If you’ve ever seen me before a race then you know that I have terrible pre-race nerves. It pretty much starts during the taper process where I question everything. Have I trained enough? Can I still run? Am I too fat to run up the hills? Am I injured? Do I have everything? Will I get lost?…. The list goes on… And the nerves just build up. The day before the race all I can think about is the race itself and the morning of the race I’m pretty much a wreck and can’t be around people. But when the time comes and I’m on the start line and the starter gun goes off it’s like I forget all the worries and now all I have to do is run, run really hard and really fast and not stop running.
So to help with some of those pre-race nerves, specifically the “Do I have everything?” one I’ve built myself a travelling running kit. I got the idea from an article in the November 2015 edition Runners World magazine which featured a “Racer’s Repair Kit” and as I currently have an entire cupboard of race gear that I pull bits out of for each race and also that I travel for weekends away for a lot of runs, it seemed like the perfect solution.
The Race Kit consists of all the things that I either want before/after a race or spares of the things that I’m carrying during the race.
The kit in the magazine article that I read was stored in a toolbox, but I decided a large cantilever makeup box would do the same thing. It has a handy strap so I can carry it on my shoulder, Is solid and fairly compact so it’ll pack easily in the car, it clips shut completely and being a cantilever box I can access the contents of all the trays without having to pull bits and pieces out.
Left Side - Top Shelf
- Bounce Ball – Emergency food
- Crystallised Ginger – To settle the stomach in case I get sick during a run
- Eucalyptus Drops – to cleanse the palate after a run, it gets rid of some of that icky post run gel taste
- Tailwind – Emergency stash
- Gels – 2 * Gu Gels, 1 * Hammer Gel. These are backups in case I need spare, or more likely someone else needs one.
- Salt & Caffeine Tablets – Spare pre-packed baggies of salt tablets and a few caffeine tablets (But I only use these for overnight runs)
Left Side - Middle Shelf
- Ear Plugs – You never know what sort of entertainment that the pub I’m staying in may need blocking out the night before the race
- Toothbrush – To get rid of that post run sugar and gel taste
- Aqua Ear – I’m really prone to ear infections, so If I end up in water I need to get it out as soon as possible after the race
- Compact Mirror – I somehow get covered in dirt in every race….
- Ibprofen, Cold & Flu tablets etc – A random selection of tablets
- Buff – These things are awesome, beanie, neck warmer, hand warmer… Whatever I need it to be, I’m almost always wearing a buff during winter.
- Headlamp & Spare Batteries – This is a cheap headlamp but it will do as a backup in an emergency during a race, or more likely light up the port-a-loos before a race.
Right Side - Top Shelf
- Bushmans – This is the only spray that will keep the leeches away, I never ever run in leech country without first spraying my shoes and ankles
- Hand Sanitiser – Runners are gross
- Invisible Zinc – Normal sunscreen tends to wear off during a race but this stuff stays on, and although I may look like a ghost by the time I finish running at least I’m not sunburnt
- Safety Pins – You can never have enough of these, plus not all races give you 4
- Cable Ties – Handy for a couple of the race shoes I have that have elastic laces, also useful to tie things onto my pack
- Hair Elastics – It would be a disaster If I couldn’t pull my hair back
- Pocketknife – Super handy; scissors, knife etc for whatever I’m looking to cut
- Vaseline – I can’t run without this, chafing sucks
Right Side - Middle Shelf
- Bandaids, Blister bandages etc – A mix of different size and style bandaids
- Permanent Marker – Write on drop bags, write splits on my arms, write my race number on my calf, write support crew instructions on milk bottles….
- Pen & Paper – Write down any race instructions or notes, calculate out splits etc etc
- Cash – Because I’m always looking to buy either a coffee, chocolate milk or coke after a race
- Compression Socks – I love wearing these after I finish a race, or even a hard training run. It’s like my legs are being hugged… I also tend to look really stupid, but I wear they work
- Baby Wipes & Tissues – I tend to get covered in dirt when I run (I’m not totally sure how)
- Emergency Poncho – In case it’s raining after/before the race
- Fuel Belt – This is my favourite belt for races, I stock it full of gels and the little zipper pocket at the front holds my salt tablets or used gel packets until I get to a bin
- Voltaren – I’m more likely to use this before a race on some sort of pre-race nerves imaginary niggle
- Microfibre Towel – Refer to the part where I get filthy during races
- Mixed Size Sealy Bags – I use these more for longer runs where I have food packs packed and ready to go at the aid stations
- Plastic Bags – For the filthy running clothes
- Soda Crystals/Epsom Salts – If I have access to a bath or a large bucket my legs get a good soaking, I’ve never actually used the Soda Crystals (normally I use Epsom salts), but they’re in a convenient to transport packet
- Mini Backpack – A pretty cool little Spartan fold up backpack. I find that I’m often carrying things after a race; phone, wallet, swag…
- Travel Clothesline – To hang out the filthy filthy running clothes back at the accommodation so they stink up the entire room
- Kinesiology Tape – A few random sample pieces that I picked up and are to tape up my imaginary niggles before a race (although I’ve never races wearing tape – It’s enough to know that I have that option)
- Pre-packed Mini Kits – I have a couple of pre-packed mini kits for tossing in either a training pack or race pack. They consist of: hand sanitiser, band-aids, baby wipes, safety pins & a hair tie
What’s Not In The Kit
- Mandatory Gear – Depending on the length of the race there’ll be specific mandatory gear eg. Thermals, bandages, rain jacket, running headlamp etc. I just pack these as necessary (plus spares)
- Food – This is also pretty custom to each race, plus in my case it tends to take up a whole greeny bag and consist of milk bottles with tailwind instructions, spare softflasks and then giant plastic sealy bags of smaller sealy bags containing exciting edibles like nutella sandwiches, pretzels, more little salt tablet baggies, spare watches and whatever else I expect I’ll need at that particular aid station.
- Running Clothes – I normally pack 2 sets of clothes for each race “just in case” (I’m not really sure what could happen). My standard race kit consists of:
- Trotters running singlet
- Emerson sports bra
- Under Armour running shorts
- Injinji Original Weight toe socks
- Inov8 Shoes (Trail or Road)
- Buff (Winter), Visor (Summer)
- Packs or Belts – I have the race belt in the kit, but a lot of the races need a pack instead, so depending on the race I’ll raid the packs and choose the right size and a matching bladder
- Watch & HRM – I use this way too much to keep it in the kit. Strava!
- Post Race Clothes – I always have these at the end of the race, but they don’t really need to live in the kit