Readers Roundtable: What Do You Take with You on the Run?

I know many will think I'm crazy, but I love the freedom I feel when it's just me and the road beneath my feet. Image via wikimedia commons.
I know many will think I’m crazy, but I love the freedom I feel when it’s just me and the road beneath my feet. Image via wikimedia commons.

Sometimes I am amazed when I pass a runner and see all the things she has with her: hat; drinks; snacks; music; phone; fancy watch; and more. ย I’m the opposite. I like to run with nothing: no phone; no water; no gels; no identification; and sometimes not even a watch. ย The watch thing I’m not so worried about, but the phone and the identification thing do leave traces of anxiety and guilt in my brain as I head out the door. I still do this even after almost passing out while pregnant alone on an isolated stretch of road three years ago, but the freedom of stepping out the door and just running wins out most of the time for me.

When I’m running I don’t want to care about all that other stuff; I want to just be. I don’t like to listen to podcasts or music outside. I can read and listen to messages when I get back. If I think I’ll get thirsty I run at the park where there are water fountains, but I don’t always run with nothing. If I’m marathon training or worried about bonking I might shove a gel in my bra on a long run. If my stomach is iffy, I’ll stash some tp somewhere just in case. I care about personal safety, but I’m not afraid. I bring my phone sometimes, like if I’m running on dark roads alone or if someone other than my husband is watching the kids. I do tell my husband where I’ll be. I’d never dream of running with pepper spray or any kind of weapon; kinda defeats the purpose if I’m running in that much fear that I need that stuff.

So there are those sherpas and there are those minimalists like me. I’m guessing most of you are somewhere in between. Tell us: what do you find necessary to bring on your runs? ย 


Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. At home before sunrise: nothing but a GPS watch (and vest and sometimes light).

    Away, sometimes a cell phone if I risk getting seriously lost.

    After sunrise, sometimes two ounces of sunscreen and a long sleeve shirt.

  2. What I pack depends on my mood. Half the time I’ll join you in running naked- no electronics, just clothes and shoes. The other half I get a bit fancy- watch and possibly iPod if I’m feeling unmotivated. Anything over 10 I might bring a handheld water bottle or gu. I never take a phone.

    Trail running is a different story. I have a whole bag to cover my packing for trail runs. On the run- water, snacks, salt, mini glide, compass, trail scarf, gaiters for gravel. In the car- an entire drugstore of products and extra clothes.

  3. Most of the time I run with nothing, but I do wear my Garmin if I need to run a specific mileage and haven’t mapped it out beforehand, or if I need to know my splits. I do have a Road ID, which I should probably wear, but I’m not entirely sure where it is right now. If I’m traveling and running somewhere unfamiliar, I take my phone – mostly so I’ll have GoogleMaps to consult if I get lost (not that I can really see it without my glasses thoughโ€ฆ.)

      1. They make one that attaches to your shoe, so you only have to think about it when changing shoes. You really should have some form of ID/identification on you.

  4. Runs up to 13 or so miles I just bring my watch, for the longer short runs I might sneak a gel into my pocket just in case. For really long runs I run with a camelback filled with snacks, phone, maybe some money hidden on my person, and my iPod shuffle in case I get bored. I hate it bringing all that stuff, but it’s necessary.

  5. I used to run with my phone to listen to podcasts, but lately I’ve felt like it distracts me and makes me frustrated. That’s not what it should be about!
    Short runs: watch, keys
    Long runs: watch, keys, water bottle, RoadID, Metrocard, a snack, maybe some $$
    I’ll wear a hat if it’s super sunny or if my hair looks like crap. :P

  6. I’m a minimalist. On most runs I just have keys and watch/garmin and individually packed wet wipes. (I’ve lost my faith in local portapotties being stocked with TP.) I occasionally bring my phone and listen to podcasts if I’m wearing shorts with a good pocket. I’ll bring gels if I’m running more than a couple hours.

    I see someone mentioned a hat & sunglasses above. My eyes are super sensitive to sunlight so I don’t go anywhere without sunglasses, ever! Hat is a quick & easy replacement for/supplement to sunscreen. But I consider these part of the regular wardrobe, not accessories.

  7. When running only (e.g. not going anywhere specific to meet friends or commuting), I take my garmin (fenix 2) and … nothing else! Some music if I want (with a lightweight player such as the sansa+) to but nothing else!

  8. I guess I’m one of those people who could be labeled as an overpacker, but I don’t think of myself as one.

    1) IPhone – ever since I encountered someone who exposed himself to me, I carry my phone so I can take photos as evidence and call 911.
    2) Headsweats Visor – to keep sun out of my eyes (sunglasses slide off) and to wick sweat off my face
    3) Simple Hydration bottle – I like drinking when I feel like it (for 15+ mile runs, I’ll run with a Camelpak) and it gives me the freedom to run anywhere I feel like, rather than sticking to routes with water fountains
    4) Flipbelt/Spibelt – to carry phone and keys (and gels if on a long run)
    5) Garmin – I like seeing mile splits and tracking

    Gels I only carry if I’m running more than 10 miles

    1. I take my phone when I run with the stroller both because it’s easy but also in case I encounter a perv or someone. I feel like if it’s just me, whatever, but if my kid’s involved that bastard is going DOWN!

  9. I wear roadID all the time (what if I tripped and fell walking down the sidewalk?), so it doesn’t feel “extra” and usually watch. Otherwise, like running “naked.”

  10. I “over pack” but I am slowly starting to reduce what I take with me as I gain some confidence. I think a lot of people starting out need the comfort of having stuff — you know, to appease the “what if” fear. If you aren’t as confident in your running (like me) you can go a little further or run a little longer if you feel you are prepared for it (by having extra fuel and water). I take my phone for music and for route tracking, as well as for security. I always wear ID. I wear both a hat and sunglasses because I have a sensitivity to the sun. I want to be someone who takes very little but I’m just not at the point where I feel secure enough to do so. Maybe one day…