FLIGHT FAVORITES: 16 Carry-On Necessities When Traveling for a Race

We just returned home from Japan a couple days ago. For those who don't already know, I ran the Tokyo Marathon on February 28th. I am still a bit jet lagged and I don't have all the energy I need to complete a full length post on our trip to Japan, and my experience running the Tokyo Marathon just yet. I had an amazing time, and I can't wait to tell you all about it! It's going to take me several days to gather my thoughts, photos and compile a trip recap. Until then, I thought I would share what products I took with me on the flight that really made a difference in comfort and ease of travel. 

The flight to Japan was roughly 20 hours with layovers and connections. So a large portion of our travel time was spent in the air or in an airport. We left Saturday (February 20) morning at 9am and arrived in Kyoto Sunday at 10pm (Japan is 14 hours ahead of the USA).  The confined space on an airplane, lack of leg room (if you don't fly first class, and we didn't), the stiff airplane seats and overall atmosphere on a plane can start to wear on you after so many hours. You can only watch so many movies. BTW my husband thinks he set a new "World Record". He watched 6 movies on the way over to Japan. He was pretty proud of himself! The flight over wasn't so bad. I slept for the majority of the flight. But the return flight home was a bit rough for both of us. The following products are my travel essentials for a destination race. Of course this list is catered to a marathon runner who is traveling to and from a race. After all, sitting on a plane for 10+ hours after running a 26.2 miles can be pretty painful and cause some stiffness. But the non-runner can also benefit from this list as well! 

My travel essentials:

1. Eye mask: I like the Brookstone Nap (TM) eyemask. It is soft, and it won't ruin your eye makeup. It also won't leave you with lines or strap marks on your face

2. A magazine to help pass the time. I took UltraRunner (thanks to my good friend Bob) and Runner's World

3. Lululemon Vinyasa scarf: This was a gift from my dear friend Susan. Not only did this keep me warm, but it is super cute! It turns any plain outfit into a fashionable one. It is so soft and comfortable. It can substitute as a pillow or mini blanket, it's that big! I love this product. It has a zipper as well, unlike other infinity scarves. You can wear it as an infinity scarf, or unzip it to wear as a regular scarf! I took it everywhere with me. Plus I prefered it over the airplane blankets! Oh, and according to the product info, you can also wear it as a shirt! Check out the link. 

4. 1Above®: "The Flight Drink". This product will help prevent jet lag and it really works! I used it on my way over to Tokyo and I didn't experience any jet lag. I didn't have it coming home and I really regretted not buying more. It contains a natural key active ingredient called Pycnogenol®. Pycnogenol® is a natural bark extract, that helps reduce the length of jet lag by 53-61%. It comes in a tablet or drink form, and has varying degrees of potency. It also helps to improve circulation, and decrease your chances of developing a DVT (deep vein thrombosis). It also contains 6 essential electrolytes that will help keep you hydrated fast. Pycnogenol® has also been shown to reduce the average length of the common cold and reduce flu like symptoms by 1.7 days or 20%. 1Above® combines Pycnogenol®, vitamin C, B and essential electrolytes to build up your natural defenses. Pretty impressive right? 

5. Aveda Blue Oil: Product description - "Aveda's stress-relieving blue oil helps dissolve tension and raise energy levels with the balancing aromas of refreshing peppermint and soothing blue chamomile. When gently touched to skin, the special rollerball applicator releases the perfect amount of concentrate for on-the-spot, cooling acupressure therapy." I take this product with me everywhere. I use it at work, when I have a headache, before yoga, or when traveling in a car for a long period of time. The rollerball can be used to work out areas of tension on your neck, plus the essential oils leave your skin feeling cool and your muscles relaxed. Apply on your neck or temples when traveling. It is amazing!

6. Emergen-Zzz®: Another really cool multi-purpose product. It combines 2 beneficial ingredients: Vitamin C (along with many other key antioxidants) and melatonin! It will help you sleep and also build up your immune system (which will take a hit when you're traveling). I mentioned in an earlier post that I take Emergen-C® with me on every trip, but this specific product is great for long flights because it will help you sleep. 

7. Mini travel toothbrushes: This product by Colgate® is a must for any traveler. You can brush your teeth, and you don't even need to leave your seat! 

8. Compression socks: This is a must for anyone traveling longer than 4 hours. It not only will help prevent a DVT, but they help with recovery after running. I like the Smartwool ®or CEP brands. You can get regular DVT prevention hose/socks at any pharmacy, or airport general store. Sidenote: make sure to get up out of your seat during your flight and walk around a few times to get the blood flowing in your extremities. Read about DVTs and prevention here.

9. Salonpas patches®: These over-the-counter pain patches might come in handy if you have pain in one specific area before or after your race. I had mild back pain on the return trip, and these were helpful. Let's face it, sitting upright for 15 hours on a plane can cause some back pain. They really work too!

10. Earplugs: Find a brand that works for you. I like the Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs

11. Gin-Gins®: I mentioned this product in my previous post, and it's worth mentioning again. Ginger can help with nausea or a stomachache. It also helps with motion sickness. Our return flight was pretty bumpy and I got nauseous from all the turbulence. Gin-Gins® calmed my stomach. I love the spicy apple flavor. It's delicious!

