Trail runners: What’s in your luggage?

How many times have you gotten to your trail running destination on either a short domestic hop, or a long-haul overseas flight and realized you didn’t have an essential item packed away in your luggage? Having just returned from an overseas trail running adventure in Australia, I thought it timely to provide some packing and traveling tips primarily for a long journey, but most apply to shorter trips as well.

How to Pack
Before you consider what to pack, consider how to pack. The most helpful packing aid is a packing cube. Sort your items in clothing items in piles and place like items together in their own comfy cube. A plastic gallon (or larger) zipper bag can substitute and then double as a laundry bag, but not quite as effective as a cube.

Roll don’t fold your clothing. This allows for more space and also provides ease of viewing what items you have. Luggage should consist of carry on ONLY. Do not check a bag. What does this mean? Pack less and wash clothes in a sink with shampoo, or soap, and hang to dry. Take one roller bag sized to fit in the overhead storage compartment, along with a backpack or smaller bag for essentials such as your phone, passport (and keep a photo of your passport on your phone), credit card, cash, a pen, vitamins, ibuprofen, lacrosse ball (for self massage), eye drops, tissues, toothbrush, reading glasses, computer, snacks, and an empty water bottle. Include a spike bag in your luggage as this is a handy smaller bag to use on a day trip, and can also double as a laundry bag. If you take a travel pillow, attach it to your carry on luggage handle and use it during the flight. Any liquids or lotions must be in the smaller-sample sized variety.

US Mountain Running Team members arrive in Premana, Italy.

What to pack
Essential trail running items may include a watch (and its charger), shoes (two pairs), hydration system, sunglasses, hat, gloves, socks, undergarments, singlet, wicking T-shirts – long sleeved and short sleeved, wind jacket, wind pants, shorts, and tights. If you bring gels and energy drinks, be sure to pack them in a plastic bag. Add some casual clothing pieces. Items easily washed and dried are best bets.

How to be comfortable on a long flight
Drink plenty of fluids – water is key. Book a bulkhead seat, or exit row for extra room, but make sure your seat reclines. Try to sit a bit further away from a bathroom as this is the highest trafficked spot on the plane. Wear sweats, or loose-fitting tops with compression socks or tights on your legs. Wear open-heeled shoes. These are easier to slip on and off when you get up and walk around the aircraft. Get up often on long flights to keep your limbs moving and blood circulating. In between connections, sit near a window to expose yourself to light. Sleep when you can. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Bring a crossword puzzle, or magazine to keep you occupied during the flight.

Get comfortable, wear compression socks on long flights.

What to do once you arrive
Take off your shoes and connect with the earth. Go for a short walk. After a long flight, the first run usually feels awful. Legs are tired, digestion is amiss, and your body may feel cramped. Flying is stressful. Think of it as a long workout and take time to rest and get your land legs back. Every hour in time change translates to a full day of recovery.

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