Welcome to a series on Another Mother Runner: Race Day Essentials.

Over the course of the next two weeks, we’ll showcase favorite gear from a range of athletes for the 5K/10K; half-marathon; marathon; ultra (50K/50 mile); sprint triathlon; and relay.

Kicking us off today is Pam Harris, a BAMRbassador based in Atlanta who goes through her essential gear for 5Ks, a race distance that both welcomes and challenges her. “One reason I love racing the 5K is that I still haven’t gotten it quite right; mastery of that distance remains more elusive to me than any other I’ve tried,” she says.

She has mastered her gear, though, and here it is:

TOPS: Putting the BAM in BAMR (unavailable) + Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Singlet ($65; sizes XS-L)

My very favorite running shirt for any distance is the old school “Putting the BAM! in BAMR” tank. It is light and comfy, and it reminds me that I’m one badass runner surrounded by a community of fellow badass women runners. That shirt is currently not available in the Mother Runner Store, so I wanted to share my other favorite 5k racing top as well: the Tracksmith Van Courtlandt singlet. The brand itself is associated with the amateur badass, and the mesh singlet is cool and comfy. I raced in it on the Fourth of July in Atlanta, and it was dry 15 minutes after the race!

SPORTS BRA: C9 Champion Women’s Power Core Compression Medium Support Sports Bra ($16.99; sizes XS-XXL)

My negligible, nearly-AA boobage allows me the freedom to choose sports bras based on cuteness rather than coverage, and my current fave is the C9 Power Core Compression in purple and blue tie-dye. It is cute and functional: the compression fabric squishes the girls just enough, and the perforated cleavage area help with the inevitable boob sweat. (Yes, your smaller-chested sisters suffer from that, too!)


Bottoms: Oiselle OG Distance Shorts ($54; sizes 2-12) + Oiselle Pocket Jogger Tights ($56 on sale; sizes 2-14)

My current favorite shorts for the 5K and for track workouts are the Oiselle OG Distance Shorts. They are so light I barely know I’m wearing any shorts; the inseam is long enough to eliminate any chub rub; and they have TWO zipper pockets, perfect for carrying a phone, ID, and house key. Bonus: although my pair are light in color, they have a built-in liner, so I don’t need to compromise my commando values!

On those rare occasions (sorry, northerners!) it’s cold enough to warrant full-coverage downstairs, I switch it up to the Oiselle Pocket Jogger Tights. As the name suggests, they have pockets galore, and the mesh panes behind the knees keep me from getting too toasty in what passes for winter down here.

Shoes + Socks: Brooks Launch ($100; sizes 5-12) + Stance Barista Light Tab ($14; sizes S-M)

No matter what other brands I try, I always end up in a Brooks shoe! I’ve been running in the Brooks Launch since last year, and I love the roomy toe box (my sister has made fun of my oversized big toes my whole life!) and the springy ride. They are the Baby Bear of shoes: Not too cushiony; not too minimalist; they are JUST RIGHT!

The Stance socks, on the other hand, are minimalist with just the slightest cushioning in the arch. They’re not my favorite for longer distances, but they’re perfect for a short race. Bonus: this pair was designed by Lauren Fleshman, one of my running idols and guest on an upcoming AMR podcast!


MUST-HAVE GADGETS: COROS Apex ($350) + Aftershokz Trekz Air ($119.95) + BibBoards ($9.95)

The COROS Apex is perfect for everyday wear, easy runs, workouts, and RACING! I have the data screens set up so that I can see pace and distance or, if that’s messing with my mental game, lap time and total time elapsed. I think you can set it up to yell at you if you slow down too much, but  I’m trying to stay away from those functions. (I’m trying to stay open to what the day will bring.) Post-race, I can dig as deep into the data as I care to on the COROS app, and it also automatically uploads workouts to my Strava so I can chase after those stupid little challenge badges I’m obsessed with!

While I prefer to listen to podcasts on slow runs, there’s a RUN FASTER playlist on my iPhone solely for use in races or super hard workouts. It consists of fast-paced songs like “Highway to the Danger Zone” (perfect for my upcoming 5K on the 5th Runway at the Atlanta airport!) and a punk rock cover of “Over the Rainbow.” My Aftershokz Trekz Air allow me to listen to the playlist AND the race director’s instructions. Plus, they don’t get in the way of hats or sunglasses. Finally, my favorite AMR BibBoards keep my race number attached to my shirt without poking holes.

HEADGEAR: BoCo Gear Badass Mother Runner Trucker Hat ($25) + ROKA Cambridge Performance Sunglasses ($170)

What’s not to love about the BoCo Gear Badass Mother Runner Trucker Hat? It sits above the forehead, which, combined with the mesh fabric, helps keep my head cool(er); the generous brim helps keep the sun off my face; and it has a SWEAR WORD on it, which warms the cockles of my little rebel heart.

ROKA sunglasses are ridiculously lightweight but don’t move in the slightest, no matter how fast you run. They are also far less likely to steam up from the humidity than other brands I’ve tried. My current style is their newest release, the Cambridge, and I’m trying desperately to keep myself off of their site for just one more pair!


Pre-Race Breakfast: Nuun Sport ($7; get 20% off with code AMRHydrate)+ English Muffin with PB!

English muffins topped with peanut butter with a side of Nuun Sport get me carbed up, filled up, hydrated, and ready to go! Depending on the state of my pre-race, nervous tummy, I’ll have some iced coffee as well. Depending on when I woke up, I’ll either have half or a full muffin. It’s unlikely I’ll need to hydrate mid-5K, but I want to make sure I keep on top of my hydration at all times, so I do make sure to drink the Nuun beforehand.

GRIT (priceless)

I keep these three post-it notes stuck to my monitor at work. The first reads, “Pain = Game On” and “DEFINE YOURSELF,” words of wisdom from GOAT American distance runner Deena Kastor during a Many Happy Miles webinar.

The next is a quotation from Bill Bowerman, founder of the Bowerman Track Club (Shalane Flanagan’s team), posted on social media by sports psychologist par excellence Justin Ross: “You redeem yourself with every honest, killing effort. You might not win, but you will have been brave. If you can admit that to yourself, bravery is a hell of a thing to build on.”

My fellow BAMRbassador Tricia shared the final quotation with me: “If we are only ever focused on the now – what’s happening in this moment – that is such an incredibly useful skill to have. It takes the pressure off completely, because all we are interested in is applying ourselves fully to that moment.”

I have big goals, and I haven’t met them—YET. The challenge of training keeps me excited and engaged. These words of wisdom and encouragement remind me why I do what I do; give me hope for the future; keep me strong and focused; and they pick me up when I fall.

The 5K is HARD, but that is why I pursue it.

What are your gear essentials for a 5k or a 10k?