Friday, May 4, 2012

The go bag

Standard stuff
for overnight horse show.
In my horse showing days, one always had to cart a ton of stuff around to each competition.  Usually in a collection of trunks.  Some of it would be stuff that you knew you'd be using (bridle, helmet, feed, supplements, water buckets), some stuff that you might need (rain sheet for horse, different types of spurs, duct tape), some stuff that you hopefully wouldn't need (first aid kit and medications for horse and rider).

And it was force of habit to keep this packed and ready to go.  When you got home on Sunday night, one of the last things you'd do would be to clean everything and put it back (or replace used stuff), so that you were ready to go again.

Running is a lot simpler in so many ways, including the fact that there's a LOT LESS stuff to worry about.  But the idea of a "go bag" - a portable collection of stuff that you will or might need -- still applies.

Here's what's in the backpack that I take with me to races, to check at the starting line and (hopefully) be reunited with at the finish. Obviously, the contents do get modified some depending on weather conditions, length of race, etc.  And I have to pare stuff down when the race requires that I use their bag rather than mine.
  • Miscellaneous
    • A magazine to read if I'm waiting around
    • Marker and pad of paper - surprisingly convenient
    • Business card -- in case my bag gets misplaced, there's some hope that my bag will get back to me
    • Cell phone -- I used to have a nice pricy smart phone that I would never leave in my bag (rule: never leave anything in your bag that would be really bad to lose).  But now I have a crappy phone that I'm looking to replace.  So sure, I'll leave it in my bag.
  • Pre-race stuff
  • Seems silly to carry, until you need it. 
    Then everyone's your best friend
    • "Disposable clothing" to wear and then toss; I'll usually have both a long sleeve t-shirt and a sweatshirt, so I can pick the one most appropriate for the conditions.  I'll also have a pair of old crew socks to use as mittens until race start, if need be.  Also a large plastic trash bag, in case it rains.
    • Toilet paper - invaluable if the portapotties are out.
    • Pepto-Bismol - if you want this pre-race, you'll REALLY regret not having it
    • Bodyglide and vaseline - 'nuff said
    •  Extra safety pins - surprising how handy these are.
  • Race stuff
    • Sunglasses
    • Running hat with brim (in case of rain)
    • Disposable handwarmers -- I have a fairly bad case of Raynauds, so these are essential anytime race temps are below 60.  I use "Little Hotties."
    • Headband/earwarmers
    • You can get for a good price
      at Road Runner Sports
    • Gloves
    • Gels (I usually bring more than I'll need)
    • Asthma inhaler
    • Extra Garmin -- yes, I have an old Garmin I don't use any more, since I upgraded.  So I keep it in my bag, as a back-up.
    • Disposable hand-held water bottle (for longer races).  Run with it for the first 5 miles, then toss when empty.
  • Post-race stuff
    • Change of clothing - usually a top with my team's logo as well as a pair of sweatpants/tights.
    • Laundry bag for my race clothes.  I usually use one of the bags provided by the Rock N Roll races for bag check - they're the right size, and the fabric they're made of seems both to fight odor and to let clothes breath.
    • Really invaluable for post race chill.
    • Shoes and socks - don't underestimate the luxury of swapping into dry socks and shoes.
    • Clean-up and first aid:  My "kit" includes
      • Anti-bacterial wipes, bandaids, and Neosporin for blisters
      • Naproxen, arnica gel, KT Tape, plus spare Patt Strap and heel lift, in case I develop any injuries
      • Cold pack in case I strain something (also keeps my eggs cold).
    • Post-race nutrition.  My stomach's pretty iffy, so I usually can't rely on the race to provide stuff I can eat.  And, I'm a huge believer in having your post workout nutrition within that 20 minute window -- if you wait to eat at home an hour later, you've missed a valuable opportunity. So I bring my own.
      • Bottle of coconut water
      • Recovery drink (for me, 32 oz of water combined with one scoop of Ultima and one scoop of Heed)
      • Two hard boiled eggs, kept in a insulated bag that also holds a cold pack -- both to keep the eggs cold and in case I need to ice something.
      • Salt shaker -- I'm a VERY salty sweater, so this ain't optional.
      • Shot Bloks and Sport Beans.  I like Margarita Shot Bloks and Fruit Punch Sport Beans.
I will note that there are a few things that I always keep on my person when I race. They are my house keys/car keys and about $20 in cash.  The idea is that if my bag does disappear, I'm still able to get home.


  1. Yup, I definitely want to be around you post race in case something comes up! I am the opposite and usually don't check a bag at all. Kick some butt this weekend!

  2. I will be printing this for future races, as well as asking you to help me prepare for the zombie apocalypse.

  3. You always have fantastic advice in your posts and it's so well written/organized. Great list - thanks for sharing.

  4. Don't try to pretend that you have an orange hand-held. I know yours is pink. ;) Just teasing you! Have a great race this weekend, Cris! I can't wait to hear how you do.

  5. This is quite the list! I liked to think I was prepared heading to races, now I know I am nowhere close! I should take this advice or make sure that I only sign up for the same races as you. :)

    I have to laugh about the cell phone. I've started checking mine only because I probably should replace it and someone taking it would be the motivation I need to finally do it!