12. Flushable wipes: Multi-purpose. 

13. Eye drops: I like the preservative free individual vials by Systane®. These vials are a nice option to travel with. I have carried a mini bottle with me before and it leaked. And another time I had a mini bottle dry out. The individual vials will prevent that from happening. I have contacts, and these really keep my eyes lubricated when I fly. Even if you don't have contacts, traveling can dry your eyes out. Another suggestion is to take your contacts out all together, and carry a mini contact solution bottle and contact case with you. 

14. LUSH Vanillary solid perfumeThis is a small, solid perfume product that is nice to carry in your purse or carry-on bag. The solid perfumes come in different scents. I prefer the basic vanilla. It's not a liquid, so it can go in your carry-on. 

15. Inflatable pillow: I like the Seat-To-Summit Aeros Pillow (ultra light). This is such a comfortable pillow. And it is small enough to fit in your purse or carry-on bag. Inflation is required, but it doesn't require much effort. And it deflates easily. I really love the size of it. It can be used as a pillow for your head or back.  

16. Vaseline®: We did a great deal of walking in Japan before and after the marathon. This time around I really suffered from blisters (poor choice of shoes, and I didn't apply Vaseline® or Glide®). I like the size of this product because it's small enough to fit in a purse or carry-on bag, and it's multi-use. It can be used on your lips or lubricate your toes or areas that were chafed after your race. Featured in the picture is the "lip therapy" size (original), but the ingredients are the same as regular Vaseline® and can be applied anywhere. I bought mine at Target. 

Some other things to consider are basic pain medication, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Flying back right after a marathon can be tough. See my previous post on my "medical kit" recommendations (in "Packing Up!"). Another thing I wish I had brought with me is my training journal or any journal. Our flight didn't have wifi, and I got bored watching TV. I wish I had a journal to write down some thoughts about my race and experience. I used my phone to do this, but a journal to record your experience is always nice to have. Sometimes writing down your thoughts in the moment is easier than forcing yourself to recall things later. 

Hopefully this list will help you when you're packing for vacation or a destination race!

Gion district in Kyoto, Japan

Please check back soon or subscribe to my blog. I have a couple of really exciting posts coming up and I guarantee you'll enjoy them. I am in the process of compiling a post on my experience running the Tokyo Marathon and also a post on our overall travel with pictures to Japan (sneak peek picture above from our trip to Kyoto). BUT.... in addition to that I have a couple other exciting posts in my line-up. Since the Boston Marathon is several weeks away, I will be focusing my attention on that race. An organization I belong to, Athletes Serving Athletes, has a team running Boston this year, Team Kevin. I will be interviewing Team Kevin! Stay tuned for that. You won't want to miss this team's inspiring story!


Professional Marathoner, Nick Arciniaga, has graciously offered to do an interview with me for my blog. For those of you who follow professional marathoners, Nick was recently in the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials in LA. He was one of the top 10 finishers! Nick is an incredible athlete. He has finished 18 marathons, and finished in the Top 10 in 12 of those. He has ran 3 out of the 6 Abbott World Marathon Majors (Chicago, Boston and NYC). You won't want to miss this post!

Until next time, 


Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by any of the above products. I am an Ambassador for the Abbott World Marathon Majors and what is shared in my blog is my opinion and not theirs. 
Source: www.travel-run-repeat.com/blog/flightfavor...

Three Weeks! Time to Taper

The Tokyo Marathon is now less than 3 weeks away. That means it's time to "taper" for participants, including myself. The Tokyo Marathon is the first in the Abbott World Marathon Major series. It is followed by the Boston Marathon. This marathon is early in the year compared to most races. It will be held on February 28, 2016. Most spring marathons take place in the months of April or May and most fall marathons take place in October or November. Most of you are not thinking about tapering now, but for those of us running Tokyo, this is an important time. For marathoners running in the spring or fall, save this post for future reference!

I’ve read several articles on tapering and I’ve summarized the basics. Don’t minimize this time. Now is the time to reset, replenish, and repair. It’s easy to feel moody, sick, achy or bloated. In the past I have continued to train hard up until race day, and avoided tapering. I only suffered more on race day. If tapering weren’t so important then there wouldn’t be so much research or recommendations on it out there. Trust your training plan and start tapering.

