Putting your best foot forward by being prepared

By Aaron Mabry | Feb 16, 2012

As the season turns and we transition from winter to spring sports, it’s important to get a good feel for what you’ll need if you intend to run track.
Since I’ve been coaching, it’s become evident that though some student athletes have their hearts in the right place, they aren’t always well prepared for what their coaches are about to throw their way.  
That’s why I’d like to take the opportunity to give some insight as to what to prepare for both practices and meets.

This time of year, the weather can rapidly change and you’ve got to be sure you’re prepared. And the first thing you need to do is stay warm. You need to have a winter cap that ideally has some type of wind resistance built into it to shield your ears from the elements. Second, a pair of gloves that conforms to your hands will surely help prevent that awful sting in your extremities. And last but certainly not least, a reusable water bottle. Having a water bottle along side you while you practice is the ideal way to maintain hydration during your workouts. It supplies you with a quick burst when you need it  and doesn’t halt your progression since you won’t have to excuse yourself for a five-minute water break.

The first thing you need for a track meet is a small- to medium- sized duffel bag. In this bag, you’ll be carrying with you the normal items such as your uniform and your track spikes, as well as a change of clothes for after the meet. But keep in mind that track meets can be fickle. Conditions can change from one hour to the next, and you need to be sure that no element will stop you from reaching your potential on any given day.
What do I recommend? You always need to have a waterproof shell or jacket. These jackets condense tightly and fit in a small corner of your bag. They’re ideal for both rainy conditions as well as warming up.
Next, be sure to pack a healthy snack. Doing so will sustain you throughout the evening and keep you running at your best. After all, if your 4 x 800 starts at 3:30 and you’re expected to run the 4 x 400 at 7 p.m., then you need to be sure to pack in those essential nutrients. For this reason, bananas, nuts, seeds, honey and fruits make perfect snacks. Just be sure and stay away from the hot dog at the concession stand.

Stay Organized
More than anything, once you go through a few meets, you’ll know what you need and to help you stay organized, I suggest you create a checklist to go over the evening prior to a meet. Take 10 minutes the night before and pack your bag. This way you won’t have to worry and you can compete knowing that you’re prepared for anything. After all, you’ve spent all this time training. But what good will that do you if you’re not fully prepared on race day?

Aaron Mabry is a former 800m and 1000m State Champion from Pisgah High School. He ran collegiately at East Carolina University where he had the opportunity to compete in Conference USA.
Now married, he’s the Director of the Haywood County Fairgrounds and is an assistant coach for Pisgah’s distance program.