Tomorrow I will take on one of my most hated challenges ever- PACKING. And not just any kind of packing…the worst kind of packing…packing for my 100 miler. So much can happen over 100 miles so how do you decide what you’re going to need – what you actually want to haul on a plane, rental car and back again. So I decided to take what I learned from last year’s hundo to put together a list of the race weekend essentials. Hopefully this will be helpful for anyone planning an “away” trail race or ultra… 😉
Just note, I’m adding a few additional “layers” to this trip given temps can drop into the 20’s at night. Buhhhrrrrrrrrrr.
- Running shoes: DUH. But also important. Bring the shoes you plan to race in (hopefully a couple pairs that you can race in) and any shoes you want for hanging around the campsite or even for recovery. I will likely bring 3 pairs. My Salomons, Hokas and my lighter Asics (mainly for getting around everywhere else I’m not running).
- 4-5 pairs of your favorite running socks (I always pack extra socks, you never know if you’ll want or need to change them at any point. Overprepared is always better and socks don’t take up that much room). For me, its my Balegas all the way.
- Compression sleeves and / or socks: I’m bringing my calf sleeves, arm sleeves and a pair of socks. If it’s not too too cold out, sometimes I’ll use the sleeves or socks to cover my legs for the night run instead of having to change into pants (you should have seen my crew trying to get those damn things on my disgusting, muddy legs last year – have fun this year guys…ha!). Having an extra pair of calf sleeves or socks never hurts for recovery afterward (especially when flights and long car rides are involved!).
- Running shorts & tights: I usually bring 2-3 pairs of running shorts (especially if I know it’s going to be HOT, HOT, HOT!) so that if I ever need to change them or one pair is bugging / chafing / riding for whatever reason, I can swap them out. I also bring a couple pairs of running tights. Again, if you know the temps are going to drop, be over prepared. When your body is already exhausted, your ability to warm yourself up is not as good as when you haven’t been running for 12+ hours. Trust me.
- Sports bras, tank tops: I usually bring an assortment of all of these things (about 3-4). Not just for running but also milling about at the start/finish line area the day before and after. Grab the stuff you know you can race in and always have a couple of changes (again, nothing like changing your shirt when you are HOT and soaked to the bone).
- Sweat pants: Seriously, there’s nothing better than getting across the finish line and discarding your disgusting smelly clothes and putting on a pair of good, comfortable sweat pants. Because really, do you want to put on jeans right away? Get in yo sweat pants…and be as dirty as you need to be before you’re ready for shower or sleep. 😉
- Dry fit long sleeves: I usually have one for the morning hours, one for the night hours and another for the next morning hours so I have something dry and warm to put on (treat yo’self). 😉
- Running jacket & rain jacket: I usually bring a jacket I can run in that will keep me warm if the temps drop super low…and if it’s waterproof – that’s a bonus.
- Warm headband: I have this amazing “headband” that you can wear like over your head and ears that I must have bought for skiing and I LOVE it for running because I can wear it under a hat or even under a beanie if it’s super cold out.
- HATS! I’m not necessarily a hat person…but for this stuff, you need to become a hat person. Suck it up and bring something you can protect yourself from the sun in and another to keep you warm at night. And maybe even one that you can enjoy once you’re finished running.
- Gloves: Running gloves will save your hands in the nippy morning and night portions. Couple the gloves with a pair of arm sleeves and you’re probably ready for anything (oh and put on your pants too).
- And plenty of underwear. You decide on that one.
- Nathan Hydration Pack & Nathan Hand Bottle: Last time I wore my pack until the sun went down. It was hot and I needed to have more fluid on me at all times. When night fell, I switched to my hand bottle to give my back a rest. If at all possible, bring more than one option so you can switch at any time you need to (or are able to)!
- Headlamps + Flashlights: You need both. Trust me on this one. Bring both and bring more than one. The first 100K I did – it was my first night run ever, actually – I brought one stupid little headlamp and couldn’t see a damn thing. We were running through a dense fog and I was crying and sliding down a bunch of hills for like 5 miles until my animal senses kicked in…or I was so out of it, maybe the crazy helped me finish in the dark….Either way, having a flashlight in your hand and headlamp on your head will not only help if it’s really dark or foggy but if you break your light, lose it, or it runs out of battery, you’ll have backup
- Watch: I sort of hate running with a watch…and I was lucky to have a pacer who wore a watch the whole time for me last time…but if you have cut-offs to make, you best get your butt in a watch. I’ll be wearing my Suunto this year.
- Portable charger for your phone / your phone: This one is probably debatable. But I like to feel safe and like I could get ahold of someone in an emergency if there was an emergency.
- ShowerPill Wipes: Seriously, I’m not joking. You need these. In your pack or otherwise on your person. In your drop bags, with your crew and even in your finisher’s bag. Not just to get clean from time to time…but in any event you might need a wipe (a good wet one that works quick — ahem). AND – trust me on this, there is NO better feeling that wiping your face clean when the sun goes down and doing it again when the sun comes up. It’s like coffee, only maybe even better.
- Hot water thermos: I always bring one so that my crew can make oatmeal, soup or even coffee for me during the night. It’s the BEST thing ever to come into an aid station, see your crew and a piping hot cup of….
- Camping gear: If you’re camping, bring your gear and keep it comfortable. Sleeping bag, pad, tent and a nice big lantern for sitting around. Camp stoves are great too – especially for getting that hot water going – if you have one!
- Sunscreen and chapstick. Duh. Just duh.
- Pocket knife: has a variety of uses for your crew – from cutting moleskin to cover your blisters, spreading peanut butter or opening things for you. Just bring one.
Food, drink, misc:
- Whatever food you will eat / want to eat during your race. Whatever works for you, pack it. I pack energy gels, rice balls, cookies (the softer, the better), and PB&J sandwich halves (a must-have for me).
- Candy and / or mints: I don’t know if this is true or not but I don’t care – but I believe that having hard candies and / or mints can help calm down an anxious tummy or curb nausea. I’ve dealt with it so many times myself and have paced others who I’ve helped with this trick. There’s just something good about sucking on a hard candy that makes it all gooo away….or at least, almost all away.
- Candy you like / other treats you like: Have something that you LOVE to eat and will look forward to eating with your crew. That way, you’ll always have something to dream about (er, look forward to) while you run. I just discovered Barnanas (thanks to my friends at Coeur Sports) and if you like bananas + peanut butter or bananas + chocolate…um, get you some!
- Coke: Not diet coke or some other form of diet soft drink. Real coke. The kind with the sugar, the calories, caffeine and the syrup that can help coat your tummy. A little Dixie cup full of coke every now and then can go a long way. To me, it’s a perfect sugar, calorie and caffeine bomb.
- Instant coffee: You probably won’t find any Starbucks on the trails so bring something instant and easy to prepare.
- Instant oatmeal: If you’re camping, this is a GREAT option for an easy breakfast. I load mine up with peanut butter and bananas for an efficient and tasty calorie bomb that won’t tear my gut up.
- Peanut butter. Lots of it. Plain and simple.
- Ginger candies, Tums, Pepcid AC & Advil. I have needed and used all of these things during a race. Fact.
- Salt tabs
- Mostly for the ladies – bobby pins and extra hair ties.
- Moleskin – make sure you have something to save your blistered feet!
Now, how am I going to get all of this in my suitcase? Anyone want to come over and pack for me? Anything you think I missed?
Stay sweaty friends!