When planning for a 5K or half marathon, a little preparation helps build confidence.

Getting Ready for Race Day

The Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon & 5K is just a few weeks away, and you’re probably in serious preparation mode at this point, squeezing in runs whenever you can. If you haven’t done a race before or haven’t participated in this one, you’re probably wondering (and maybe worrying a bit!) about what you’ll need. Here’s a rundown of my personal gear tips, both general and race-specific.

Keep It Simple

I don’t run in fancy or expensive clothing, but I do like it to be fitted. You don’t have to spend much on running clothing: I have a couple of pairs of shorts for the summer, pants for the winter, and I usually wear tees I’ve gotten from racing events. When it’s cold I wear a lightweight pullover and a light running hat which I’ll pull down over my ears if they’re chilly (I don’t like to wear ear muffs). On my hands I usually wear the glove inserts from my ski gloves, or just pull down my sleeves. Sports Basement is where I do all my shopping, because it’s a wonderful organization that supports our community. It’s a center for meetings, classes, group exercise starting points, and even emergency bathroom breaks. And the staff is very friendly.

Take Care of Your Feet

I do spend money on good shoes; that’s very important to me and my feet. If you’re a beginner runner or haven’t run in years, don’t dig up your old gym shoes or Converses. Go to a running specialty store and get your foot and running style evaluated so you can purchase shoes that are right for your feet. It’s a great investment! I also wear a good pair of snug running socks. It’s very irritating if they’re loose and you have to constantly pull them up during the run.

Get Race-Ready

Gearing up for the Half, I like to wear light clothing because I find that I get warm pretty quickly. I wear shorts and a short sleeved tee or tank top. If it’s cold or looks like rain, I’ll wear tight-fitting running pants and a light zip-up jacket over my shirt; light enough to take off and tie around my waste without it feeling heavy. I don’t suggest wearing a sweatshirt or sweatpants; they’re too bulky and may weigh you down. (You may not feel it the first couple miles, but by mile five or six, you’ll feel like chucking it!) I choose running shorts or pants that have a zipper for a phone and ID. You should always have your ID when you’re out running, and carrying a phone is a really good idea as well.

Choose Your Water Strategy

Personally, I don’t wear a water belt because I don’t like the bulkiness of a belt, and I stop at every water station. However, I’ve worn one at some races and the advantage to wearing a belt is that you have water available whenever you’re thirsty and you don’t have to stop at the stations with everyone else. It’s a personal preference, so do whatever is easiest for you.

Good luck, have fun, and see you out there!

Veteran marathon runner Jodi Thirtyacre works for Kaiser Permanente as the manager of the Department of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at the San Francisco Medical Center. Jodi began running when she was only nine and ran track in high school. She kept up her regimen in college and ran her first marathon at 21. Jodi is the captain of Kaiser Permanente's teams for the Half Marathon and 5K.