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

A man and woman run together down a greenway path.

A race-day checklist

Getting ready to toe the line of your first 5K or 10K? While conquering the distance may seem daunting, if you’ve put in the training and show up with a positive attitude, 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.

A piece of toast with peanut butter and banana on top.

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.

Make sure it’s carb heavy because fat and protein take a while to digest. Don't try anything new on race day. 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).

Popular race-day breakfasts for runners: Oatmeal, bananas, bagel with peanut butter.

2. Properly fitted, lightweight shoes.

Make sure that you’re wearing running shoes that properly fit you. We recommend heading into your local Fleet Feet for an expert one-on-one outfitting. Fleet Feet outfitters use 3D fit id® foot scanning technology to gather information about your feet and the support they need by taking precise measurements of your foot length, width and arch height.

On race day, a lightweight pair of shoes with a carbon plate will give you an added boost. Choose something appropriate for the terrain (road shoes for a road race, trail shoes for a trail race).

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 compression socks from CEP, or form fitting socks from Balega, or Feetures) are essential to getting you safely from start to finish blister free. And, they’ll last longer. (Choosing compression socks to wear after the race will help speed recovery.)

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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.

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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!

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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, or treat your feet to the TriggerPoint NANO foot roller. Show up to your race equipped with a percussion tool, like the Power Plate Mini+, and you'll instantly become everyone's best friend.

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A woman ties her shoes.

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:

A man ties his shoes.

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:

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