I started running soon after I graduated from college. It wasn’t until 2017 that I trained for my first half marathon. I got “bit by the bug” or “caught the fire” or whatever phrase you want to use that suggests I was hooked on running. From that point on, there has almost always been a race on my calendar or something I’m training for. While I used to be very unsure of how to pack for a race or what to do on race day, I have totally found my groove. I pack very similarly for each race and have a list of race essentials. Ultimately, I lay out my race gear the night before a race and then make a last-minute decision early morning before the race to choose my gear.
These race essentials overlap with a lot of my go-to affordable fitness accessories and are items I have tried, invested in, and have found to work well for me. While I don’t have a next race officially marked on my calendar, I have a couple of ideas for this winter…and whenever I decide, this is what I will pack!
SOCKS & SHOES
The key for socks and shoes is to choose items that are suited for your needs. The kind of race (road or trail) and temperature (hot or cold) will often merit different items for your feet! The biggest factor I consider is moisture-wicking capability and support.
- Balega Quarter Athletic Running Socks: These quarter-length socks never fall down on a run, are made from moisture-wicking material, and have strong durability that I can wear them over and over without ever getting blisters.
- Women’s Wave Inspire 14 Running Shoe: I have bought this exact pair of running shoes six times. These shoes have more support than than the average shoe and work well for me!
When I travel to races, I always pack one option of everything, knowing that I am packing more than I need. Even when I pack based on the predicted weather forecast, I never know how the weather could change last-minute and want to be prepared. The high priorities of clothing items that I wear while running are to have clothes of multiple layers that are moisture-wicking. I like to have tech and loose shirts for tops, compression-fit bottoms, and a supportive sports bra. What I ultimately choose to wear the morning of a race depends on the temperature!
- Nike Tech Short Sleeve Shirt: This short sleeve shirt is loose, moisture-wicking, and perfect for warmer temperatures.
- Nike Tech Long Sleeve Shirt: Same as above, but with long sleeves.
- Adidas Running Response Wind Jacket: This jacket is wind-resistant and super light-weight so I like to throw it over my short or long-sleeve shirt for some extra warmth, knowing I will probably tie it around my waist mid-race.
- Running Man Pullover Quarter-Zip: This pullover was an item I received from participating in another race. It’s a thicker pullover so I use this for cooler temperature races, wearing either a short or long-sleeve shirt underneath depending on how cool the temperatures are.
- Under Armour Women’s Fly-By Legging: These leggings are my absolute favorite. They are tight, high-waisted, moisture-wicking, and make me feel like I’m not even wearing pants. That might sound weird, but I love wearing bottoms that I don’t notice because it’s super annoying to me to have bottoms that fall down, cause chaffing, or are distracting during a run.
- Under Armour Women’s Compression Shorts: These compression shorts are very similar to the leggings, just a much shorter length. I usually wear shorts if the temperature is 40 or above.
- Under Armour Women’s Sports Bra: This sports bra is tight, moisture-wicking, and supportive. Again, I don’t notice it while I’m running, which is exactly what I want.
I always wear something on my head to keep my hair out of my face. I will wear a hat if there’s rain, a headband if it’s warm, or earmuffs if it’s cold.
- Nike Women’s Running Hat: This hat is lightweight and moisture-wicking. I usually only will wear a hat if it there is rain in the forecast.
- Buff Headbands: If there isn’t rain in the forecast, I always wear a Buff Headband. These headbands are thick, non-slip, and keep all of my sweat and hair out of my face!
- Women’s Under Armour Coldgear Headband (not pictured): If it’s 30 degrees or colder, I will swap out a normal headband for some earmuffs!
Race hydration and nutrition is something that varies from person to person. I don’t love carrying things while I run and typically think of myself as a minimalist racer. However, when the lengths start to increase, it’s important to consider race hydration and nutrition. Through trial and error I have found these items work for me!
- Nathan Trailmix Plus 2 Hydration Belt: This hydration belt has two small waterbottles and a small storage space. I will only use this for distances of 13.1 miles and longer.
- Nathan Speeddraw Plus Insulated Handheld (not pictured): Sometimes on runs I will use a small handheld water bottle with storage for a shorter distance.
- Clif Bloks Energy Chews: I use Clif Bloks as my primary means of nutrition supplements during longer races. I keep these bloks inside of my race belt, typically using them every 30 minutes.
- Gum: I love to chew gum before and during the first few miles of a race. It’s a weird habit, but just helps get me in the zone. I keep a piece or two inside of my pack.
- GU (not pictured): Depending on the race, I will pack a few GUs to use during the race.
These items are things I have tucked away in my bag for before or after the race.
- Ibuprofen: I always pack Iburpofen to help with muscle soreness or weird pains before or after a tough race.
- Headphones: While I don’t listen to music during races, I still like to listen to my “pre-race hype” playlist before a race!
- Garmin Forerunner Watch: You will ALWAYS find me wearing my Garmin watch. I have never run without it, especially a race!
- Chapstick: This is another item that I like to have after a race because sometimes the windy conditions or being outside for a while will make lips extra-chapped!
I always pack my pre-race breakfast because I never want to be without fuel in the morning. I keep it simple and stick to what I know. These foods are what I eat before every long run so I know my body responds well to these foods and they will get me though a tough race.
- The power combination: My tried and true breakfast is an English muffin, peanut butter, and sliced banana sandwich.
- Rxbar: I always pack an Rxbar to eat either pre-race if I am feeling extra-hungry, or post-race if I am not in the mood for the food that the race offers.
These items are the bare minimum or “essentials” of what I will pack for a race. If I have all of these items thrown into a bag, I will confident and comfortable for any kind of race! At least I will for sure be confident in my outfit, but the preparation for the distance is an entire separate discussion…
For more information about workout gear, check out my fitness accessories blog post with my go-to gear! As you search for gear, remember that the most expensive items doesn’t always mean the best, and ultimately you have to find what works well for you! Stay in the loop for the latest things happening in Jordo’s World. And happy racing!
This is not a paid review and opinions and experiences expressed in this post are all mine. This post does contain Amazon affiliate links. Jordo’s World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. If you purchase an item through the link I will get a small percentage of the sale which goes toward the development I do for this site.