A race day gear checklist & its benefits for runners

No matter how expert you may be, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes
— Steven Levitt

I’m a huge fan of process.

Good quality processes ensure that you’re doing the little things that matter. The things that when done consistently well, will lead to your desired outcome.

When it comes to packing for race day, there is one simple process that shines above all others in ensuring you don’t leave any of your important gear at home when you need it most.

The process? Working to a checklist.

Checklists provide a myriad of benefits to runners.

Checklists help to reduce anxiety and build confidence.
Anxiety has a physiological effect on the body. It increases heart rate, inhibits fat burning, increases cortisol levels and a whole host of other things. By working from a checklist, you help to keep your anxiety in check, knowing that you’re not going to leave anything behind that will negatively impact your race and all the hard work you have put in over the previous weeks or months. This control, builds confidence that you can carry through to other areas of your preparation and race day.

Checklists help to save mental and emotional energy.
This is one of the main reasons why having a process mindset is of such value. When you focus on the many small processes necessary for success (in this case, your checklist), you release yourself from wasting unnecessary mental and emotional energy having to remember the stupid simple stuff because there’s a checklist (or process) for that. This frees up your brain to concentrate on more important things.

Checklists save you time.
When you work to a checklist, you have a repeatable process that you can refer to leading into each race. You no longer need to consciously think and worry about what gear you need and this saves you time. You can simply and quickly run through your list, checking off your gear as it goes into your bag.

Checklists can form part of your pre race ritual.
A ritual is a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone. Rituals come with a number of benefits but the one I like most for athletes is the ability to call back states or emotions on command.

By going through your checklist the day before race day, you initiate “race mode” which helps to trigger the optimal mental and emotional state needed to perform well in your race.

Design a checklist that suits your needs.

With the benefits of using a checklist now hopefully clear, it’s time to put yours together.

To get you started, I have put together a checklist with most essential items that you need before you go, while you run and after your run. I have also left a few spots available in each section for you to add your own additional gear.

Download it now, print it out and mark off each item as you go.