Advice for Vol State

I realized during my run tonight that Vol State is about 4 months away.  I thought I’d jot down a few words of advice to people who may be running it this year.  These are in no particular order.  Also I only had a 3 mile run to think about this so this is by no means an exhaustive list.

  1. Read race reports!  Like A LOT of them, including mine:).  You may not know the places they are talking about but you will learn tricks about how to get through the race.  Last year I just jotted down notes as I read all of them.  I thought about how I’d handle those situations.  Certain bad sections of the race will show up continually in race reports, heed their warnings.
  2. Your feet will hurt
  3. Get the GPX file of the course if you can.  I’d still carry a map in case your phone dies but I found it  much more convenient to use my phone since it was more accessible.  Buy the book and check for the updates on what stores, etc are still open.
  4. Train on roads.  I don’t care if you have a hilly trail race in May.  Start running roads now.  Your body needs time to get used to the camber of the road.  Your mind needs to get used to cars whizzing by, dogs running after you.
  5. Get your night time visualization plan figured out.  Either light yourself up like crazy or go totally dark.  I don’t care which but figure out what works for you.  You’ll find both plans are used during this race when you read the reports.
  6. Take an afternoon off work on the hottest days if you can and do a long run.  I ran probably 80% at night but you will get caught in the heat of the day at least once during the race even with great planning.
  7. Get a base tan going.  Sunscreen will come right off with sweat.
  8. Get a sun hat or something like that.  I just safety pinned a handkerchief to my visor to cover my ears and neck.
  9. Think about how you’ll sleep outside and try it out.
  10. Your feet will HURT!
  11. Bring extra socks so you can always dry one pair hanging on your pack while wearing the other pair.  I brought 2 different sizes as well since your feet will swell.
  12. Train with the gear you plan on using during the race!!!!!!!!!
  13. Watch MacGyver.  Or find a way to be more like MacGyver.  You will need those skills if you are running screwed.
  14. Put your feet up every time you stop.  Also take off your shoes so things dry out.
  15. There will be a point the second or early third day that will test your determination.  You will be slow and in pain.  I can’t tell you how to deal with it, everyone is different.  I learned I had to put my feet up for X amount of time every X hours to deal with it.
  16. Join the google group to keep in contact with people before and during the race.
  17. Join the facebook page.  Lots of locals post on there places that they leave out water, etc.
  18. Your feet will HURT!
  19. I took voice recorded notes during the race with my phone so I’d remember things later.  You may think you’ll never forget that one cool thing you saw on day 2 but you might.
  20. Help each other out.  Seems kind of obvious but I’m telling you, by the end of the race you will feel a closeness to all the other racers, even the ones you didn’t meet.  What I’m saying is they’re already your friends, you just don’t know it yet.
  21. Don’t talk about politics.  Even if you agree on stuff, you’ll get each other all worked up and distracted.  You can’t be distracted during this race.
  22. Again.  You can’t be distracted during this race!  There are cars filled with dipshits texting.  Don’t run side by side when there’s no shoulder, unless it’s the middle of the night with no traffic.
  23. Your feet will HURT!!!
  24. The detailed past results and lists of race reports are posted at   For each other year just change the 2016 to whatever year you want.  For example for 2014 results and race reports.  There are tabs on the bottom of the spreadsheet with the reports, etc.

With proper preparation and determination you will finish this race.  I truly believe that.  You have plenty of time to finish if you choose to use it.  You don’t need to be a super athlete or even an ultrarunner to finish this race.  Non ultrarunners have finished although they usually had a large amount of “preparation” in that they ran it with someone with lots of ultrarunning knowledge.  I consider training on roads and in heat to be included in the proper preparation.  Mostly though I consider preparation to mean knowing your gear, having a plan (even though you will change it during the race), use your brain, know your body, listen to your body on some things but also when to tell it to shut the hell up (your feet will HURT, expect it and deal with it).

Good Luck!

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