We are often asked what it is like to run in the mountains. The easiest way to explain this is to suggest you watch this film which encapsulates the experience of running along stunning mountain trails high above the valley of Chamonix, France. Chamonix is often referred to as the world capital of 'alpine mountaineering', but is fast gaining a reputation as a major trail running destination. The sensation of running through alpine meadows, taking in stunning views, while enjoying the physical sensation of running 'free' is not to be missed.
Most of us like achieving a challenge, be it big or small. As a runner much of the time the goal is centred around a time, pace or distance. However for a mountain marathon there is a lot more to consider. In 2009 I wanted to run the Everest Marathon, and the main goals for this event is to reach Everest Basecamp healthy and acclimitised.
Read my top tips on trail running at altitude some of which are featured in this months 'Trail Running Magazine' attached.
Everest Marathon Race Tips - Leave home healthy & well rested. Being run down or overtrained before you leave home will mean you are more likely to pick up a bug in the plane or in country.
- Sleeping at altitude is not always easy especially with the change in diet, water, medication you might be taking and being under canvas. Another reason to stock up on the Zzz's before leaving home.
- Time on your feet, hill walking & running off road, especially downhill is more important for this race than fast road training or intervals.
- Know the route profile. Be aware that the course route may change slightly from year to year. The Everest Marathon normally starts at over 5000m dropping to 3440m for the finish line, again practice descending however don't go off too fast you still have 26 miles to cover. If you over cook it not only will you hit the wall but you you will feel the altitude all the way. Acclimitisation is key to enjoyment and performance.
- Gain some understanding on high altitude illnesses and respect the basic protocols. Regardless of how fit/fast you may be in races ascend slowly, take on plenty of fluid and don't get the urge to race your way to the start line.
- Know what food/drink is provided already during the race, where the refreshment points come (i.e. distances) and decide whether you need to carry anything extra. Stock up on your favourite race snacks and training foods from home. The morning of a race - aim to finish breakfast 2 hours before the race start to allow yourself to digest it. Eat what you know works well for you - eg, porridge, bread and honey etc. Aim to finish taking on fluids about 45mins prior to the start. Learning to run on what feels like ‚empty’ puts a spring into your step!
- Know whether the race has any obligatory equipment and be happy with what you will need to use - practice with it.
- Don't drop any litter along the way, respect the delicate surrounding of the Khumbu Valley.
MOST OF ALL - Have the confidence that you will go the distance and most importantly enjoy this fabulous event ..... after all isn’t that is why you are running?