My Loose Guide to Running a Self-Supported Trail 31-50 Miler

You should know what you’re getting yourself into, and embrace the fact that you need to expect the unexpected. These are things to consider when preparing for a self-supported 31-50 miler. I covered everything that came to mind and went into a few details. Putting your long run into motion is easier than it appears, it might take experience to get used to it and to know what all you need. Myself, I don’t put a lot of preparation into it, I make sure I have the essentials and a little extra food in my Jeep, just in case. – this is my style, and over the years of ultramarathons, I have become the same way with drop bags… or not even have one. Do what you are comfortable with and what works best for you because it is YOUR day of fun on the trails and you want it to be just that!


  • Make sure someone knows where you will be for the day.
  • Choose a place where you are at least somewhat familiar with the trail and it’s terrain.
  • Double check the weather forecast to ensure that it is not life threatening.
  • Carry the appropriate gear: layers of clothes, headlamp, whistle, bear bell, bear or pepper spray, etc…
  • Know what wildlife is in the area and what to do when you encounter it.
  • Cell phone and battery pack to charge it.
  • Enough food and water.
  • Sanitary wipes and or hand sanitizer for going to the bathroom in the woods or in case the park restrooms ran out of TP and soap.
  • Don’t lose your vehicle key. Stow it somewhere smart and safe.
  • GPS watch.
  • Knowing your body and limits.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. As a petite female, my biggest fear is being attacked by someone. I am strong, have a few safety plans, and God help the attacker if I can’t run away.
  • Dogs (leased and unleashed). Have a plan for a dog attack because people can’t control their dogs. A HUGE pet peeve of mine. I always slow down and if I can, run off of the trail to create more distance when passing a dog. Somehow, dogs still manage to jump and nip.
  • Be aware of hunting areas and where bright colors.

Aid station

  • Use your vehicle as an aid station and park it in a central area.
  • Another option is to drop bottled water ahead of time on the trail.
  • Have a cooler with ice or an ice pack to keep beverages and food cold.
  • Keeping your food and gear organized is beneficial. You know where everything is and can move quickly.
  • Use a trash bag. Leave no trace. Fast clean up once you’re done.
  • Paper towels, kleenex and wet wipes could be useful.
  • Favorite goodies and food.
  • Supplements, if you use them.
  • First aid, blister kit, runner’s stick, etc…
  • Appropriate extra clothing.
  • Clothes and shoes to change into when you’re finished.


  • It is helpful to have your route planned out and roughly know the mile markers ahead of time.
  • Use a trail map or screen shot a trail map for easy access on your phone. Mark where you parked. If you did water drops, those could also be marked.
  • Know the trail names.
  • Out and backs and looped trails surrounding your aid station work best.
  • 2-4 out and backs combo-ed with loops works well. – so this means 2-4 stops at your aid station throughout the day.
  • Sometimes it is better to tackle to longest trail section first.
  • Implement trail etiquette.
  • As you run, pay attention to signs and landmarks.
  • Do all of the usual trail tips (like picking up your feet) and trail safety tips.

That’s about all, have fun… happy running!

Screen shot of a map and marked where I parked
Trail magic
The best part

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