Racing locally has its stresses but they are less than the stress that comes from traveling to a race. Whether you are flying or driving you will inevitably remember the one thing you left on your counter. Without a doubt, that will be a necessity. Without that one thing, your race is ruined. That doesn’t have to be the case. You can get to your destination race with less stress just by using these ultra running racecation tips.
When I travel to races I always start out as a ball of nerves. As I chip away at my list and review what I need and don’t need, my anxiety lowers. On the day of travel my biggest concern is if the plane will depart on time. This is because I am sure of what I have packed. Has there been a time where I have still forgotten something? Absolutely. The saving grace is that whatever I have forgotten will be easy to pick up.
Traveling for an ultra running racecation doesn’t have to be stressful. Let’s ease that anxiety with these 5 essential tips.
Ultra Running Racecation Tips
Tip 1: Use A Race Checklist
Whether I’m racing an ultra or an Ironman, I write out everything I need for that event. I start at the bottom (my feet) and work my way up to the top (my head.) I write down everything I will need. As I begin to gather these items to pack, I cross them off the list. Nothing gets crossed off unless it is in the packing/staging area.
We have a race checklist on our site that has helped as I don’t have to write everything down. I print this out and will circle everything I need going through that same pattern of bottom to top. Once I have that item in the packing area it gets crossed off.
Before I pack items into my luggage, I review the list. As I put it away, I place a second line through the item. This tells me that I’ve not only gotten the item from storage but it’s now in my travel bag.
Tip 2: Use A Separate Checklist For Non-Race Items
This may seem obvious, but you’re not going to spend 100% of your time in running clothes. You will need to pack clothing for the trip as well.
I look at the weather in the area and make sure that I’ve packed the right clothing for the weather. If I’m headed to a colder climate, then pack a hoodie or a jacket. If you’re headed to a warmer weather climate, be sure to have shorts and t-shirts.
You don’t want to be uncomfortable during those hours that you aren’t racing. It doesn’t matter if it’s before or after the event. Staying comfortable is key. Making sure you have the right clothing will help ensure you are comfortable. Don’t forget those joggers for that post race walk from the finish line to the car.
Tip 3: Book Your Travel In Advance
Traveling, especially with today’s cancellations/delays, can be very stressful. With that in-mind I recommend securing your travel plans as early as possible. Purchase plan tickets, make hotel/short-term rental and rental car reservations as soon as you can.
Tip 3-A, map out the drive from the airport to your lodging and from your lodging to the race site. Staying as close to the race site as possible is high on my list of must-haves. This isn’t always possible as some ultras take place in remote areas. Reduce the amount of travel to and from the race site as well as to and from the airport. This is a key for me to feel less stressed. If I’m choosing between the two, then I go with closest to race site.
Tip 4: Find Where You’ll Be Dining And Food Shopping
The majority of us have our must-haves when it comes to nutrition. We cannot live without a bag of salt and vinegar chips or almond butter. Some us have allergies to contend with and that can make traveling to a new destination stressful.
I recommend looking for grocery stores and restaurants in the area of your lodging. Select these places out early. You want to travel to your destination knowing that you’ll be able to get your favorite chips or coffee. You’ll want to know the restaurants that will have a dish that caters to your dietary needs. With that note, I also recommend reviewing their menu or calling them to ask about their dishes. Take no chances because suffering from a GI issue during race day is not fun.
If needed, ship the items not easily found to where you’re staying or to the local running store. Speaking of the local running store….
Tip 5: Search For Running Specialty Stores In The Area
Despite filling out your race checklist, there will be something missing that you’ll want to have on race day. I recommend finding out where the local running specialty store is located. This may also be where packet pick-up is being conducted and that kills two birds with one stone.
Knowing where the running specially store is will remove anxiety. Replacing gels that exploded or a headlamp left on the counter will be easier knowing where to go.
I’ve been in these scenarios, more than once, and I know how stressful they can be. Pre-planning is the key to alleviating that stress as much as you can. BUT, know this, you’ll still forget something but don’t panic. Ask your pacers/crew if they have the item, think about whether not you truly need it or is it just a nice to have. If it is a nice to have, forget it and prepare yourself mentally for the race. Don’t waste valuable time worrying about something that isn’t a necessity. Use these ultra running racecation tips and help alleviate your stress.