Updated: Apr 21, 2022
One athlete's trash can be the prepared athlete's treasure! Three items that many of us throw away can go a long way toward helping your race day preparations. They can save a wetsuit from the dreaded fingernail gashes, help lower anxiety packing for a long course race, and streamline your race day hydration plan and execution.
First, let's talk about gloves. You know those knit gloves you often get from that end-of-season 10k or ½ marathon? They usually end being used for a convenient handkerchief replacement during the race and are quickly tossed aside afterwards. Well not so fast, my friend! Hold on to those gloves, wash them, and wear them when you are putting on your wetsuit to prevent those fingernail gashes. Your wetsuit will love you for this bit of thoughtfulness.
Second, gear bags. Many people simply throw away their gear bags after an IRONMAN event. Don't! The next time you are packing for a race, out of town or just across town, use those saved bags to organize your thoughts and packing needs for race day. Lay out the bags just as you would the night before gear check in, whether in your hotel room or at home. Then when you pick up your new bags simply transfer the contents to the new bags as you mentally review your race day strategy and nutrition needs.
Third, bottles. After racing a long course event, the last thing most of us want to see for a long time is an on-course Gatorade bottle. But don't be too hasty in tossing those bottles into the recycle bin. In fact, make sure you finish the bike leg with at least two of them. After the race save them, wash them, and train with them. Those Gatorade bottles are not the same shape or size of most bike water bottles. Training time is when you want to know how they will fit into your cages... or not... as well as how they work with your own hydration system. With mine, if I open the cap and try to squeeze it into the system I have mounted on my aero bars, the lid of the Gatorade bottle gets stuck. I have learned to go ahead and take the cap off and pour the bottle straight in then toss it before I leave the aid station. But that comes from practicing with the actual bottles that will be hand-ups at the race. And another word about bottle fit. At every race I see the course littered with bottles. The Gatorade bottles are simply more narrow than most cages accommodate. So practice with these saved bottles and find the right cages that will allow you to hold on to your hydration during the race.
Saving those “throw away” gloves can save your wetsuit. Saving and using your gear bags as a planning, packing, and preparation aide can help reduce pre-race anxiety and forgotten items, especially when the race is out of town. Saving and practicing with the race bottles can help you have a successful hydration plan that fits what will be on the course and be confident in the systems on your bike as you go into race day. So don't toss those bottles, bags and gloves. Instead be the better prepared athlete and save them, use them, and have a great training racing season.