Just Get to the Next Aid Station

Nothing too exciting in the URC household in the past day. I had a ginormous plate of vegetables and beans for part of my dinner last night before heading off to a meeting.

Dinner Jan 16

And a little more strength training and working on my injury prone areas this morning.

Em workout Jan 16

I want to jump right in and address a question that we get asked by pretty much everyone that we meet, once they find out about our running. How do you keep yourself going through a race that you know will last for 20+ hours? This is different to us then the question of what motivates us, which we addressed in this post last week. Motivation is a bigger question of what keeps us inspired to get out every day, to keep training, to keep pushing for the next race, and to keep trying during a race no matter what ideas of stopping may pop into our heads. What keeps us going is a question that truly cuts to the core of what ultra running is about. The answer for us? We break it down. We are always just thinking about getting to the next aid station (or crew stop if the race is unaided). For non-ultra runners out there, aid stations in an ultra are typically spaced about every 5-10 miles along the course and often consist of a tent with tables of ultra runner type foods, including PB sandwiches, cookies, bars, fruit, chips, pretzels, sports drinks, soda, and even hot foods such as soup and grilled cheese sandwiches at night. The aid station also typically has chairs in case you want to put your feet up for a minute and it has some first aid items, in case you are struggling with blisters, chafing, and other common ultra running ailments. If the race is unaided, meaning the race sponsors do not provide aid stations, then the race will typically allow you to bring your own support in the form of crew members who are permitted to meet you at certain points along the course in order to provide the food, drinks, and first aid items that may be needed. Here is a picture of the Keys 100 in 2010 and this is a treasured moment in which our crew (which consisted of my awesome Daddy) met us after 7 Mile Bridge with some Burger King chicken nuggets. We were in heaven.

40 mile marker

On our run yesterday, I was thinking about the simple concept of “just get to the next aid station” and how it has helped us through so many races, yet how it so easily translates to life, too.

Since we run first thing in the morning and don’t listen to music while we run, I tend to have a lot of time to contemplate my day. I found myself getting overwhelmed yesterday with all that I need to get done before heading out to vacation. I thought about the meetings I needed to have at work and preparing my team for my absence. I thought about all the packing that we need to do and how we need to make sure that we bring all the appropriate running items. I even started thinking about how much work we would have to do when we get back just to catch up from two weeks away. Finally, I told myself to “STOP IT!” What is the point of vacation if you are just going to worry leading up to it and then stress about your return? You can handle this Emily! Just get to the next aid station! Obviously, there was not a true aid station along our 7 mile run yesterday, but what I meant was that I didn’t need to be feeling like I had to accomplish everything at once. For that moment, all I needed to do was to finish the run without falling on the ice. Then, I would take on each part of my work day and cover as much as possible for the day. Next, I would make a list of all we need to pack. Small steps…one aid station at a time.

Part of the joy of aid stations is a chance to relax for a second, regroup, and remember your mission. Here is a picture of us at a crew stop along the course in the Badwater 135. In the midst of the 125 degree temps, we took a moment to put our feet up, rap out to our favorite Black Street jam, and mentally prepare for the next section of the race. 

Van Crew Final Hill Night Outside DVNP
Our good friends and crew members, Mandy & Andrew, are wondering how much longer this is going to take us.

So I challenge you today to think about your next goal, your next obstacle, or even the day ahead with a “next aid station” mindset. What can you do to split up the seemingly overwhelming tasks ahead? Do you need to call in some crew for support? Do you need a pacer to actually come and run alongside you for a spell? Is your aid station fully stocked with the things you need to mentally and physically regroup?


We hope this word finds you well and helps you to look confidently and postively into your Thursday!  

What steps do you take when you are starting to feel overwhelmed?

What aid station supplies help you to regroup and recharge?

What did you eat for din-din last night?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Priscilla says:

    Excellent post Emily. Applies to Everyone!


    1. Great! Thank you for letting us know you found it useful.


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