Getting ready for a big race is always something that I stress way too much about. It always has been. There are those few things that you need no matter what: socks, uniform, spikes. But then there are other random bits in your bag that you really could probably live without, like rain boots and three Under Armour shirts. The key to not breaking your back as you walk to the bus early on Saturday morning is learning how to balance the necessities with the luxuries.
First thing’s first: weather. Is it supposed to rain? If yes, maybe keep that extra change of clothes stuffed in the bottom of your duffel. And you should probably go ahead and bring those rain boots. Maybe wear your rain coat on the bus- one less thing to weigh down your bag. If it’s going to be 90 degrees, you probably don’t need to bring every sweatshirt you own with your team logo on it. If it’s going to snow, bring a pair of gloves. Really, just check the weather the night before your race and plan accordingly.
During cross country season, I pretty much just empty my entire sock drawer into my duffel bag. Having wet socks is the most irksome thing to me, so I always make sure I have plenty of extras. Everyone has something different that they stress about on race day, so make sure that you minimize your stress and bring enough of whatever your irksome thing is.
An extra set of running clothes is probably a good idea. I mean really, how much does a tshirt and shorts weigh? If you wear spikes, don’t forget a spike wrench! It’s always a bit rushed before a race, so you don’t want to be scrambling to tighten your spikes before you step up to the line.
Always bring food. I’m not saying that you should bring a veggie burger and fries and a bag of chips and a poptart and some Goldfish. But throw in a granola bar and an apple. A little bit of food can make all the difference after a really tough race. Water too- always bring an extra bottle of water.
Something that I always do before I leave my dorm before a race is think to myself ok, what do I NEED for this race? My uniform, trainers, and spikes. Everything else is just for comfort. As long as I have those three basic things, I’m set. Of course, I probably do want my ipod for the bus ride and I can’t forget about those extra socks, but as long as I have my shoes and my uniform, I’m good to go.
So, when packing for a big race (or any race really), just think about what and where you’re going. Don’t bring a parka on an 80 degree day. If you’re in the middle of a drought, you can leave your rain boots at home. Everyone has different things in their bag, but make sure that you have the things that are crucial to your performance. If you’re super paranoid about socks like me, bring enough to fit a small army. Pack the necessities, but don’t feel like you need to skimp on the things that are important to you. And don’t forget your uniform!