What gear do I need for a half marathon? Half Marathon Checklist

Half Marathon Checklist

Race day has arrived and it’s time to get the show on the road. Eat, take a shower, brush your teeth, collect your gear and get out the door. You hop in your car and head to the race. Nerves and anxiety are starting to get the best of your mental state. You’ve arrived at the race early and you exit your car and begin your journey to the race. You get to the race and slowly start to get warmed up. Your wrist seems light and you take a peek at your wrist – your heart skips a beat. You realize that you’ve left your GPS smartwatch at home. Don’t let this happen to you! Check out this half marathon checklist to make sure that you’ve got all of the gear you need prior to racing and after the race.

For a compiled detailed list of the best-running watches for half marathon training check out:

Best Half Marathon Training Watches

If you’re new to long-distance running check out these 5 articles first:

Full Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links for which, LERK Publishing, LLC., may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.

Here is the half marathon checklist:

Prepare Race Day Kit (bag)

Prepare Post Race Kit (bag)


  • Plastic boot slip ons (rain/snow)
  • Disposable sweat top
  • Disposable sweat pants

The night before the race

  • Set out all of your race clothes/shoes
  • Pin bib to shirt/short if you have it
  • Charge watch/phone batteries for race
  • Make morning meal in advance
  • Set alarms (multiple just in case)
  • Determine the route to the race

Last-Minute Tasks

  • Establish friend meetup plan
  • Check traffic on route to the race
  • Check the weather again
  • Double-check gear before leaving the car
  • Secure car keys

15 minutes prior to the race

  • Make sure in the correct corral (if your race has them)
  • Locate your pacer you plan on following (if your race has them and you use one)
  • Close your eyes and relax for a few minutes
  • Visualize yourself crossing the finish line (hopefully, you’ve been doing this before every long run)
  • Don’t start off too fast

For a detailed post about the pros and cons of pacers checkout:

What is a Pacer and should I follow one on my next big race?

Did you pick up your race bib and/or timing chip early?

If you didn’t pick up your bib early, make sure that you head to the race earlier than you’ve planned. Depending on how big the race is picking up your bib could cost you an extra 15 to 20 minutes.

On race day, where do I store my valuables?

When you pick up your packet you’ll have a bib with a gear-check bag tear-off tab located on the bottom part of the bid. Gear check bags are normally not offered for races smaller than a half marathon. For the longer races such as a half or full marathon, you’ll probably want to safely store some of your valuables in a gear check bag. For more detailed information about gear bags, check out this post: What is a gear check bag?

How does the weather look?

If the weather for the race is going to be wet either by rain or snow, you’ll need to, at all costs, protect your precious feet. Sometimes the racecourse will offer some booties that might help keep your feet dry. Your best bet is to have a pair of reusable rain slip ons that probably won’t be able to be used after your race (you’ll probably destroy them). That’s a small price to pay to keep your feet dry for a 2+ hour race.

How is your racing strategy? Do you have a backup plan?

All of the work you’ve down over the past weeks is done. It’s now time to run your race. Stick with the same racing/pacing strategies you worked with during your training. Don’t forget if your racing strategy falls apart it’s not a bad idea to have a half marathon backup plan to resort to. In a few of my half marathon races, I’ve had to use plan B due to the weather being too hot or the racecourse too hilly. Need a backup plan check out this article for creating a half marathon back up plan.


Even if you didn’t drink too much water force yourself to use the restroom, or at least try to use the restroom, a couple of times before your race. If your stomach is sloshing around you’ve definitely drunk too much. Most bigger races have portable potties along the course so if you don’t have to go at the starting line you can go a few miles up the road.

Last-minute Fueling?

Are you going to fuel with an energy gel before the race? If so make sure to take the gel no earlier than 15 minutes before the race. Energy gel fuel roughly takes about 10-15 minutes to be turned into energy for your race. Some people take the energy closer to the 5 minutes prior to the race start. Always take your energy gels with water. Wondering how much energy gels to take? Check out my half marathon energy gel strategy. 

Fuel assimilation?

Don’t forget that over-fueling can be a problem as well. Your stomach can roughly assimilate/digest only about 250 calories (30-60 grams of carbohydrates) an hour. If you stuff 4 100 calorie energy gels into your body all at once, your stomach might lock up or you could become sick. So your body at this point would only be grabbing 250 calories of the 400 calories you stuffed down. While it is possible that some people’s metabolism can be faster than others so they might be able to churn through 300 calories an hour instead of 250 calories, it’s worth sticking to the 250 calorie limit (30-60 grams of carbohydrates).

Should I carry water for a half marathon?

