Race Day Packing Checklist

Have you ever gone to a race and gotten there a bit late? Do you feel anxious and nervous? Like you aren’t really ready to race? Yeah, me too. It’s a terrible feeling.

Race day checklists help calm your mind and let you run free
Marc racing with teammates in college

It’s a shame because it’s so easy to get rid of that feeling. This blog post is designed to help you!

When you get to that start line and you’re a little lost and out of sorts, don’t worry or panic.  There’s not much you can do at that point, except stay calm and rely on your experience.  The goal, however, is to do some pre-race planning so you’ll never feel out of place with shaky confidence again.  

If you’ve ever heard the quote “failing to plan equals planning to fail”… Yeah, this is kinda what they are talking about. Going into a race with a plan can lessen your stress and anxiety and help you perform better.

Use this race day checklist to plan for your next race and never be surprised by anything on race day ever again:

Marc racing with friends in a local 5k
Be prepared on race day with a running checklist


What am I going to eat?

Knowing what you’ll eat and drink 48 hours, 24 hours, and day of the race is important.  Don’t neglect planning for this.  When you are traveling for a race in a new city, locate places where you’ll enjoy the meal.  Have a plan in mind for when you’ll eat, what you’ll eat and where you can find snacks.

If you are racing close to home, prepare healthy, balanced meals that you know sit well with your stomach.  In either race situation – close to home or across the globe – bring snacks that you are familiar with.  You don’t want to have the first few miles of the race searching for a porta-john.


Where’s the best place to park? 

If it’s a big city race or has potential parking issues, you’d better have an idea of where to park before the race starts without you.

If you can, bring a non-racer with you as your chauffeur.  Have them drop you off and find parking while you get any last minute tasks done, including warming up. You’ll want to get to the race at least 90 minutes before the race is supposed to start so you can take care of everything you need to.

If you are familiar with the area, but can’t park close by, try warming up to the starting line.  I wouldn’t suggest this method if it’s your peak race as this can be a bit more stressful than a typical warm up.

If you find you can’t locate a parking spot, don’t panic.  Stay calm and think about how you can best resolve the issue.

Finishing my 5k for a win

Check the Course

What’s the course like? What’s the finish like?

Regardless of what race distance you’re running, you should do a bit of research prior to race day and find out what the course is like.  Are there hills or sharp turns?  You may not know this if you haven’t looked at the course prior to the race.  It’s not always easy, for example, to run a marathon course prior to race day, but you could run sections of it or you could jump on YouTube and do some internet scouting of the course.

Nowadays, most courses have online maps.  They are there for a reason!  Knowing when a hill is coming or a 180* turn around can ease your mind and help you prepare for the course.

At the very least, you should know what the last mile looks like.  At the end of a hard race, it’s very helpful to know when the finish line is coming.  You’ll be thankful you did when you’re tired and searching for the end.


What’s the weather going to be like? 

Pack for the worst-case scenarios.  You can always take clothes off if you have them, but if you don’t have anything to put on, you’re SOL.

List of items needed to be comfortable when racing
Packing list of items needed on race day

Be prepared for rain, snow, wind, sunshine, heat wave or ice storm.  You can never be too over-prepared, just underprepared.


What’s my pace?  What should my finishing time be?

Going into the race, you should know what you’re capable of and set a realistic goal based on the training you’ve done.  If you’ve run the course before, you’ll be able to compare your current fitness to your previous fitness and predict your finishing time.  If you’ve done everything the same, you should still be able to run faster because you’ve logged more cumulative miles than the previous year.

Back-Up Plan

Having a Plan B is very important as well.  You’ll want to make sure you account for and prepare for something to go wrong.  If your shoes come untied or you require an extra bathroom break, what are you going to do?  You’ll have already thought about it, planned for it and it won’t be a big deal.

Bottom line.  Just because you’re not a professional runner, doesn’t mean you can’t prepare like one.  Be sure to do your homework before you lace up for your next race.

You’ll want your GPS charged, your favorite race attire washed and ready, and a familiar meal prepped and ready to devour.  If you take care of the basic racing essentials, you won’t be caught on race day lost and without a clue.

Use this running checklist to be as prepared as possible when racing! #runcoach #TrainwithMarcTweet

Did you find this article helpful? Let me know by leaving a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Searching for a running coach? TrainwithMarc has flexible schedules, dynamic plans, and access to a coach who’s worked with every type of runner.

TrainwithMarc will design a training plan based on your needs, running history, and your goals.

Gear I Love

Garmin is my go-to brand of running watches

My Favorite RUNNING gear from Amazon ⬇️
Feetures socks: https://amzn.to/36gNRjU
Tifosi Sunglasses: https://amzn.to/349OuJx
Garmin 235: https://amzn.to/2YgXJ9M
Garmin heart rate monitor: https://amzn.to/2JUun8a

Coach Marc does strides after easy runs to prime his legs

Current Running Shoes ⬇️
Brooks Levitate: https://amzn.to/2GazmUh
Brooks Revel: https://amzn.to/3ndnwcO
Nike Pegasus: https://amzn.to/36htGlX

Marc uses a massage gun to loosen up his legs

Running Recovery Gear I use daily from Amazon ⬇️
Sonic X Percussion Massage Gun: https://amzn.to/2S87qTt
Foam Roller: https://amzn.to/2MzrAly
CEP Compression socks: https://amzn.to/30gZLGY

Marc running a popup 5k in Haddonfield

TrainwithMarc’s Social Media links ⬇️
Website: trainwithmarc.com
Instagram: @TrainwithMarc_LLC
Twitter: @marcpelerin
Facebook: @TrainWithMarc
TikTok: @Run_Coach_Marc
Venmo: @marcpelerin

Marc is a middle school Special Education teacher and the distance track and cross country coach who also works with distance runners seeking personal bests. He blogs at TrainwithMarc.com and writes a Friday newsletter. You can find everything Marc is working on here.

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Location Cherry Hill, NJ E-mail trainwithmarc@gmail.com Hours Weekdays: 3-10 pm; Weekends: 7 am-10 pm
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