By Rebekah Mayer, RRCA & USATF Certified Coach

You’ve done the training and now the big day is almost here — your first race! Packing the right gear in advance will help to ease any race-day worries. Here are some items you should bring:


  • Body Glide or other skin lubricant to prevent blisters
  • Sunscreen
  • Armband or belt to carry your phone if you can’t part with it or want to have it along to take pictures immediately before, during or after the race
  • Running watch or GPS device
  • Bottled water
  • Pre-race healthy snack (if needed)
  • Toilet paper, in case portable toilets run out
  • Extra layers you can toss (for cool weather races)


For the race:

  • Running top, shorts or tights (weather appropriate)
  • Wicking socks
  • Running shoes
  • Race bib and safety pins (if packet pickup is in advance)
  • ID — written onto the back of your bib or product such as Road ID
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat or visor



  • Dry clothes and socks to change into post-race
  • Post-race snack and fluids
  • Jacket
  • Dry shoes or comfortable sandals


For races over 60-90 minutes, you may want to carry a sports drink or gel product. This is another item that is best tested in advance in order to minimize GI discomfort on race day. Most runners will not need carbohydrates during 5K or 10K races, but an energy source is more commonly used during races of 13.1 miles and longer. Check your race website to see if anything other than water will be provided at aid stations so you can test that product in advance. If it doesn’t sit well with you, check out options for carrying your favorite fuel. You’ll find handheld bottles, hydration belts and shorts with multiple pockets at your local run shop.

Use your training runs to test out your race-day gear for comfort and performance. As race-day approaches, check the race website to see if your race has a bag drop or if you should plan to leave your pre- and post-race items in your car. A little bit of planning will help you to focus on the fun on race-day. Enjoy your first race!

Rebekah Mayer is the National Training Manager for Life Time Run. Life Time members and non-members are invited to take part in Finish Line Training programs and Social Runs available at 60+ locations nationwide. Learn more about Finish Line Training and Social Runs at