Secure the [Gym] Bag: What to Pack in Your Fitness Carry-All

Photo: Mary Elizabeth Creative

Photo: Mary Elizabeth Creative

By Ashlee Lawson

As a freelancer, each day looks different to me. One day, I might have a whirlwind of calls, cross-town meetings and deadlines, and the next day, I could have relaxed time in my makeshift home office while knocking things off of my to-do list.

With a busy schedule like this, it’s important to stay ready with a well-stocked gym bag if I want to maintain some semblance of a running and workout regimen--no excuses.

On the days when I need to repack and restock my bag, there’s almost always something I need to add for when I’m on-the-go.

The Pre-Run Essentials


I burn really easily (despite this lovely melanin). To combat that, no matter if it’s sunny or overcast, I lather up with a medium SPF sunscreen. Currently in rotation is Neutrogena Skin Defense Water + Sun Barrier Lotion. It doesn’t leave a white residue or melt away when I sweat, and it smells great. Also, don’t think just because the season is switching over to fall that you no longer need sunscreen--you absolutely do, sis!


I used to wear hats religiously when I went out and hit the pavement. More recently, (the way #MyRunningHair is set up) hats don’t work for me anymore. I have a go-to pair of knock off Wayfarers that keeps the sun and glare out of my eyes so I can focus on my route and any upcoming obstacles.

On The Move


I don’t typically listen to music when I’m out on a solo run, but I do enjoy a good podcast. Some of my favorites right now are NPR’s TED Radio Hour and How I Built This as well as Side Hustle Pro. I find podcasts are a great way to stay focused through the miles and learn something new along the way. I need my headphones packed and ready to take in all this knowledge!

GPS Watch

I’m not sure how I survived so long without a GPS watch. As a runner, it’s really a game changer. I currently use the Garmin Forerunner 230. It’s a fairly basic watch, but does everything from track distance and mileage to connect to my heart rate monitor for race training. It’s also a lot easier than using an activity app on my phone to keep an eye on your pace and other stats.

Running Shoes

At the top of the list of essentials for anyone that is already a runner, or anyone that wants to get in on the action is a solid pair of running shoes. There are several different major brands and styles available where anyone can find what works for both their physiology and comfort. I’ve been wearing Under Armour HOVR Sonic for about a year now and I swear by them.


Post Run + Recovery


I’m notorious for finishing a run and going on about my day like I don’t need to replenish fluids lost through sweat during the workout. My answer to that, is a large water bottle. My fave at the moment is the UA Dominate. I try and get in three full bottles like this each day.

Stretch Out Strap

I’m also notoriously tight in my muscles, because I don’t stretch nearly as much as I should. I can’t say I use it all  the time, but after a stint in physical therapy, I’m trying to be much better at taking care of the muscles that are so good to me. The Stretch Out Strap gives me the additional support needed to get a deep post-run stretch in.


Because I live on-the-go so often, one of the most important items in my bag is a toiletry kit. Inside, you’ll find a couple Shower Pill body wipes that I use to wipe away any salt and grime, plus my favorite deodorant, Mitchum for Women, a good lotion and a lip moisturizer.


I try not to do things other than run in my running shoes. I find this helps my running shoes last longer and feel more comfortable during actual running. I always make sure to have my RUNGRL slides on deck to slip into afterwards.

You may not be quite as needy as I am when to comes to your running/gym bag. Just remember, whatever you do keep inside should allow you to feel confident going into your workout and prepared for any event, meeting or social occasion you might find yourself running to next.


*Note, the recommendations in this post are from authors’ own experience. Each person’s own results may vary. The preferred products are linked in this post as RUNGRL affiliate links.


Ashlee Lawson

Co-founder and CEO