Don’t Taint Your Run! A Marathon Packing Checklist

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Pro tip: For better results, bring a matching pair. Failing that, bring one for the left foot and one for the right.

So you’re not only doing something as foolish as running 26.2 miles on your day off, you’re going out of town to do it. Since your already-addled brain has probably been made worse by a combination of Taper Crazies, race anxiety and stress over that one stupid thing at work, I thought I’d help you with this packing list for your out-of-town marathon.

Shoes. Don’t forget them. You need them to run. You’d be surprised how many people forget their shoes.

20 Band-aids. If you’re a guy, you’ll need these for your nipples. You only have two nipples. But you’ve got that image seared into your brain, the one of that guy crossing the finish line in a formerly white shirt that now looks like some nightmare stigmata. Or the guy in a yellow shirt that now looks like a murderous smiley face. Maybe you were that guy. Either way, you feel compelled to bring 20 Band-aids. Just in case. You’ll forget them on the day of the race and find them crumpled up at the bottom of your bag next year. But don’t worry about that. You’ve got enough to worry about.

GPS Watch. Let’s be honest. This is more important than your shoes. You’d actually consider running the race without your shoes. But you won’t even go on a training run without your watch. If a run isn’t captured by your Garmin, did you even run? No. You’re not even sure you can run without it. Hell, you will run outside in an icy lightning storm (shut up, it’s a thing) rather than a treadmill because the watch doesn’t work indoors. Besides, if you try to run without your watch, you’re going to spend 26.2 miles glancing at your wrist anyway and then you’d just look like an idiot.

Toilet paper. This one is for the women. And it’s not just for the porta-potties on race morning. No. It’s because despite the fact you’re staying in a hotel, which likely has 3,547 rolls of toilet paper on hand, there are only two rolls in the room at any one time and this makes you so nervous — you know what, you can’t even with this.

Shoes. Wait. Where did they go? Oh my god. Did you leave them at work? Can you even get into the office? Crap. This is just what you need right….Oh. There they are. Phew.

Earphones. God forbid you spend a few hours aware of your surroundings taking in this unique experience, listening to your heart, your breathing and the sounds of the crowd. No go on. We all know you can’t run half a step without Imagine Dragons or Katy Perry. The last thing you want while running a marathon is having a stray, unfiltered thought entering your head.

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Lube. A few people snicker at this, but let them. At least you’re using lube for something. And at your age, that’s nothing to sneeze at. Also, nothing taints a post-marathon shower like a chafed taint.

Gu/Shot Blocks/Packs of Syrup from IHOP. You’re not going to finish the race without a little boost here and there. This means you need a combination of nutrients designed especially for endurance athletes. It’s literally just sugar and caffeine but you know it’s for runners because it’s the consistency of snot and comes in flavors like Chocolate Monkey Ass and Mango Mud Pie. Even though you’ll only use five or six, be sure to pack 15. This increases your chances of one popping in your bag and coating your clothes with a substance scientifically engineered to attract all of the ants in a 100-mile radius.

Shoes. Check again. Where are your shoes? Don’t save them for last! Are you nuts? That’s how you forget your shoes!

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Your little running outfit. Don’t pretend you haven’t been thinking about this for a month or two now. You’ve got a special pair of shorts and a particular singlet all picked out. Some compression sleeves. The hat from that triathlon you did. Sunglasses. Set your entire outfit out on the bed before packing and ask yourself this: How many primary colors can a non-clown adult wear at one time?

Utility belt. Runners and Batman use utility belts. It is definitely not a spandex fanny pack. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Clean underwear. Well, duh! But you’re stressing out so much over what to wear on race day, you might forget that you need clothes to wear AFTER the race. Or, you know, after running 26.2 miles and making your way back to the hotel room, you could discover that you have nothing clean to wear, so you ask your spouse who’s already cranky that he or she had to go to three entirely different locations to cheer you on (which is TOTALLY the same as running 26.2 miles) — all the while dealing with your kids (they’re yours all of a sudden), who think grown-ass people running for five hours is about the stupidest, most boring thing in the world — you could ask THAT person to run out on a Sunday in a strange town, where half the streets are shut down to buy you fresh clothes. Even if that person agrees to do it a) you’re going to be stuck with the kids, something your brain can’t even remotely handle at the moment, b) those kids are going to whine about being hungry, which will prompt you to scream at them “YOU THINK YOU’RE HUNGRY RIGHT NOW?” (but you’re not going to do the sane thing and just order room service because screw those prices; you’ll all suffer rather than pay for room service) and c) you’re going to end up wearing the latest fashions from Walgreens, which might very well end up being a sassy t-shirt and the pants from a Halloween costume.

Shoes. You saw them just two minutes ago. Where could they have gone? Braden! So help me god, if you’re pranking me for one of your YouTube videos I am going to bust your head till the white meat shows! Oh. Never mind, baby. They’re already in the bag. Sorry. Love you!

You totally forgot your socks, didn’t you? (Which is fine. Because they sell all of this at the expo anyway.)

P.S. I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend with Team in Training. With or without shoes. If you’d like to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma society, please do so!

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