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How to Pack For a Race

The Top 5 Mistakes Runners Make When Packing For an Out-of-Town Race

Whether you're going away for a 10K, your first marathon, or a triathlon, packing can be overwhelming and stressful, but Clif Bar's dietitian Marni Sumbal MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N — 11-time Ironman finisher, Ironman coach, and total expert on how to pack for an out-of-town race or event — has some solid tips for you. And by tips, we mean how to avoid total rookie mistakes that many of us have made in our early racing days (and might still make on occasion).

There's a fine line between packing enough and packing too much — Marni helps us figure out how to toe that line and pack for success. Traveling for a race is fun and exciting, so make sure packing woes don't put a damper on your experience.

  1. Mistake 1: Not Bringing Your Special Foods. "Not bringing along must-have food items is a huge mistake," said Marni. Relying on stores when you get there and "hoping to find [your special foods] locally, like a specific kind of nut butter, bread, cereal, etc.," is a risk you don't want to take for a big endurance event. Pack that stuff!
  2. Mistake 2: Not Making a List. The next big mistake? "Forgetting items!" said Marni. "Make a list so you don't forget, especially if you are rushed when packing." A good rule of thumb? Don't leave your packing to the last minute.
  3. Mistake 3: Not Bringing Extras. Marni says to always have backups of your go-to products, just in case. "Two pairs of run shoes, extra goggles, nutrition, etc."
  4. Mistake 4: Not Checking the Weather. Marni reminded us to always "check the weather ahead of time," saying that "even if weather says hot or cold, assume that the weather can change. Always bring extra gear for the 'just in case.'" So have your ideal race-day outfit and then a backup for another temperature (i.e., if your go-to is a tank and shorts, bring a long-sleeved tee and leggings).
  5. Mistake 5: Overpacking and Overwhelming Yourself. The last mistake was "bringing too much and feeling overwhelmed," she said. "Packing is stressful. Keep a list of items you use in training so that you don't overthink what you need for race day." Plus, no one wants to pay those oversized bag fees on an airplane, right? Pack extras of the basics and must haves, and ditch the rest.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Rima Brindamour
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