This Run Lift Mom Podcast Episode is a quick tip episode about packing for an ultramarathon with a focus on what to wear. Enjoy!
Ultra packing list
We’re gonna go from your head to your toes here in terms of what you need:
On your Head
This will be weather dependent, but in cool or cold temperatures, layering is best. That may mean layering two or even three separate 4″ bondi bands under a single fleece hat versus the heaviest hat you can find.
This way, you protect your ears but as you start to warm up, you can slip off your head- just leave the headband around your neck or wrap around your wrist.
When it’s really hot, I like using Teleties headbands instead because they prevent me from overheating (every bit counts in North Carolina!).
Teleties last a decade and can be shrunken back down to original size when soaked in hot water (not quite boiling).
If it will be sunny out or raining, a hat with a bill is your best bet to protect from the elements.
If you have long hair, lather some cream detangler in your hair. If it’s long enough, consider a braid which is less likely to knot.
Extra hair elastics on your wrist can double as makeshift ties for opened packages of food or bow biters in your laces.
Most ultramarathons begin early and end late, so you’ll need a headlamp to navigate the course. This is a requirement as important as your bib at most races and not optional!
On your Body
A rule of thumb in running, not just ultramarathons, is to dress 10-15 degrees warmer than what the weather says.
As in, less clothing. If it says 50, dress for 60-65.
The best strategy, no matter the season, is to layer. I like vests and breakaway pants from Fabletics for this.
Depending on the position of my drop bag (more info on that below), I’ll take them off there.
Otherwise, I’ll choose old gear I don’t mind throwing away. If you go this route, make sure you choose functional, moisture wicking, non chafing gear. That old cotton long sleeve tee is not a great option for throwaway clothes because you will perform in it.
A belt for your bib is a great idea since you’ll likely be undergoing multiple outfit changes. You aren’t going to want to mess with safety pins at mile 30!
What about Feet?
Feet: this is your biggest concern; it becomes larger as the distance gets longer.
Your feet will give out before your legs do in an ultramarathon.
Protect from blisters by utilizing body glide or Visible Aid in between your toes. A good pair of socks will go a long way; remember to pack multiple pairs.
You’ll choose the shoes appropriate for your terrain.
Nine times out of 10, they will be trail shoes which have a harder sole and grip for the many rocks & roots you’ll be running through.
Gaiters (not the reptile) are thin, moisture wicking sleeves designed to fit around your ankle so rocks, mud, or twigs don’t fly up and into your shoes.
What’s a Drop Bag?
All of your extra items will be in a drop bag. Unlike most shorter distance races; ultramarathons allow you to check a supply bag they will leave for you on designated parts of the course.
Fuel? Extra shoes or headlamps? Toothbrush and toothpaste? Tylenol? Laters of clothes? Extra phone or headphones if allowed (real talk: usually they aren’t!)?
There’s a comfort in knowing you will have these things and you don’t need to “mule” them yourself.
If I missed something, I hope you’ll let me know so I can update this post!
Thinking of an ultramarathon in 2021? Consider going the distance with me at Nutcracker 3/6/12 Hour (you choose!) in December.
Want to listen instead?
I’ve turned in the most popular blog posts into podcast episodes. This is one of them:
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