When you’re just getting started as a runner, it can be simple – or overwhelming.  There are the clothing choices (what do you wear so you don’t overheat?) and the accessory issues (sunglasses or not?).  If you’re an endurance runner or walker, it’s more complex – (water or gatorade?  Gu or Clif Blocks?).  And what about weeknight runs?  If you’re only going out for 45 minutes, do you really need a belt with fluids?   It’s easy to over-think, and find yourself hauling around a bunch of stuff you don’t need – or, even worse – an excuse for keeping you from heading out the door in the first place. 

As a runner, I’ll admit – I’ve gone through phases.  There have been times where I didn’t leave the house without every piece of gear imaginable.  And then there were times when I just went – no ID, no cash, no worries. 

But the reality of city running, is that I do live alone (not revealing many secrets here), so I also have to take some additional precautions.  Six years ago, when I crashed into two men while riding my bike, I didn’t have an ICE contact programmed into my phone.  When I came to, I was lucid enough to call a friend to come and get me, but today, there’s a local ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact in my phone so that, if I get hurt, people can come and get me. (Well, in theory.  I guess I should warn them.)

I got to thinking about these safety tips this week, after my friend was struck while riding her bike.  She’s fine – but it forced me to remember some of the things I’d been skimping on when it came to my personal safety.  So, below, a “Do As I Say, And As I Do” recommended list – for all walkers and runners, regardless of where you live.   And below that, a Gear Check-List – for those who are beginning their summer training schedules.  Every little list helps, right?

For Every Run, You Must Have These:

1.  An identification of your name, and address – you can take your driver’s license, or get yourself a Runner’s ID tag and attach it to your shoes.   Not sure what I mean?  Hit your local running store and ask – you should be able to pick one up for under $5.00.  ( The Runner’s ID also has space for your emergency contact and medications.)

2. Enough cash or credit to get you home if something happens. 

3. **If you live or travel through an iffy neighborhood, your cellphone. Make sure the cell has a local ICE contact listed who can assist you or paramedics if something happens to you on a run.

The Weekend Running Bag Gear Checklist

If you’re about to begin training for a half marathon or marathon, and you have to “go” somewhere to meet each weekend, I’d recommend packing your bag the night before, and finding your shoes and clothes then, too.  It’s always easier when you’re not in a fog of sleep deprivation to locate the last place you left your iPod or your ID.

My running bag contains some staples (which I try to return there after every run) and items which change from week to week. 

Sallie’s Staples:

  • Running baseball cap
  • My Timex Ironman watch or heart rate monitor
  • Wide tooth comb (to clean out the tangles post-run)
  • Quarters (for the meters!)
  • Sunglasses
  • Fuel belt with water bottle
  • iPhone (used to be Nano + Phone)
  • License and $20 or Cash Card
  • Clif Shots or Jelly Belly Sport Beans (I just leave them in my bag so I never have to look for them later)

Post-Run Clothing (Spring/Summer)

  • Fresh tee shirt and fleece, if necessary
  • Addidas sandals, crocs, or other sandals

And really, folks, that’s it.  I don’t overthink it – I don’t overdo it.  I pack what I need (which still, takes up more space than it should) and I’m not overwhelmed by what’s in my bag. 

Not sure what kind of bag to take?  Grab one that opens wide – one where you can see everything inside.  I find that my oversized tote, given to me by my soccer players a few years ago, works perfectly because the bottom is cream colored, and I can see everything in the bag (unlike my friends with dark backpacks!)

And, what’s more, by keeping it in one place, as my friend Val taught me, I don’t waste time ever searching my house for where I might have left things.

So that’s it – the required – and the optional – gear for your summer walkin and running schedule.   Keep it simple – and you’ll be more likely to keep moving. 

See you on the path!

4 thoughts

  1. I walked a half marathon last year, this year my goal is to run it. Since I had a pockets last year, I was able to put all this stuff in there, phone, key, GU, etc. Have you found something to run with and still carry all this? Like a fanny pack? But it won’t weigh you down?


    1. Misty –

      I have used the same fanny pack/water bottle holder for about 9 years – I finally had to replace mine last year. It’s this one: http://www.rei.com/product/752154 but you can get it anywhere. I take my keys, iPhone, license, $20, and I can jam at least two gu in there if necessary. It looks like there’s a newer version out now that has an MP3 holder on the outside, but you’d have to see if it really works (it’s hard to slide in the iPhone with headphones because the zipper only goes in one direction, my headphones go another, etc.

      I would definitely get a pack that has an angled back – a water bottle that stands straight up in the back sucks. And if you’re running and training this summer, keeping hydration with you is key, so I always recommend the water (we had a woman who ran with us a few years back who did not hydrate and paid the price with issues).

      Fuel Belt also makes some good stuff, but frankly, I don’t like their setup – it’s a large elastic band, and it always rides up under my chest. The Ultimate Direction one is adjustable, and it doesn’t weigh a lot – without the water, of course 🙂


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