Week 3: (Three weeks before your marathon)

  • Your longest run is behind you. Your long runs over the next couple weeks shouldn’t be more than 12-14 miles. Maintain a similar pace as you have before.
  • Decrease total weekly mileage from the previous week by 20%.
  • Buy a new pair of shoes if you need them. Now is the time to break them in. I LOVE new shoes. For me, getting new pair of shoes during this time is a way to reward myself for all the hard work I’ve put in. Stick with what you have been wearing all along. Don’t try a new brand or a different type of shoe.
  • Eat more protein
    • Muscle tissue was damaged during your high mileage phase. Now is the time to recover. Lysine, an amino acid found mostly in meat and fish, will further help your immune functions.
  • Avoid hilly courses or hill repetitions! The last thing you need is an injury. Muscle tissue damage occurs during these types of runs, and that needs to be minimized during this time.
  • Schedule any massage, chiropractic or physical therapy appointments for this week or next.
  • Take in extra Vitamin C!
    • This will help prevent a cold or illness during this recovery phase
    • Plus vitamin C is good for your joints! Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis. Collagen is a component of ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Daily intake of vitamin C allows your body to produce collagen and keeps your cartilage strong, decreasing joint pain.
    • I really like Tart Cherry juice (article).  This is my main recovery drink. I add turmeric powder (benefits listed here) to my cherry juice. This combo is really good for inflammation, plus it has so many other benefits.
  • Start preparing for race day.
    • Think of gear you may need or what you’re going to wear on race day. Order any last minute items you may need.
    • Look at course maps.
    • Figure out how you’re going to get to the start of the race. Train? Taxi?
    • Plan out your meal before the race. Where are you going to eat and do you need to make any reservations?
    • Confirm hotel or car reservations if you are traveling.
    • If you are traveling, finalize any tourist activities before or after the race.
      • Make any tour reservations now if you haven’t already done so.
        • For those of you traveling to Tokyo, and who are interested in visiting the Imperial Palace, make arrangements now to be granted access to the Palace. Click here to apply. Note: the website might not be working during specific hours. In the USA we are 14 hours behind Japan. I had to wait till a certain hour of the day before I could apply. You must make arrangements ahead of time in order to visit the Palace.
      • If you’re traveling with family, make sure they are aware of your plans before race day so there are no surprises or disappointments in the lack of excitement before your race.

Week 2

  • Mileage this week should be ½ to 2/3 of your highest mileage week before tapering.
  • Shorter weekday runs should be slow. Don’t try to fit in speed workouts during this time. Adding a few 100m strides in your weekday runs is fine to stay loose. Now is not the time to practice your Yasso 800's.
  • Long runs should be no more than 10-12 miles this week.
  • Establish race goals and alternatives.
  • Revisit the race website for any final details or instructions. Make sure you know your expo/packet-pickup plans. Tokyo Marathon official website.
  • Don’t start dieting now. There will be the temptation to cut back on fat. Don’t! Fat is a necessary back-up when your carb stores are depleted.
    • Unsaturated fats are your friend. Like nuts, or fish. Pizza is not a good fat!
  • Weight training should stop now. This will continue to cause muscle breakdown. This is your “repair” time.

Week 1 – 1 week before race day!

  • Mileage has significantly decreased during this time. Follow your plan and don’t do anything crazy during this time. Running is allowed, just note that nothing you do now will help you on race day, other than keep you loose.
  • Gear check.
    • Look at the weather and make a final decision on what you’re going to wear. Have a couple options for outfits/clothes just in case the weather changes. You can always buy stuff at the expo or a sporting goods store, but you will end up spending more money and you will be running in something you haven’t run in before. Weather in Tokyo, Japan.
  • If you haven’t already begun to increase your carbohydrate intake, do so now. Studies have shown that increasing carbs during the final week to 3 days leading up to a race is most important. 21 days before your marathon you should be taking in more fats and protein (healthy options like avocados or fish).
  • Avoid eating anything new during this time. Japan is known for delicious sushi (potentially containing raw fish) and some spicy dishes. A couple days before your race, stick with cooked, bland food, like plain rice.
  • Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. The night before your race you won’t sleep much. Try to make sure that you are well rested in the days preceding the night before your race.
    • I am traveling to Tokyo one week before the marathon so I can get used to the time change. For any overseas marathon, you need to consider the time change when planning your arrival date.
  • Don’t do anything new! Now is not the time to start home renovations. Avoid moving heavy pieces of furniture or boxes. Don’t go on some adventurous trail run where you could potentially fall or roll an ankle. I know all about the dangers of doing this.
  • Final plans leading up to the big day
    • Avoid walking a lot before race day. The day before your marathon pick one easy activity to do, like a bus or boat tour, where you are not walking. Go to a movie or something like that.
    • Try to go to the expo 2 days before race day to avoid long lines, and walking for long periods of time. The last thing you need is to stress out before your big day. Tokyo Marathon Expo information.
  • Realize that you will probably be stressed out during this time. You will start over analyzing your training. You will start feeling joint or muscle aches you’ve never felt before. This is all normal. Embrace it all. It’s almost over!

After I actually run the Tokyo Marathon myself, I will have more recommendations on what to do in Tokyo the day before the marathon, like bus tours or things that don't involve much walking. For now, these are basic suggestions to follow during the 3 weeks leading up to our big day!

Please note: I am not a certified running coach. I am only speaking from experience. Most of the above recommendations come from the sources listed below. I summarized what the articles have said and added my own advice as well. Also, I am an Ambassador for the Abbott World Marathon Majors organization. 



  1. http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/why-you-should-taper-before-a-marathon
  2. http://running.competitor.com/2014/09/training/the-final-marathon-countdown-15-expert-race-week-tips_112345
  3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/467736-vitamin-c-for-joint-pain/
  4. http://www.runnersworld.com/tag/tapering