Tips for a Great Runcation

How to prepare for your out-of-town race

Are you traveling for a race soon? Runcations, as we call them, can be super fun. But preparing for the big adventure can be stressful!

I’m going to share a few things that I’ve learned over my years of running and traveling for races that have helped me!

An example of “flat me” laid out before the Richmond Marathon. A hometown race, but I do this when packing my race day gear for trips, too, before placing it in my luggage!
  1. Lay out your run gear in “flat me” style while you’re packing. Just like you would prep at home or for your weekend long runs, doing this will help ensure that you aren’t leaving a critical piece of attire at home. I had a friend who forgot her sports bras one trip! Don’t let this be you!
  2. Have plan A, B, and even C outfits. You may think you know what the weather will do on race day, but you may be surprised. Packing different shorts/pants/shirts options will ensure that you are prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.
  3. Bring all of your nutrition and hydration needs with you. Even if your race has a big expo, don’t count on a vendor having your special gels or electrolyte products available for sale. 
  4. If you are expecting to rely on the course nutrition and hydration products, make sure you have practiced using these during your long runs. I made the mistake of drinking the Gatorade on the course of the Chicago Marathon, my second one ever, and paid the price! I had not trained with this, but assumed it would be fine. I was so very wrong! 
  5. If your race morning will be chilly, and you’re the type who normally wears something you can toss at the start, try this option instead: throw away clothes can be bulky, so trade your old sweatshirt or bathrobe for a mylar blanket. These will pack nicely into a small carry-on for plane travel and not take up precious cargo space in your bag. They are easily available in camping gear sections of big box stores.
  6. Pack a throwaway poncho. It may come in handy waiting for the race to start! Of course, runners are fantastic at stalking the weather apps for your races, but you don’t want to begin your race already wet.
  7. Nothing new on race day. This includes food! My meal the night before is usually in a national chain restaurant. Why? Because the recipes and food quality are generally consistent. Eat what your gut knows, and you will be better off on race day! Nothing is worse than an upset stomach with multiple porta-potty trips during your goal race! Save your trips to new, exotic restaurants for your post-race celebrations. One of my coaches used to tell us the story every year about how eating spicy Thai food for his pre-race dinner literally ruined his stomach for his goal marathon. 
  8. Take antacids with you. See above. Especially if you have a sensitive stomach or have special dietary needs. Plus, layering on a bit of travel anxiety with a meal that doesn’t settle well is sure to require intervention!
  9. If you are staying in a hotel, ask for a late checkout if needed, especially if traveling home on the day of your race. If you will be running a major race, area hotels may be more accommodating under the circumstances. In one of the Marine Corps Marathons I ran, the hotel couldn’t give us a late checkout, but would hold our bags and even allowed us to shower in their fitness center before traveling home. 
  10. Do not be tempted to do all of the touristy, walking things the day before the race. This was another mistake I made before running the Chicago marathon! I was exhausted before I even started the race. 
With friends after the Chicago Marathon in 2015. We are in front of the Bean!

Am I missing anything? 

As you train for your goal races and for travel, keep some of these tips in mind! And I hope you all have the racecations of your dreams!


My inspiration for this post is preparing for my own mini racecation! Do you have any tips for preparing for travel and running? I’d love to hear them!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

One thought on “Tips for a Great Runcation

  1. A black bin liner might not be the height of fashion but cut holes for your head and arms and they are windproof, rainproof, surprisingly warm and inexpensive to discard. To the eco warriors, I apologise for the plastic usage, but one worked a treat before a chilly London Marathon some years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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