I am getting more and more excited every day for the start of indoor track season! Racing on the track is one of my favorite parts about being a collegiate runner and I know some of you (well, for lack of a better word) older runners out there might be looking to try out a track race or two this year. To help you and other track newbies, I thought it might be helpful to discuss what to pack in your track bag. It took me awhile to learn what to bring to meets in order to remain comfortable and relaxed. Packing your track back is a tricky business because during a track meet it’s likely you will be running multiple events but will also have a lot of downtime.
So, whether you’re a seasoned track pro or new to the oval, here are a few tips about what to pack in your track bag.
Find a good sized bag that’s easy to carry and find in a crowd. I’m on a team, so all of our bags look the same and are differentiated by number. We have medium-sized duffle bags with two side pockets. I keep my spikes, racing socks, and racing headband in one side, where I know I’ll always be able to find them. I never have to worry about losing my things if I keep them in the same side all of the time.
Pack more clothing than you think you need. I recommend never wearing your uniform or racing outfit to the meet, and not to put it on until your final bathroom trip before your race. This is because you never know what could happen, especially during outdoor meets. You could get rained on, fall on the ground and rip something…you get the picture. I bring a lot of clothing – extra underwear, socks, and long-sleeved shirts especially. It’s also nice to have a new sports bra to put on after your final race. Don’t forget your trainers! I also usually bring a pair of comfier shoes to wear after the race (usually Ugg boots or moccasins with wool socks) – I don’t put them on before the race because they tend to make me unfocused and a little too relaxed.
Snacks, snacks, snacks and water! I could write a whole post about what to eat at track meets, but for now I’ll leave it here – make sure you have snacks and a LOT of water. Indoor track is famous for “track-hack,” or a constant cough you get from the lack of air circulation. With that said, keep your water bottle full and drink from it throughout the day. You don’t want to get dehydrated. If you get dehydrated easily, you may want to bring along electrolyte pills, Gatorade, or Nuun. As for snacks, bring things that are easily digestible. I especially like picky bars because they’re easy on my stomach, and if I’m running multiple shorter races, I also really like energy gels with caffeine, especially if my races are less than two hours apart. But do what works for you – some of my teammates eat pretzels, Chex mix, almonds, and bananas. To help alleviate dry mouth, you’ll probably see many runners chewing gum – perhaps even during their races.
Medications and first aid. Yes, there will be trainers and doctors on site. Yes, you will probably be fine. And, if you are on a team, there will probably be a big first aid kit. But there are some things that I always bring. I have a sensitive stomach, and while there are multiple bathrooms available, I always bring Immodium and Tums. I don’t recommend taking painkillers before races, but if you’re really achy, bring along some Advil or Tylenol, whatever your preference. Those are the things I bring – whatever else is up to you. Maybe an inhaler if you’re asthmatic or nose strips if you know breathing will be an issue for you. Bandaids, medical tape, and alcohol wipes may also be on your list if you’re prone to falling or getting spiked.
Any other random things to make you comfortable. By this, I mean headphones and an ipod (and a charger if you’re going to be there all day), books, extra hair ties, playing cards…you name it. Oh, and deodorant. It will make you comfortable, but it will also make others around you comfortable too. I don’t recommend bringing body spray or perfumes during an indoor meet, because the air is already so concentrated and you never know if someone may be allergic to a scent.
Hopefully this helps, and you’ll be ready to pack for your next track meet very soon!