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Running Tips Part 5: Gear for Race Day

Posted Feb 11 2011 8:15am

Firstly, I’d like to start this post by saying thank goodness it’s Friday.. this week has been a busy one! I still haven’t recovered fully from my cold and I am so freaking excited to sleep in tomorrow morning. And by sleep in, I mean until around 8am, because that’s pretty much as late as my bod can stay in bed. Even though I go to bed at a fairly reasonable time through the week, I always look forward to getting an amazing sleep on Friday nights. Is it sad that it’s only Friday morning and I’m already excited to jump back into my bed tonight?

In effort to pump up my energy levels for one more day of work, breakfast this morning involved this supercharged version of the Green Monster:

  • 3 frozen spinach nuggets
  • a handful of dinosaur kale (not just for salad monsters!)
  • 1/2 a frozen banana
  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze and water
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • a drop of peppermint extract (supposedly the scent has been shown to make people more alert)
  • 1 tsp maca root powder (for its energy and immunity-boosting properties)
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed (because of its healthy essential fatty acids)
  • 1 tsp each cinnamon and guar gum
  • lots and lots of ice

Yum yum yum!

Racing Gear

Today is the 5th part of my Running Tips series. Initially there were only going to be 5, but when I finished my first draft of this post I realized it was waaay too long, so I’ve broken it into 2.  Links to all 5 running posts so far are now on the ‘Top Posts’ tab above, so check it out if you need to refer back. You’ll see the tips for race day next week, but today, let’s have a chat about racing gear.

Spandex and shoes and energy gels, oh my!

There’s a lot of things to remember on raced day, and I learned early that the easiest way to reduce pre-race stress is to make sure that you pack early, not the morning of the race! In addition to the basics (which I will list shortly), you might be wondering about the following…

Clothing: Depending on how cold it is when you race, you might start off wearing a few more layers than you finish with. For the October half marathon I ran, I layered up with a sports bra, tank top, and long sleeve shirt. I opted for running capris because I thought I’d get way too hot in pants and shorts would just be a little ridiculous for the -10C or whatever ridiculous temperature it was that morning. I’m an advocate of thin layers, and preferably no cotton! Cotton doesn’t dry nearly as fast as moisture-wicking materials and in cold temperatures, you don’t want to be running in cold, wet clothes!

If you have friends or family along the course, you can plan to shed your layers and hand them off when you see them. Alternatively, if you know you want to start with a long sleeve shirt but know you’ll need to get rid of it and don’t have any spectators, you could wear one you don’t really care about and chuck it along the way. I didn’t think people actually did this, but it’s actually really common!

Oh, and a word about socks. Marathons and half marathons are not the time to wear the below-the-ankle-bone, doesn’t-show-outside-of-your-shoes kind of socks – unless you’re really sure they’re not going to fall down. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than worrying about a sock that’s sliding half way off of your foot inside your shoe when you’re mid-race. My favourite running socks are by Under Armour, are moisture wicking, and have a bit of cushioning on the sole. If you’re looking for sock reviews, check out these ones from Runners World. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’d quite like to take these ones for a test drive:

Water Belt and Water Bottle(s). Whether or not you choose to wear one is a matter of personal preference. There are some belts with a pocket for just one bottle, and some that have several so you can carry water and sports drinks like Gatorade if you’re into that sort of thing. Those ones look like this:


Mine just had the one pocket, and it looked like this:

For the half marathons, I relied on the water stations for hydration and didn’t bother carrying a belt. For the marathon however, I figured the belt wouldn’t hurt. After all, I had other things that needed to be carried, like my gels, dried apricots, and tissues (hey, you never know when you’re going to need to blow your nose!) so I used one. One piece of crucial advice: Don’t wear your water belt for the first time during your race! I found it uncomfortable and awkward to wear when I trained, and it definitely took me a while to get used to. I even wore it on the treadmill a few times – and yes, I’m sure I looked like a complete tool. The belt kept slipping up above my hips, and for someone who can’t stand running with anything around her waist, this was super annoying! I  sort of wore it sideways with the water bottle in the back and slightly off-center. The pockets held my food, which we’ll discuss next…

Racing fuel: Again, this is a matter of personal preference and trial and error. I strongly recommend finding what works best for you by experimenting with what you eat before, during, and after your long training runs. For me, the best combination I found was the following:

Morning of the race:

Hmm… sounds similar to a breakfast that appears on this very blog…. must be a good one!

During the race:

  • Water
  • Dried apricots
  • Energy gels

The gels I used were Clif Shots and Carb-BOOM energy shots. I chose these brands because the ingredients are all natural. (In the case of Clif Shots, they’re organic too.) The whole point of gels is to quickly deliver carbohydrates to your working muscles to provide energy, and prevent you from ‘hitting the wall’ and having to stop running. I knew I needed to give my body the energy it needed, but I still wanted to eat as clean as possible. I also knew that my body doesn’t do well with refined sugars (hello, stomach cramps) so Clif and Carb-BOOM seemed like a good choice. I rolled with the strawberry Clif Shot, but there are also vanilla, citrus, razz, mocha, and chocolate ones. For Carb-BOOM, I liked the taste of the strawberry kiwi.



There are several brands of gels out there ( GU , Hammer Gels , Sharkies , and Power Gels from Power Bar are a few popular ones), and most also have little blocks that have a texture a bit like gummy bears. These are pretty tasty too, and they can be a much tidier alternative if you’re klutzy like me and tend to spill things easily. The last thing you want is to have to run the rest of your race with sticky gel all over your hands and face! On that note, if you decide to use a gel, make sure you practice actually consuming it while you run. Tearing the top off and getting it straight in your mouth is a little more difficult than it sounds!


Other bits and pieces to remember: Depending on whether or not you have to travel for your race, you might need to pack a little heavier. However, some things you don’t want to forget…

  • Your running shoes! (Don’t decide to run in brand new ones the day of the race.. unless you enjoy getting blisters)
  • Whatever you plan to race in
  • Change of clothes for after the race – preferably ones that will keep you warm.
  • Hat – especially if it’s cold outside. You’ll lose most heat from your head, so it’s a good idea to keep your noggin covered!
  • Race confirmation, race chip, bib number, and safety pins to attach it to your shirt
  • Luggage tags – if you’re going to be leaving a bag with the race’s baggage check
  • Hair ties – if your hair needs them! On one of my long training runs, my hair elastic broke at around the 3km mark and I didn’t have a spare – not fun!
  • Sunblock
  • Deodorant – for everyone’s benefit, not just your own! :P
  • Tissues
  • Race fuel and water belt
  • Water
  • Whatever you plan to eat pre and post race
  • Emergency phone numbers – you usually have to write one on the back of your race bib
  • Body Glide or Vaseline – I’ve never used either but they are useful if you’re worried about chafing – ouch!
  • Band Aids – because you never know when you might need one
  • Camera – so that you can take a picture when you finish the race and send it to me with a recap to tell me how awesome you were!

Finally, a little motivation to get you going this morning…. for a run, perhaps?


Questions for today:

  • If you’re already a seasoned runner, what is your most memorable race experience?
  • If you’re a newbie, what are some of your goals for your first race?

Have a fantastic weekend! :)

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