Fitting runs into your schedule can be tough, but if you keep extra gear in your car, it becomes that much easier!
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.