The right gear will make race day a successful experience.

Race Day Gear: What You Need to Succeed

You’re nearing the end of your training cycle and race day is quickly approaching. “You know that you’re ready, but there are a few last minute things to check off your list,” says Brittany Garrett, manager of the footwear department at Sports Basement in the Presidio, who coaches collegiate cross country at San Francisco State University.

Lightweight, breathable, flexible clothing

Whether you run hot or cold, lightweight, breathable clothing that moves with you is going to be best option for racing. “If you tend to chafe, make sure you’re racing in something that will decrease friction in `hot spots’ such as inner thighs and under your arms,” says Garrett.

Lightweight shoes or racing flats

While you want your everyday trainers to offer the proper amount of stability, support, and cushion to prevent overuse injuries, racing shoes are designed to help you feel faster and lighter on your feet. “If you’re going for a personal best, lightweight shoes can help you get there,” says Garrett. Try new racing shoes on a few workouts before the race to get your body used to running fast in a less supportive shoe.

Race number belt

A belt specially designed to hold your race number can protect your singlet or hi-tech running shirt from snags.

Arm warmers and gloves

It’s a good idea to keep your appendages warm if the temperature dips below 50 degrees. “Warm hands make a huge difference,” says Garrett. You may also want to consider using arm warmers, which allow full range of motion in your arm swing and are easier to take off than a shirt if you get too warm.


The right fuel not only keeps you going through the finish, but can help prevent cramps and intestinal distress. If you’re walking or run-walking, an energy bar or banana (nature’s energy bar) can provide you with carbohydrates, electrolytes, and other nutrients. If you’re running, you may prefer gels for a quick fuel solution. (And they fit nicely into that seemingly random little pocket in your running shorts.)

There are a profusion of gels out there in dozens of flavors with varying levels of sugars, primarily glucose (often listed as maltodextrin), and fructose. Some gels also include electrolytes, caffeine, and other nutrients. Glucose is the simplest way to replenish glycogen energy stores to working muscles. Fructose can help speed the delivery of glucose, but too much fructose may cause some people intestinal discomfort. It’s a good idea to try different gels before race day to determine which one works best for you.

Always consume an energy product or food with eight ounces or so of water to help expedite delivery to working muscles.


Even though there are water stops along the way, many runners and walkers choose to carry water during a half marathon. You can choose to wear a hydration belt or backpack or use a “handheld” running bottle ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand. Hydration products usually have extra pockets for nutrition and personal items.

Sun protection

Even on a foggy day, UV rays can break through the clouds. Take care of your eyes and sensitive skin areas with sunglasses, a visor, and sunscreen. Many running brands also offer clothing with UV protection.

Sports Basement staff members Ian Ballentine and Brittany Garrett bring you expert information on the best gear available to train in comfort and style. Ian manages the, triathlon, swim, and run channels for Sports Basement. She swam for San Jose State University and currently competes in Ironman competitions and races for the Oakland Tri Club. Brittany, who holds a bachelor of science in kinesiology with an emphasis on exercise science, manages the footwear department at Sports Basement in the Presidio. She has been running competitively for 15 years and coaches collegiate cross country at San Francisco State University.