What to Pack When Running Outside

Packing Essentials for Running Outside

Preparing for a run, a workout or a race is supposed to be the easy part of running. Well, it can be if you have a list of everything you’ll need in order to have a good run! It would be such a shame and so annoying to go off to a race and forget to have a charged GPS watch!

What to pack and what to do when running outside
Pre and post-run checklist

Importance of a Checklist

I’ve recently been working with a runner who is becoming increasingly forgetful when it comes to preparing for a run. We talked, while running of course, and created a checklist that he (and you) can follow for when he’s preparing to go for a run.

In our conversation, we talked about why it’s important to prepare the night before so that he knows roughly when, where, and with whom he’ll be running with. As the saying goes, if you don’t have a plan, you’re likely to not get “it” done.

So not only is it important to plan to run, but also what you might need before, during and after your run. Here’s a good list of what you might want and need to have a really fun and enjoyable run.

Not only is this a good list to prepare you for a race, but honestly, if you’re forgetful, this is a great starting point for you to prepare for any run or race you plan on doing.

History of Packing Heavy

As a high school runner, my coach Steve Shaklee, always had us over-prepared. We knew what the weather would be like and he gave each of us HUGE team duffle bags. I know I carried everything in my bag – from CDs to extra socks, gloves, and a wooly hat. Since those days, I’ve always been really good at knowing what I need and having more than I could ever need. “It’s easier to have it and not wear it than to not have it at all!”

Below, I’ll outline the specific things I would bring with me for a run – some of them are for before the run (like running shoes or a running watch) and others are for things I can do after my run to make sure I’m as recovered as possible so I can work out again with as little soreness as possible.

Pre-Run Checklist

This list is designed for anyone who doesn’t always have everything they need when they go out for a run. Whether you leave from your front door or you meet out somewhere, this list is designed to have you prepared for your run. If you follow this checklist, there’s a good chance you’ll have everything you need to have a successful and enjoyable run.


Always good to have water to sip on before you run.

Stretch (Active Stretching Drills)

Active stretching will get you loose and prepared to run. It acts as a really good warm up.

Warm up Exercises (Glutes/Ankles etc)

After you’ve done your drills, it’s really good to activate your glutes. I just wrote about glute activation here.

7 Items to Pack & 6 Things You Should Do Post-Run
13 Steps to Having a Really Good Run

Have running shorts/running shirt

A run is a bit more difficult if you don’t have the right clothes. Not only should you have what you need (running socks, shorts and sports bra [ladies]!) but making sure they are moisture wicking).

Race Day Clothes
Setting up your clothes ensures you have everything

Have your running shoes

Again, it’s really hard to have a good run when you don’t have your running shoes. If you have to, put a backup pair where you’ll be (your locker, car or work). Being in the right shoe for you is a must to stay injury free.

Running Watch

Could you run without a watch? Of course. Is it good to run without a watch sometimes? Yep. But overall, a watch is a good thing to have on a run.

KT Tape*

Hopefully, you rarely need to use KT Tape (or its equivalent) for something that’s bothering you, but if it is bothering you, you’ll definitely want to have it available to use.

Post-Run Checklist

You finish your run and all you want is a dry shirt to put on and a bite of food to nosh on… but wait, you didn’t bring anything. Bummer. Here’s a post-run checklist to follow to help you recover quickly and get on with your day.

Cool down (run or walk)

A simple cooldown jog (or walk even) following a run will help slow down your heart rate, your breathing rate and bring your core body temps down. It doesn’t have to be much or even elaborate, but it definitely will help your body adjust to the finish of a run.


Great for feeling fast, opening up your running stride and giving you a dose of speed. Here’s a great video supporting striders after your run.

Static stretching routine

After your run or workout is a great time to do static stretching. Here are 16 static stretches you can try in your post-run routine.


Fluid intake after a run is important. Here’s where I would add a recovery drink to the plan. The Pelerin family uses Nuun hydration, but find that works for you.


Right after you finish a run you have around 30 minutes to get fuel back into your system to start replenishing what you just took out. That window is even more critical when the workout is hard. Runners Connect suggests “The best nutrients to consume during the 30-minute window immediately following prolonged exercise is a mix of carbohydrates and protein.” So bring something that you enjoy and also fits into the carbs and protein categories.


Whether it’s a foam roller or a rolling stick, it’s really good to self-massage and roll out after a run. A few minutes of rolling can save you from cramps, stiffness and help speed up recovery.

Strength & Recovery Options
Use strength days to increase your ability to recover from hard days


Having a checklist to get you on the right path is really important. Not only does it relax you knowing you have everything you need on race day, it also gets you into a routine of having what you need when you need it.

The 13 things you have/should do to have a good run
Pre & Post-Run Checklist

You may not need all 13 items on the checklist for every run. Some runs, you may only need 4-5 depending on where and when you run. The key is having a plan of action and then being able to deviate from that plan.

You wouldn’t want to get to the most important race of your year and not have everything you need – like your running shoes – on marathon Monday, would you? The time it takes to prepare, organize, and pack a bag with your running needs is well worth the energy.



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Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach
Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach

I am a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners.  Click for more information!

7 thoughts on “What to Pack When Running Outside

  1. I also use a packing list whenever I travel. It’s a simple thing but it helps me so much when I’m packing to ensure I don’t forget anything or overpack!


  2. Oh absolutely! I’m the packer in the house, so a list is a must!


  3. This is a great list. I tend to overpack for runs, too. Especially in the winter!


  4. I usually lay out my gear the night before…for training runs, and especially for races. I also keep a bag packed and ready with all the “extras” like first-aid items, recovery sandals, lotion, baby wipes, and sports cream.

    Liked by 1 person

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