Okay, the title of this could be construed as misleading. I’m not on about packing up and running away from home because the stresses of modern life are getting too much… No… Not that…. Not yet anyway!
I did that once when I was about 8 years old and went to my next door neighbors house with a toy briefcase containing: “1 sock, 1 Power Ranger toy, 1 pack of Raisins and a Kinder Egg“. Good to see I had my priorities sorted from an early age and from the laughter strewn across my parents face as they watched me get packed, I could tell they knew I meant business. Moving on.
What I DO mean is what THINGS I cannot travel without if going away from home to run. Certain little items and ideas that over the past few years have proven to be invaluable and in some cases I wish I’d found a lot sooner.
We’re passing through an age and time of aviation now where if we’re honest it’s cheaper to get overseas than it is to reach the other side of the country. Airlines are however all about luring you in with £1 flights then charging you £999 for luggage.
I have used a Cabin Max Backpack for the past 3 years when travelling hand luggage only. It’s a warrior. No longer do you need to worry about hand luggage being too large, Cabin Max is designed to fit like a glove in to the size restriction envelope. Plenty of room for clothing for at least 3 days and a running kit. Fret no more about the weight of your case taking up half of your luggage allowance, Cabin Max weighs less than a kilogram. The best thing though…. The best thing for me which separates this from all of its hard sided, heavy brothers and sisters? You can board the plane, put it by your feet and (provided you have no fine china) give it a good boot under the seat in front. No longer will you need to sit in Row 8 while your hand luggage is somewhere by Row 45 because you spent too long
getting drunk in Wetherspoons, eating breakfast and were last to board the plane. Even works at the other end upon landing. Touch down, undo seat belt, grab your backpack and skip merrily onward.
These cost a few pence each and are amazing for keeping all your little bits of paperwork together. On an average marathon weekend away from home I’ll have my flight details in here, hotel information, boarding passes, any show tickets, marathon expo details/number pick up paperwork, travel insurance and anything else needed really.
I’d recommend printing out an online route plan from the hotel to the start of the race and sticking it in here. Take it out, use it race morning and trash it. Finish line different to start location? Do exactly the same thing but keep it in your pocket for help after the race.
Most weekends I arrive with a full folder and it ends up empty. Anything else is put away to be recycled.
I have linked my favorites here but figure out during training with close proximity to a rest stop which work best for you.
Gels are a funny thing and can lead to an upset stomach. Something which you don’t need at mile 15 of the Berlin Marathon… meaning you have to go off course, in to a local Dessert Shop where nobody speaks a word of English and ask “Could I please use your Toilet, it really, REALLY is an emergency”.
Yeah, that’s the voice of experience. The voice and cautious tones of a person who tried new gels from the Expo on Marathon Day…. Seriously, take your own. Airline hand luggage allowances allow for liquid bottles under 100ml, so as long as you have your gels in a clear plastic bag you will be fine.
You know those ones you see everyone wearing at a wet Glastonbury? The throw away ones? They are (in my humble opinion) the BEST thing to wear when waiting to start a race.
Ponchos weigh a few grams, taking up very little room in your hand luggage and honestly take the chill off really well. If you’re not sure whether you need it or not, just carry it to the start area. If it’s a marathon like London where you’re waiting for a couple of hours, the weather could change quickly and the beautiful British skies may well open up on you.
Long and short of it: they take the chill off, they keep you dry, if you don’t need it you can sit on it to keep your bum clean.
Shorts Especially. I always have issues with new shorts. The seams are a bit too stiff and after a few miles they chaff like nobodies business.
Goes for any element of your kit though. Take two tee’s, two shorts and four socks… yeah yeah okay, two pairs. Just trying to see if you were still paying attention. Luckily though running kit tends to be very light.
Imagine the scenario. Race day morning, you wake up in the middle of a different country, put your shorts on and “RIP”…. Big tear down the backside…. to compound the issue you’ve lost one of your socks. What are you going to do? Borrow a towel from the bathroom to wear around your waist and hop around the course? Of course you’re not, you’ve bought spares. Shorts off, worn in spares on, sock off, new socks on. Happy days. Grab your room key, grab your poncho and take one last fleeting glance at the bed which you’ve left very early on a Sunday morning to run around for a few hours in the freezing rain…. We’re a strange lot.