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One of my first jobs out of college was for a major running shoe company as a technical representative. The job involved a lot of talking about running and a lot of driving. For the first couple of months I struggled to fit in running. It sounded crazy to others—how can you work for a running company and not have time to run? I was working when runners weren’t, so the times that I had to run were completely different from those I had been accustomed to. When I wasn’t working an event, at a fun run, or at a running specialty store, I was traveling to and from those places/events. It sounded like the ideal job to fit in lots of miles, but it was the opposite.
On the recommendation of a friend I created a “running locker” for my car. It was only then that I was able to start squeezing in my runs and train the way I wanted to. Learning to squeeze things in ended up being excellent training for what it has been like to train for marathons while raising three kids.
My first locker was a giant plastic bucket in the back of my SUV. I was single, had a large car and space wasn’t an issue. As my family has grown and the space I have in our car has dwindled I moved to a duffel bag. I now have progressed to smaller bags, that only hold the essentials. My current favorites are the Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport™ Shoe Locker and Fitness Locker.
Why keep running stuff in your car?
Have you ever been on a solo drive or even with a friend and spotted an excellent place to run? Before I had my back-up running gear, I’d think, I wish I had packed some running clothes. Sure I could have thought ahead, but I didn’t know I was going to want to run or that I would find time or a spot to run. Always having running gear in the car meant that I didn’t have to think about whether I was going to run that day. If I wanted to, I had the option of doing so because the gear was there.
These days I find myself using my back-up gear during my kids’ sports practices. I love hanging out chatting with other parents during the practices, but sometimes I show up and none of my mom friends are there, so rather than read a book or waste time on the internet, I change in my car and go for a short run.
Keeping what I need in small bags vs a duffel bag means that I can grab my gear at any time and shove it in to my backpack or bring the sweaty clothing inside after the run and switch it out for a new outfit, while leaving my shoes in the car for another day.
If you want to make your own running locker, here is what I suggest you put in it:
- Older running shoes—I have a pair that still has some mileage left on it, but they aren’t the pair I wear every day. This way I don’t feel bad about leaving them in the car.
- Running shorts—Unless it’s winter or below 32 degrees where you live, you can (for the most part) get away with running in shorts. Shorts take up less room than tights.
- Socks—I like to keep two pairs: One pair of compression socks, which does the double duty of keeping me warm if it’s colder, and one pair of low-cut socks.
- Sports bra—I keep one that I don’t love as much in the car, so I don’t find myself wanting it when digging through my drawer in the morning.
- Body Glide—I don’t run without it.
- Deodorant—Self explanatory!
- Hair elastics—I can’t run with my hair bouncing around. They also come in handy on race morning if a friend asks to borrow one. I know I always have a couple in my car.
- Safety pins—You don’t typically need these on a daily basis, but again, I like to keep back-ups if I’m at a local race and they run out. I know I can run to my car quickly and grab some.
- Tank top and a long sleeve—On a hot day I use the tank, cooler day the long sleeve, and a cold day, I layer them both.
- Lightweight hat—Great for keeping the sun out of my eyes if it’s sunny or keeping me cool if it’s hot.
- Small Towel—To sit on after the run if I am sweaty.
- Wipes—No one wants to be salty and gross in their car. Wipes are great for cleaning up post-run or work well if you need to (ahem) find a place to ‘stop’ behind a tree.
- Lightweight Long Sleeve—I also pack another long sleeve shirt in case I’m really sweaty and need to change so I don’t get the chills.
- Snacks—This isn’t a make or break item. I do, however, like to keep a couple of snacks in my bag just in case I won’t have access to food for awhile (because runger is no fun).
- Nuun—I typically have water with me at all times. On particularly hot days or after runs where I sweat a lot, nuun feels more refreshing than just plain water.