The Secret Running Tool: A Winter Racing Checklist
Save for a few special people (think Meb or Shalane), most of us are squeezing running and racing in between “real life” commitments: work, hobbies, social obligations, family. As technology advances ever more rapidly (“there’s an app for that!”), our ability to keep track of it all seems to follow an inverse trajectory.
If you are anything like me, you have lists everywhere – shopping lists, post-it notes full of work tasks, a to do list around the house, a mental list of phone calls to return…sometimes I need a list to remember all of my lists!
At the risk of adding to that conundrum, I humbly propose one more type of list to hopefully free up some of that mental space – the running checklist.
Running Towards the Horizon
Checklists can be broken up into two types – READ-DO and DO-CONFIRM. The former is helpful for tasks requiring exactness and a specific order (think assembling a new round of toys on Christmas afternoon). The latter is a bit more lax in its application (and tends to be how I pack for a trip: “Ok, did I grab my toothbrush, contact solution, and my sunglasses?”).
In his book “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right”, author Atul Gawande uses the example of the B-17 “Flying Fortress” (which came to fame during WWII) to illustrate just how important checklists can be – the initial demonstration flights of this iconic airplane were plagued with errors (due to the complexity of the pilot’s job, relative to the aircraft it was replacing), and it wasn’t until pilot READ-DO checklists were added to the mix that the true capabilities of the platform could be realized.
While I would be hesitant to compare my own Turkey Trot experience to that of flying over wartime France (and surely forgetting to shove a few tissues in my pocket on my way out the door is nowhere near as serious as forgetting to unlock the rudder controls before takeoff), I think some relative parallels can be drawn.
After a summer of running, it takes a few cold weather runs before I manage to shake the cobwebs off and remember how much more gear-intensive winter racing can seem.
Regardless of how often you run, or what the weather is like outside, having a DO-CONFIRM checklist to turn to, not only helps make sure you have what you need before heading out (freeing up your brain to focus on the task at hand) – it pays dividends in lower stress mile after mile.
Did I Grab it?
Below is my checklist for winter running.
- stocking cap
- winter running jacket
- mid layer
- base layer
- winter running tights
- shorts/outer pants
- wool socks
- winter running shoes
- a few tissues
- stick or two of gum
- running watch
- race bib/safety pins
As you have probably figured out, this list is a bit of a catch-all. If I am just going out for a run (instead of heading to a race), there is no race bib to grab – but having it on the list makes sure that I think about it before I lock the door behind me.
The same goes for a traction aid – it allows me to see the item on my list, have a quick mental debate about the iciness of my intended route, and then cross it off the list (because I either grabbed them, or deemed them unnecessary today).
One last look at the list on my way out the door, and I (hopefully) have fended off those nagging “Did I remember…?” thoughts which start to creep in about half a mile down the road.
What’s on your List?
Have you ever shown up to a race without your bib? Or realized that you forgot your music right after pulling into your parking spot across town for a group run? What is on your winter racing checklist (or just your running list)? Help me fill mine out using the comments below.