What every runner should have in their car

Presented by Run Coach’s Ashley Benson.

Even if your runs primarily depart from home or office, running or racing will likely take you to points best accessed by car at some point or another. Sure, you may not want to have everything in the car at all times, but a few key items left in the car (rather than trying to remember them each time out) can make a runner’s life a bit easier. 


There are bacteria killing hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes which are easy to use and to dispose of. Use after an outdoor bathroom stop, opening a cattle gate, or a high-five given to a friend or stranger. There are endless scenarios…and just a little bit goes a long way.  

Blanket / towel (or more than one)

One of these items can provide protection and warmth after a surprise cold rainstorm on a November morning, or a layer between you and the driver’s seat when the air is thick with humidity. Having a towel or blanket can also make it more likely you will take a moment to stretch or roll, or spend 5-10 minutes adding some core work to the end of your run when you have a spare few moments. A saved space blanket from the end of a long race can also be an easy-to-store, useful item as a layer between a sweaty you and your car.


Fueling directly after a hard workout or long run is key to regulating your blood sugar and quickening recovery. Take a moment to stack a few of your favourite bars, such as xact nutrition (Official nutrition partner to Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend) for mid-run replenishment in the glove box or in a Ziploc in the trunk. This will ensure you can top up the tank at the end of your run and avoid a midday bonk or rash meal decision due to the sharp pang of hunger + fatigue. Sometimes, you are leaving from a location where you can’t select or prepare a snack to bring with you.  If you have a snack readily accessible, your chances of success in that workout or run will increase.


Even one spare 16 ounce bottle of water can be of great help if you exhaust your fluids on the run and arrive back at a trailhead with no facilities and a lengthy drive to the nearest gas station or store. Water can also wash dirt or blood away as needed due to running mishaps. Pack a dissolvable tablet or two of your nuun, Official supplier of electrolyte hydration to the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend and Run Ottawa,  with your xact nutrition, and you will be in even better shape.

First aid kit 

First Aid Kit

A must-have even if it includes only some bandages, disinfectant, basic gauze, tape, and perhaps an anti-inflammatory, the chance to tend to a mishap directly after it occurs makes a huge difference compared to how that same injury might react hours later. You can buy a fully-stocked first aid kit from our friends at St. John Ambulance, to have at the ready.

A charger or an adapter

When in remote areas, having a phone charger that works with the car can be of significant help in a tough spot, and with the proliferation of chargers with USB ports, charging a GPS device with the car’s power is now easily possible as well.

Hat with a bill, gloves

A running hat—we’re a big fan of this one from Running Room—with a bill that is not only compact and crushable, but can help keep water out of the eyes in a rainstorm and sun from the face when no clouds are in the sky. Gloves (the cheap throw away kind), can feel like the most precious piece of clothing when they are really needed.  Neither takes up very much space.

A Foam Roller or a Massage Stick

Again, if your run is squeezed between other appointments or engagements, or involves a decent-length drive to and from, consider keeping a stick in the car. It takes up very little space, and can be used both to loosen up before the run as well as to start the recovery process, avoiding some of the inevitable stiffness on the drive back. Foam rollers and massage sticks can both be found at your local Running Room or in their online store.

Every runner has their particular comfort items, or specific variations of this list that provide peace of mind and care when things haven’t gone well—or even if they have.  A bit of forethought to keep some of these items on hand when driving can help our bodies handle the rigors of training, even in the midst of our complicated lives.