Friday, April 17, 2015

Trail running race check list

It seems every time I do a trail race there's something I forget. So I'm making a list:


  1. trail shoes
  2. light socks
  3. compression calf sleeves (I don't know if these do anything, but maybe)
  4. underwear compatible with running (some, err, rub the wrong way)
  5. running shorts: super-short won't work well but extra-long shorts waste energy: you've got to lift that material every foot stride. I like pockets for stuffing gel wrappers.
  6. Body Glide on nipples and other bits which may abrade.
  7. technical running shirt (these do tend to abrade somewhat, hence the previous.
  8. sun screen everywhere which might get exposed
  9. something to wear over running clothes before or after race
  10. running cap
  11. contact lenses
  12. belt for holding water bottle.
  13. optional pouch for belt: good for storing Clif Bloks, Endurolytes.
  14. Possible light gloves and compression forearm sleeves if it's cold
  15. Make sure laces are tied well. I generally leave my laces knotted and slide shoes on off, tied. I like them loose and have never had foot problems like this other than toe nails getting too long and cutting skin on the adjacent toe.

Note I don't wear sunglasses: too heavy. Also I prefer contact lenses to eye glasses. Contacts are lighter. I do like the cycling cap, however. That's an indulgence.

Other stuff:

  1. Check toe nails.
  2. TomTom GPS watch, batteries charged.
  3. cell phone, batteries charged (I don't run with this, but for before and after it's good to have).
  4. bring a few safety pins (better to reuse these)
  5. Endurolytes: best to start with a few to save time looking for them at rest stops.
  6. some coconut juice would be nice for post-race.
  7. bike lock & key, if riding bike to start.
  8. house keys
  9. money
  10. something to store extra stuff during race if car not available for this purpose
  11. extra water bottle for pre-start if water won't be available near start line

other preparation:

  1. study the course: key navigation points, and major altitude features.
  2. know the start time: it's important to get there at least 30 minutes earlier, but 60 minutes isn't too early.
  3. know how to get there: road navigation.
  4. Breakfast: black tea with maple syrup or honey (caffeinated or decaf depending on how much caffeine I've been consuming), plus maybe a banana with some nut butter. Keep it fairly light.


  1. First priority: check in.
  2. Next priority: pee. This saves weight and doing it during a race wastes time.
  3. figure out where to store clothes for race.
  4. start GPS, acquire signal.
  5. warm up a bit, but not too much: typically races are pushing my endurance limits and going out and running a few extra km before the start is going to do more harm than good. But if it's a short race I'll warm up more.
  6. Pee again if there's time.
  7. go to start line.

Rest stops: These are really key because being efficient here is easily worth one spot in the results.

  1. before the rest stop: decide what's wanted. Water? Sports drink? Coke? Fruit? Sports chews? Gels?
  2. Approaching rest stop: get bottle out of belt, take a drink if water's left, loosen cap a bit.
  3. Reaching the stop: kindly hand bottle to volunteer and ask for sports drink or water. Drink from paper cups filled with liquid of choice, if available. Take enduralytes or other electrolyte supplements if needed. Eat fruit slices at the stop, quickly, but sports gels or chews should be stuffed in pocket and eaten on the run.
  4. Pop a few Endurolytes: I forget to take these more often than not, but I really think they help, especially on hot days. If I have brought some with me I can just grab them from my pouch or pocket but otherwise I need to find where they are at the aid station table, which costs around 5 extra seconds.
  5. Save the caffeine for the last aid station stop. Coca Cola is a big boost but it's best reserved for the end game. Avoid caffeinated gels, etc, which are often not super clearly labeled.
  6. Thank volunteer for filling bottle and return it to belt.
  7. Any gel wrappers which need to be thrown away? I never remember to do this.
  8. Thank all volunteers and get out of there.

On the course:

  1. When passing other runners, make sure to not startle them. This is a run, not a bike race.
  2. When encountering hikers, be super-nice to them. They came out to enjoy the solitude of the trail, not to get passed by 100+ rampaging runners.
  3. When getting passed: can I stay with the passing runner? It's important to not dig too deep too early keeping an unsustainable pace. This isn't a bike race. But if it's end game things change.
  4. If I encounter a steep hill, can I walk it? If I can without losing speed, start walking immediately, but make every stride count.
  5. If I'm coming off a steep slope, start running at the first opportunity, even if it's just for a few strides.
  6. Drink when I'm thirsty, pop chews at appropriate intervals.

I don't think I've ever done everything on these lists but hopefully now that I've written this all out I'll avoid making these mistakes my next race, the Ohlone 50k.

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