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The Gear You Need to Run a 5K or 10K

Three people run together on a paved path

A race-day checklist

[This article was updated on Oct. 14, 2019]


Getting ready to toe the line of your first 5K or 10K? Just because both races are relatively short (at least in the world of distance running) that doesn’t mean they’re easy. If you’ve put in the training and show up with a positive attitude, though, running any distance is almost guaranteed to be a fun challenge. Lucky for you, we’ve got a handy pre-race checklist to help you make the most of race day:

1. A small meal or snack.

What you eat before running matters. Consume between 200 and 300 calories about two hours before your race start. And make sure it’s carb heavy because fat and protein take a while to digest. Pre-race breakfast is a good thing to practice in training (like on hard workout days) to make sure you’re putting in the types of foods your stomach can handle. A couple more tidbits, if we may: keep it bland and relatively low in fiber (pre-race jitters will probably already have you heading to the bathroom enough times before the gun goes off).

2. Properly Fitted, Lightweight Shoes.

Make sure that you’re wearing running shoes that properly fit you based on both your foot measurements (from fit id) and a gait analysis by a fit expert. Selecting a lightweight pair of shoes for speedwork and race day will give you an added boost. A word of caution: if you’re going to wear racing flats, make sure you have the miles and experience to wear them to prevent injury.

3. Moisture-wicking socks.

Please, please, please, if you have any cotton socks in your drawer, now is the time to throw them out. This is the time for the best running socks you can find. Race day or not, a good pair of moisture-wicking socks (like these, these, or these) are essential to getting you safely from start to finish blister free. And, they’ll last longer. (Choosing compression socks to wear during or after the race may help speed recovery.)

4. Water bottle (filled with water) for before and after the race.

While a 5K and 10K are likely too short to need mid-run hydration, you want to make sure you’re well hydrated before and after the race. Sure, most races have cups or bottles of water at the finish, but bringing your own bottle (one that holds at least 750 ml) not only helps you drink more, it also enables you to save on waste.

5. A smart watch for tracking pace and mileage.

Wearing a GPS watch (like a Garmin watch) will help you keep track of your race so you can stay on goal pace … or push past it!

6. Sun protection.

You can still suffer a sunburn even on cloudy days, so cover up with a sweat-proof sunblock, a hat or visor, and maybe even sunglasses.

7. Weather appropriate apparel and a change of clothes.

Is it going to be cold, hot, windy, or rainy? No matter which way the weather turns, it’s imperative that you’re prepared to be in it before, during, and after the race. A good rule of thumb for running garb: dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer than it actually is; you’re going to heat up.

8. Massage Tool.

No better time to start recovery than immediately following your cool down. Try the Addaday Pro Roller for self-massage precision on your calves, hamstrings, and quads. Your body will thank you.

Women's running clothes laydown

5K Gear for Women

Some of the best 5K gear for women is some of the simplest. A technical tank, supportive sports bra, breezy shorts and socks will let you run freely. Here are a few of our favorites:

Men's running clothes laydown

5K Gear for Men

Speed is important when you're running a 5K, so you need a streamlined kit that won't weigh you down. These few essentials will help you run your best:

By Ashley Arnold. Ashley has been running competitively since 2000. She went from winning the high school 300m hurdle state championship as a sophomore in 2002 to breaking the tape at the Leadville Trail 100 in 2013. Now, her full time role is managing content as the Senior Content Marketing Manger at Fleet Feet.