Having extra running gear on hand is a good idea for everyone, whether you have a hectic schedule or simply like to go with the flow. While it’s ideal to have a plan for when you’ll run each day, if that isn’t possible — or you find yourself with extra time to spare — you can get in a run whenever an unexpected moment arises.
“For the most part it makes sense to plan out when and where you’ll run,” advises Ryan Ghelfi, head coach at Trails and Tarmac. “Life is busy and if you don’t carve out that time there is a good chance you might miss your run that day. But, I also think that you should never go anywhere without a set of running gear, whether that is at work, home or on vacation. You always want to be ready to strike when opportunity presents itself.”
If you are currently reaching for a spare gym bag to pack, we have created a list of must-haves you don’t want to forget to stash in your car or at the office. A little planning goes a long way and sometimes, some of the most obvious things are the easiest to forget.
GEAR TO STASH AWAY
This may seem obvious, but it is actually important to have two pairs of shoes on hand: running shoes and recovery shoes to wear post-run. It is always a good idea to have a spare pair of running shoes around in case a work meeting ends early and you have time for a lunchtime run, for example. If you can’t leave shoes at your office, and plan to leave them in your car, Jonathan Mott, owner and coach at RunnersFix Coaching, advises making sure it is a pair that only has a little bit of life in them due to the extreme temperatures in cars.
“The foam in a pair of shoes does not like the heat; this dries up the midsole and makes it hard, which reduces the durability and cushioning,” Mott notes. “What I would do is keep a pair of shoes in your car that have little life left in them. Consider them your spare shoes just in case you accidentally forget your good shoes. Doing one run in them shouldn’t be an issue if you’re healthy.”
You’ll also want to think about what shoes you’ll wear after your run, and if you are at work or on-the-go, you want to be prepared with something cushioned or specifically created for recovery, such as recovery sandals.
“If neither of these are possible options then consider getting an insert for your work shoes,” adds Mott. “You want to do whatever you can to take care of your feet after a run, and if you’re going to be on your feet all day, you want to prevent injuring yourself.”
This is a must-have on Ghelfi’s list, especially in winter to accompany a pair of tights. The type of jacket depends on where you live and the time of year, but it is all about being prepared. If you live somewhere prone to rain, keeping a rain jacket that’s compact and easy to carry will keep you from getting soaked. If it is winter and you are in a particularly cold climate, having an extra layer couldn’t hurt. Of course it is best if the jacket is made for running so the material is still breathable and sweat-wicking.
While you could run in any socks, having a pair specifically created for runner’s is always best. Running socks often offer some sort of compression and are made with sweat-wicking material to help reduce any rubbing between damp socks and dry feet that can cause blisters. Keeping some extra socks stashed at work or in a bag in the trunk of your car can help if you are unexpectedly going for a run or need a refresh before heading back to work.
“I’d say socks are one of the most forgotten items by runners,” shares Mott. “It’s always best to plan ahead. Plus, I hate the feeling of wet socks, so if needed I’ll change socks after a run.”
Ghelfi has found his runners often get upset when they can’t track their runs to share and review later, so making sure you have your tracker of choice connected to an app like MapMyRun is a good idea. This is especially true if you plan to run on vacation and want to look up routes in your area or if you frequently forget your phone. Don’t like carrying anything on you when you run? Just get a pair of smart shoes that will automatically track your runs and sync it later.
A foam roller is one of the most common massage tools, however, tennis or lacrosse balls can go a long way, as well. If you are low on space or need to hop in the car to get back to work or head straight home after a run, go with the latter.
“Just put the ball under your hamstrings or glutes and let it sit there,” shares Mott. “You can shift it to different spots once you get to a stop light.”
Keeping a snack bar in your bag or at your desk is a great way to make sure you can easily access the fuel you need if you go on an unexpected run. If you went for a run in the morning and headed straight to work, it provides a solid breakfast. “You want to get in 200 or so calories, with a good portion of it coming from protein, within 30 minutes of your run ending,” advises Ghelfi.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It can be argued that you can go for a run without many of these things, but having them with you can give you the freedom to run virtually any time, any where. Whether you are traveling or looking to get some movement in after a long conference call, having some spare running gear with you can help increase the chance you will get out for a run. Whatever makes getting out the door easiest for you is key, so experiment with what gear you need.
“At the end of the day, you don’t want to let gear or lack thereof be any sort of an excuse not to run,” concludes Ghelfi. “Running is about freedom, passion and working toward big goals. The gear we use is merely a tool to facilitate the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish.”