Vermont 100-Planning and Mental Preparation

By Lindsay Simpson, The Run Formula Coach

It’s now less than a month away from the big day. You’re training your body for the huge challenge ahead. You’re running the miles, doing the core and strength work, practicing technical trails, and getting in lots of hill climbing and descending. And of course you’re practicing your hydration and fueling to prepare your digestive system. As you move into the taper phase of training, this is a good time to sharpen your plans and mental state for completing VT 100.

Here are a few specifics:

Study the course profile and aid stations.

As you may know, the course is almost 70% rolling dirt road and about 30% trails, with a teensy bit of paved road thrown in. Overall, you’ll cover about 17,000 ft of elevation gain, and loss. If we do the math, that’s about 170 ft of climbing per mile. This is a good ratio of miles to elevation that you can match during training. So a 50 mile run week should also aim to cover about 8-9,000 ft of climbing and descending. A couple other notes about the course. Notice also that the first 25 miles are relatively easy compared with miles 60-85.

A good fact to realize now, so it isn’t a nasty surprise when you’re many hours in and very fatigued. Secondly, there are 25 aid stations for the 100 mile event. The longest runners will go between aid stations is only 5 miles. This is a massive help out there; and can be a big time suck.

Spending just 2.5 minutes at each aid station will add up to a full hour on course. You don’t necessarily have to stop at every aid station. If you have crew and/or pacers, be sure to review the aid station list with them and discuss when and what you might want for support.

Prepare your mental mantras and strategies.

Our visions of success keep us motivated and engaged through the long months of training and through the challenges of race day. Maybe you want to run faster than last year? Will you be chasing that large sub-24 hour finish belt buckle? Or perhaps you are excited to cross under that beautiful finish line in the woods? (For more on goal setting, check out Jack’s blog here.) Regardless of your finish goal, it’s inevitable that you’ll experience physical, mental and emotional highs and lows at different points throughout the event.

To handle these tough moments with grit and grace, you’ll need a prepared list of strategies that help you continuously tune your mind to the positivity channel. Prepare in advance by rehearsing a powerful, simple mantra such as “Strong mind, strong body” or “I’m tougher than this hill”. Think deeply about why you’re tackling this goal. Your “why” is a powerful tool to call on when you encounter a rough patch. Another useful strategy is simply counting – foot steps, cows, or other external stimuli that distract your brain from pain. For more on mental strategies, check out Deena Kastors’ new book “Let Your Mind Run”.


Be ready to solve problems.

You can plan and plan and plan, and the unexpected is still going to happen on race day – especially in an event this long. The best predictor of your success is going to be your mental flexibility and willingness to problem solve. This race has 30 years of history and countless helpful people on course; including aid station volunteers, veteran runners, medical professionals and your loved ones. When you find yourself in the thick of an unforeseen challenge, ask for help. Chances are someone else out there has experienced the same issue and can guide you to a solution.

We all want to see you at the finish line.

Thanks again to THE RUN FORMULA for providing us with these training tips!

The Run Formula

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