

During the run: stay light

stay-light

Most people told us they like to carry as little as possible during a run, race or marathon. Generally, water and music were the only two must-haves – and even then, many runners were happy to rely on the water handed out during the race.

While most events will inform you of your race time after the big event, it can be useful to have a way of tracking how well you’re doing along the route. Lots of the Fitness First team advised wearing a watch or taking a phone with a timing app to monitor your progress during the race.

Knowing where to store your keys can be tricky. A good idea is to tie the single key you need to your shoelaces, or pin it to your top with a safety pin (which can also come in handy in the event of a wardrobe malfunction). Otherwise, invest in a good running belt or bum bag. Look for one that fits properly so it won’t chafe or bounce around as you run.

Sandeep Sachdev, Fitness First Nutrition Counselling Manager in Mumbai, says there are always inventive ways to store things during a race. “For example, if you like to have energy gels or supplements with you, think about carrying them in your cap.”

In your kit bag: be over prepared

Most runners find it’s useful to have at least a small bag with them on race day, but it’s worth thinking about the logistics of where to stash it during the day. Lots of events will have storage areas, but check out what’s available on the event website before race day. If the area isn’t secure, you might prefer to leave valuables at home or with a friend.

Again, the general consensus is that it’s better to have your kit bag filled with unused items than to find yourself wishing you had brought along some extra plasters. The sunniest day can surprise you with a sudden shower, so bring a lightweight rain jacket to keep you dry after the race. Even on overcast days, sunscreen is a must, so you won’t be left red faced after the day.

When you’re focused on getting through the run, it’s easy to forget about how you’ll feel afterwards. Make sure you’ve got clothes and shoes to change into. Percy Reynolds, Head of Fitness at Fitness First Singapore, suggests super-comfy footwear as your feet are likely to be sore: “I always bring a cosy pair of Uggs. Slipping your swollen, tired feet into them afterwards is amazing.”

Hannah Sim, Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Fitness First Mumbai, told us she’d never attempt a longer run without a golf ball in her kit bag. They are a great, highly portable tool for self-myofascial release – a way to ease next-day aches and pains by rolling the ball over your aching muscles.

Whatever works for you

At the end of the day, it’s your run, so do it your way. Trust that your usual supplies are probably all you need – even if that’s just an iPod and a banana. Likewise, don’t be afraid to bring something just because you feel better knowing it’s there. As Irwan Mursalim, GX manager in Jakarta, Indonesia, says, “I always bring my ‘Om’ necklace. It makes no difference to my running; it’s just my good luck charm!”

Running checklist – these are our essentials

music

Water – and lots of it! Don’t let pre-race nerves distract you from staying hydrated, so keep taking small sips of water before you begin. Lots of races will have water stations along the way, but remember to bring something to rehydrate with after you’ve finished too.

Music – this is great for a road race, but if you’re doing something like a mud run the water-based obstacles usually mean it’s best to leave the tech at home.

Money – because you never know!

Plasters – it can’t hurt to tuck one of these inside your shorts, just in case of mid-race blisters.

Mobile phone – things can get hectic at the finish line, so it’s useful to have a way of finding family and friends. Plus, we quite like having our phone with us for some mid-race selfies to document the day.

High-energy snack – recovery will be vastly improved if you eat something like a banana or peanut butter sandwich after the race.

Warm, comfortable clothes

Spare socks

Comfy shoes or flip-flops

Sunscreen

Energy gels or supplements – bring these if you usually use them (but we don’t recommend trying them for the first time on race day).

First aid kit

Hair bands

Safety pins

Race information – including your race number and timing chip, if necessary.

How about you? What do you have in your kit bag on race day? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below…