Essentials for your first running race

By Jenny Nakamura

In the last few weeks we’ve talked about what you should eat pre & post run, 3 things that you avoid and today we are going to talk about a some essentials for your first race.

First off, it’s very important to read the pre-race email that should come in the week before the race.  This email will give you all the details about where to pick up your race bib & what to expect on race day.


Depending on the race, you may have to pick up your race bib and swag in the day or two before the race.  It is normally explained when you sign up and again in the prerace email if there is race day pick-up or not.  Every race is different so make sure to read the fine print in case you are traveling to the event.

Description: Untitled:private:var:folders:mc:474r_90s59j7srphnvjymrx00000gn:T:TemporaryItems:IMG_2697.JPGWhen you pick up your bib, there will be a Timing Chip on it.  Depending on the race, the chip will either be on the back of the bib or in the case of Rock n’ Roll (www.runrocknroll.com) races, you will need to attach it on your shoe.  I volunteered at Rock n’ Roll Arizona a few years back and as someone who has run races for a few years, I forgot that new runners aren’t familiar with this, and saw a lot of people with their timing chips still on their bibs.  They should tell you at the expo how the timing chip works, but if you aren’t sure, ask.


One of the most important details in that email and on the website is regarding parking and road closures.  After all the training, you don’t want to miss the race because you are stuck in traffic, miss a shuttle or can’t park in time to make it to the start.  This is especially important for races that are very large.

Once I’ve gotten all the logistics figured out, I like to get my gear out the night before to make sure I don’t forget anything and so I’m not rushed in the early morning.  For me that means doing a Flat Jenny photo, which I typically post on Instagram.

Outside of the basics, i.e. clothes, socks, shoes what else do you need?

One thing that new runners forget is to use something to protect them from chafing.  If you have had any issues with this, it’s best to use something like Body Glide, 2 Toms or Vaseline to prevent it.  Some of the more common areas for chafing are between the legs and for women around the sports bra.  I don’t suffer from this so I’m not an expert by any means.

For guys, my husband, highly recommends using a small band aid on your nipples to prevent chafing there.  Every so often I’ll be at a race and see a guy with red marks down the front of his shirt for this very reason.

On course, there will be aid stations with water and electrolytes.  Every race uses a different type of electrolyte and it should be listed on the website &/or the pre-race email.  If you use something different or are very picky, I would recommend bringing a handheld of your own to drink.


If you are running a half marathon or marathon, you will want to have some additional calories to consume while you are out there.  I like to bring a few packs of GLUKOS Energy Gels or Gummies to consume while I’m out there.

If you have a running watch or activity counter that you want to use, make sure to charge it the night before along with your phone if you use an app for tracking. 


Lastly, and this is a personal thing that I like to do, I prepare my gear bag.  For me, that means a change of clothes so I don’t have to walk around after the race in my sweaty clothes, this is especially important for me in very humid climates because I sweat a lot. I also like to bring a jacket if it’s a little cooler so that I don’t freeze after the race.

There are so many things that you can do to prepare for your race.   I’ll leave you with a little insight to what I do. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate in the week before, eat a pizza or pasta dinner the night before and I always lay out my gear out so I don’t forget anything.  Now the only thing left to do is to try to get a good night sleep and go run!