Deciding whether or not to carry water on your half marathon is a matter of preference. In this detailed post, I answer common ways to carry water for your first half marathon as well as the pros and cons of using on-course water. Check out that post here, should I carry water for a half marathon.

Do I have my goto meals for race day morning and the night before race day?

Hopefully, you’ve tested your race day meal at least 2 to 3 times during your long run training sessions prior to your race. Eat this same go-to meal the morning of your race, preferably at least 2 hours before the race starts.

Unwind, Destress, Let out the Gas (Ewww)

It’s time to take it easy race week, which means mentally as well.

How do I prepare my body and mind the week of my first half marathon?

It’s time to prepare for race day! Today starts off the last week leading up to my half marathon race on Saturday. If you’ve trained hard, you’ve run quite a few long runs at a distance close to and above 10 miles. I’ve also been trying to lose some of my extra weight prior to race day. This is the week when it’s time to put on the breaks and coast into your race day. It’s time for your body to rest up, get good nutrition, and prepare your mind for race day. If you were dieting during your race this is the week to bump up your nutrients and substitute some of your fruits and vegetables for carbohydrates such as pasta.

6 Days prior to my first half marathon – Sunday 

My last long run was yesterday, which was 12 miles at a good steady slow pace. It’s been extra humid for this time of year and my long runs, to say the least, have suffered in performance. That’s ok because hot weather conditioning for your training will make a better race-day performance. If your race day is substantially cooler then you will get even more benefits from training in hotter weather.

5 Days prior to my first half marathon – Monday

Rest. I am still letting my muscles rebuild from Saturday’s long run. Remember that your muscles don’t build when you are running only when you are recovering which takes 24-48 hours.

5 Days prior to my first half marathon –Tuesday

I run approximately 3 miles at an easy-medium pace. I do not push myself at all this week. This week is designed to taper you into race day.

3 Days prior to my first half marathon – Wednesday

Last official run before the race. This run is extremely light-footed and technology free. I run just for the fun of it and I try not to bring along any music as well. I typically will not push past 2 miles.

2 Days prior to my first half marathon – Thursday

Rest. I don’t cross-train or run. I will, however, go for an easy walking stroll for a distance of 1 to 2 miles.

1 Day prior to my first half marathon – Friday

I might go for a half a mile to one mile extremely slow run. The only reason I would run would be if I am feeling a bit on edge about the race and need to shake out a winding up of too much energy. I strongly don’t recommend running at all this day, especially for new half marathoners. I only share this with you because there are some of us that need to let a tiny bit of gas out of the engine or we might go bonkers.

Bonus: Schedule a massage. If you don’t have time for a full body massage then get in a leg massage. This will work wonders for your race and help you relax physically and mentally prior to race day.

Here is a great post that are 5 things you should do race day week.

Race Day – Saturday

Race day has arrived.  It’s time to wake up and eat your calories for race day (If you don’t know what your pre-race meal should consist of and how many carbs you need to check out this post: what should you eat before a half marathon race.) Dawn your gear and hit the door. Don’t forget your race fuel! Make sure that you’ve gone over your checklists for race day.

Sometimes race day can get your nerves shooting through the roof. Try to relax, close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing. Here are 5 ways you can easily boost race day motivation.

Half Marathon Recovery

Just as important as the race, it’s time on winding down for about a week until you take up long-distance running again. Here is a detailed article of what you need to do starting immediately after your half marathon race.

Recovery Day 1- Sunday

The day after the race, some of us like to go for a recovery run. Recovery runs are extremely easy on the body that helps loosen up the legs slightly and move around your facial tissue to prevent extended soreness. This is optional and some of you won’t be able to run at all the next day. Try to at a minimum walk a few miles and do some light stretching after walking.

Recovery Day 2 thru 7

Are you continuing on to a marathon race? If so there’s not too much recovery involved except what is already baked into your marathon training plan. If you’re taking a short break then continue to run at a minimal effort. I wouldn’t run anything over 6 miles from days 2 through 7. Remember to walk as much as you want to. The key here is to repair your muscles from the half marathon race. You might find your leg muscles feel better if you elevate them for 10-15 minutes against the wall with your back flat on the ground.

Recovery Day 8+

Hopefully, your body is well on the way to recovery. If your legs are feeling good and you’re mentally rested, you can start running 6 miles and longer. If you attempt to run 6 miles at your normal base mile pace and you get winded easily, your body might not be ready to tackle the longer miles yet. Remember take it easy when shifting your body back into your longer running sessions as well as your speed and tempo work.


Coach Scott is a published author and RRCA certified running coach (Level 2). He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 14th half marathon race. 

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