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Subject: racing at high altitude - advice needed rss

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Erik D
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I'm running a Spartan Beast (12-14 miles) at the end of October at Big Bear Lake (altitude - 7,000' base, 8,800' peak). I've never done anything at that kind of elevation before. I spent the first 35 years of my life on the east coast (50'-350') and currently live at my highest altitude of 870'.

Any advice on how to survive this? I'm not going to do a competitive pace - I want to survive it more than anything else. So far, the only plan I have to get acclimated is to show up the day before.
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Can you do any altitude training to get your body used to it? Even just spending a few long weekends somewhere jogging at altitude will help.

Regardless, start very slow on the day. Altitude hits you hard when you exert yourself so wind up slowly to your comfortable pace.

What else? Don't drink booze the night before, drink plenty of water, eat carbs, take a few isogels with you.
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Erik D
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sbszine wrote:
Can you do any altitude training to get your body used to it? Even just spending a few long weekends somewhere jogging at altitude will help.

Regardless, start very slow on the day. Altitude hits you hard when you exert yourself so wind up slowly to your comfortable pace.

What else? Don't drink booze the night before, drink plenty of water, eat carbs, take a few isogels with you.


I have Mt Wilson (5,700') in my backyard, but that would be more of a hike than a jog (though the race would be more of a hike than a jog as well). It's still pretty warm out here though and those trails have no shade to speak of.

As for the race, I usually hike the climbs and run the flats/descents, but I'll take your advice and keep a real easy pace early on until I get a better gauge of my performance.

I'll also keep a ton of Honey Stinger gels with me. I usually have one every 2 miles, but maybe I'll up the dosage.
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Justin Case
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erak wrote:
I have Mt Wilson (5,700') in my backyard....

How much time can you spend up on that mountain in the week before you do the race? Is there any way that you can camp out a few nights? Getting to the race site the day before will do you almost no good at all, but a couple of days on your nearby mountain, and a couple of nights if you can swing it, will do a lot. You don't even have to do anything much in the way of working out, and may even just fatigue your body as it's trying to manufacture bonus corpuscles -- the old adage of "live high, train low" applies. The more time you can spend on your mountain, and the higher you can spend that time, may help you a lot.

sbszine wrote:
Altitude hits you hard ....

This is so true, and there's no way to know how hard until you get there. Your overall fitness now will help a LOT, but you probably will still be surprised. I lived for years at sea level and made a sudden transition to 7250 feet, thinking I'd be fine because I was fit and active, doing a lot of running and such, and I was *not* prepared, mentally or physically!

Some other things you can do or know that may help: (1) take plenty of your #1 headache remedy, you are likely to get some incredible headaches; (2) get it in your mind now that you will *not* stand up quickly, and that you should probably hang on to something to brace yourself when you do stand up; I've seen absolute specimens of physical fitness wind up face down on the floor and bloody, passed out before they could even react, just getting out of a chair.

Good luck testing yourself in the event and getting to the finish line!


cool

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Jerry Martin
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I live at about 5,800 ft. In general it takes people about a month to really acclimate to the elevation. 1 Day is not going to be enough.
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Erak, there's a 5k run at Mt Wilson on the weekend! Maybe you could sign up and walk it, just to get an idea of how you cope with altitude.

https://www.mtwilson.edu/5k/
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Brian Morris
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I recommend you talk to your Doctor first. I grew up in the Central California Valley which is just about sea level. I spent a lot of time in the high Sierra Nevada camping as a kid and teenager though. Going from sea level to 8,000+ feet and doing strenuous activity is something I would do with caution. Especially if you aren't use to doing it.

The general rule is that over 8,000 feet is the level where people coming up from sea level can start suffering symptoms of altitude sickness. At the very least you should spend two days at altitude before you do something to the level of running and then be mindful of your body. Be aware of headaches (first sign your body is having issues with the altitude) and nausea. No alcohol first 48 hours at altitude and drink a good amount of water.

That's pretty much all I remember. I don't get to to go into the mountains in Kansas City. We tend to not have them here.
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Jeff
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Oh, wait, sorry - that's racing at low altitude. my bad!
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Dan Cristelli
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Go get your hematocrit levels checked - if your hematocrit levels are higher, you're not going to have as much trouble as others will. You will still want to follow all of the suggestions above, mind you, but it won't be quite as bad.

I grew up at ~550' and have lived at ~'350 for the past 15 years. Went to visit a friend in Utah a few years back and we hiked well above 10,000' for a couple days. I was no more winded out there than I am when I hike the 4,000' peaks here.

His wife is a doctor and explained that with my higher hematocrit levels I've got more red blood cells trucking oxygen around to the rest of my body. Therefore I don't get winded at altitude like I would with normal levels.

So not that this will help you prepare, exactly...but it will be good knowledge to have.
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I woukd.find a running forum and ask there.
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Erik D
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sbszine wrote:
Erak, there's a 5k run at Mt Wilson on the weekend! Maybe you could sign up and walk it, just to get an idea of how you cope with altitude.

https://www.mtwilson.edu/5k/


I'll have to start exploring that area to prepare! Funny, the observatory is only 6 miles from my house, but it's a 27 mile drive to get there.
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I have no idea what a mile is, but I am nodding sagely. Yes, yes, many miles.
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Erik D
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sbszine wrote:
I have no idea what a mile is, but I am nodding sagely. Yes, yes, many miles.


about 1.6km. So to translate, roughly 10km, but a 43km drive.
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Syvanis wrote:
I live at about 5,800 ft.


I live at the same elevation, and near Rocky Mountain National Park, which is between 7800 and 12,000.

The #1 reason I see people get sick when they get here is that they don't drink enough water. Drink a TON of water. Drink more water than you think you'll need. Drink until you're full of water, and then drink more water.


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Jerry Martin
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Look at that we are neighbors.

And you love Race for the Galaxy and Terra Mystica...friends?
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Scott Lewis
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Scott Firestone IV wrote:
Syvanis wrote:
I live at about 5,800 ft.


I live at the same elevation, and near Rocky Mountain National Park, which is between 7800 and 12,000.

The #1 reason I see people get sick when they get here is that they don't drink enough water. Drink a TON of water. Drink more water than you think you'll need. Drink until you're full of water, and then drink more water.



Then wash it all down with a nice glass of water!

I've lived in the Denver area all my life as well, and while I'm acclimated because of it, getting enough to drink is still key.
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Erik D
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Scott Firestone IV wrote:
Syvanis wrote:
I live at about 5,800 ft.


I live at the same elevation, and near Rocky Mountain National Park, which is between 7800 and 12,000.

The #1 reason I see people get sick when they get here is that they don't drink enough water. Drink a TON of water. Drink more water than you think you'll need. Drink until you're full of water, and then drink more water.




That shouldn't be a problem. I drink a ton of water as it is, and will have a camelbak on during the race.
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