Race day is finally here. It’s now time to put those days, weeks, and months of training to the test and see how you perform. Even for seasoned and professional athletes, race days can cause jitters. ZOZOFIT knows that there’s a lot to keep track of and to do — you want to make sure you’re well rested and fueled, but also that your bib is attached securely and you get to the start line on time.
One of the most important parts of the race is preparing for the day before. Knowing what you should pack for race day can make a huge difference in both your performance and any anxiety you might have for the event. When you pack for the race, thinking about the best ways to support and improve your performance is paramount. Whether it’s figuring out what nutrition you need or making sure you have your recovery sandals ready, never skip out on getting your bag ready so you have everything you need.
Just remember this age-old advice: never try anything new on race day.
Fuel is what keeps you going, so you never want to head to the race without the proper nutrition. There are different points throughout the race when you need nutrition or something to fuel you: 1-2 hours before the race, pre-race, and during the race.
One to two hours before the race you want to eat something high in carbohydrates. Since most races are in the morning, this means that you’ll want to opt for breakfast foods like oatmeal, bagels, and granola. Each of these is high in carbohydrates and allow for easy protein-rich additions like peanut butter, cream cheese, and other nuts. Focus on eating “light” foods that can keep you full for a long time.
You may also need nutrition right before or during the race. If your event is under an hour (like a 5K), you can probably skip the nutrition, but if you’ll be racing for more than an hour, you definitely want to have something to give you a carbohydrate boost. Great options for nutrition include the ever-popular gels, gummies, and stroopwafels, all of which are available at most specialty sports stores and general sporting goods stores. Make sure your nutrition is packed and you have a place to put it during the race for easy access (usually a running belt or small pocket will work)!
Post-race you also might need something a bit more substantial. Packing protein bars or a peanut-butter sandwich are great options to tide you over until you eat a full meal.
Medicine, Braces, and Other Medical Items
If there’s one thing you never want to forget it is any type of medicine, brace, tape, etc. that you might need to perform. Ensuring that your inhaler, knee brace, and ankle tape is packed and ready to go will offer you a peace of mind. By packing these items before the race, you won’t have to worry about that morning run-around searching for the inhaler or having to run to the 24-hour drug store to buy more tape.
Recovery is key to maintaining your fitness after a race. Sweating causes a loss of water and electrolytes in your body, and intense workouts also call for a need to intake protein. Having a protein drink following the race kickstarts muscle repair and replenishes the carbohydrates in your body.
Before a race, it’s a good idea to pack a premade, packaged protein drink (like Muscle Milk, OWYN, or chocolate milk). If you have space, bringing an electrolyte drink like Pedialyte, Powerade, or Gatorade is also helpful for hydration.
There’s nothing worse than getting to the race and realizing you forgot your watch. Always remember to charge and pack your watch for race day because you don’t want to be running without one of the most useful tools we have available to us!
A good way to remember your watch is to “pack” it by wearing it to bed the night before. By doing this, you make sure that it is charged and ready to go ahead of time.
Sunglasses and Hat
Once the sun rises, comfort is key. Wearing sunglasses and a hat or visor protects both your eyes and your face from the sun’s harmful rays.
Packing sunscreen and bug spray can also be useful depending on where the race takes place and what the weather is like.
Cash, Cards, and ID
While you may not think you need money or your ID while racing, these things are important to have on you if there’s something you want to purchase either right before or after the race, or if there is an emergency. If you are injured and have to go to the hospital (or are taken to a medical tent), having identifying information on you can really help.
In addition, it’s a good idea to have the number for your emergency contact somewhere on your person as well, even if you have their number memorized.
To prevent all of these things from getting sweaty, just put them in a plastic bag before you stick them in your pocket or race belt.
It’s likely that post race your feet (and your legs) will be tired. Changing out of your running shoes can give your feet a break. Prioritize wearing something with good support and cushion, like a recovery sandal. These are designed to reduce pain, discomfort, and fatigue in your lower body.
Change of Clothes
It’s very likely that post race you and your clothes will be sweaty. Being able to change into clean, dry clothes after the race will help you feel more comfortable, because wearing sweaty clothing around is not fun. Definitely opt for packing a t-shirt or tank top, as switching your top often makes the biggest difference in feeling.
A change of socks might be welcome, too, especially when you’re wearing sneakers. Anything you can do to make yourself more comfortable after the race will help keep you energized.