Posted by: David Stewart | July 10, 2009

What’s in your gym bag?

A friend and I carpooled together to a race last weekend (the Foot Traffic Flat). Before the run, he started shedding various parts of his gear, like his heart rate monitor and other things.

"Can I leave these in your car?"

"Yeah… what’s up?"

"I can’t believe it… I forgot my watch, so all of this stuff is just dead weight."

Later, I chuckled about another runner friend who actually forgot his running shoes for an 18-hour relay, a story which has made the rounds for years amongst my friends.

Coaches tell you to lay out all of your "stuff" the night before a race, so you don’t scramble to try to remember things the next morning. I just carry a gym bag loaded with everything I will need for a long run or race, and I just always have it with me, ready to go. This really reduces my stress and minimizes the things I need to remember for a given run or race.

Here’s what I carry all the time in my running bag:

  • Running shoes – may seem obvious, but they are always either on my feet or in my bag.
  • Hats – I always run with a micro-fiber running hat. It keeps the sweat out of my eyes or the rain off my face or my head warm. The joke is that I currently have 10 hats in my bag. Half of them are "dry hats" that I can put on after a run to keep my head from being cold, wet and nasty. Why so many? I seem to have accumulated many of them from being an assistant coach for years with Portland Fit. Others are gifts or souvenirs from races.
  • Amphipod RunLite Hydration belt. This beauty holds up to four little 10 oz flasks for my Accelerade sports drink, and a pouch for my driver’s license, credit card and Gu.
  • A cell phone pouch that I clip to the Amphipod belt.
  • An Amphipod reflective vest. Critical for running in the early mornings or nights in the winter, and for running Hood to Coast. It’s actually not a vest but what they call a "Xinglet," which is a lot less weight than a normal vest.
  • Amphipod Race Number Belt. This is a terrific gadget – it’s a adjustable elastic strap that you use to wear your race number bib in place without safety pins. No more poking holes in technical running shirts or risking a pin poke.
  • Running gloves. Currently these a Brooks, though I will admit to having gone through several pair. Like them, these were scrounged from the clearance table at Portland Running Company
  • Throwaway gloves. These rough-knit ambidextrous babies sell for under $10 at race expos and are intended to be tossed after the race start. (I have three in my bag currently).
  • Extra micro-fiber running socks. I hate running without socks, and if I ever forget to bring a pair, this takes care of it. Currently this is an incredibly ugly pair of Sock Guys I got for free at Fit Right Northwest.
  • Pill case – generic cheap one my wife got for me. Carries salt tablets for marathons.
  • Garmin Forerunner 305 and heart rate monitor strap. This is my speed and distance monitor and tracks run distances and elevations. My electronics always live in a separate zipper pouch in my bag, after years of losing things.
  • MP 3 player, small enough to clip on the back of a running hat. Currently a Creative Zen Stone. Also a lightweight pair of behind-the-neck headphones from Nike. Lives in electronics pouch
  • Sunglasses – a $15 pair of UV glasses in a pouch, obtained at a race expo.
  • Camp towel, hair brush. I often carry a spare camp towel as well. This serves me when I run at lunch and shower in the company gym. The spare towel is because of occasionally forgetting the main towel. I don’t like to dry off using paper towels, but have done it before.
  • Sun Screen
  • The Stick, which feels very good in working over sore muscles after a run or race.

All of these seems pretty excessive, but after a dozen years of races, running and mistakes, it has all taken a permanent home in my bag. Now my prep for a run or race is simple:

  • Grab driver’s license, debit card, car key
  • Snag a dry shirt to change into after the run
  • Put on micro-fiber running clothes appropriate to the conditions
  • Swab my sensitive areas with Body Glide, particularly the nipples.
  • Mix up the appropriate amount of Accelerade and pour into little Amphipod bottles.
  • If it’s a race, grab the goodie bag with race number and/or timing chip.
  • Begin to wonder if I have forgotten anything as I charge out the door.

Of course, out of town races are another matter entirely…

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