Every year teams of runners ascend to Flagstaff, Arizona for its many soft trails and ultra thin air. Americans, Canadians, Germans, Australians, Swedes, you name it, they are here. And while we all represent different teams and countries, for the few weeks we spend up here, we share the same trails, tracks, gyms, coffee shops and restaurants. It’s a unique atmosphere and there is a certain type of comfort seeing other runners from all over the world coming to the same place to do the same thing and chase the same goals. Later in the season these same people will be our competitors, but while up here the atmosphere is relaxed and everyone is on the same page.
This is my second stint at altitude and I already seem to be acclimatizing a little bit better this time around. Maybe it’s because I know what to expect, or maybe it’s because I came into camp a little more rested. The experts will say that your body adjusts faster the more time you spend at altitude. Whatever the reason, the first few runs have felt better and I seem to be surviving a little better on the hills this time around.
I’m actually a bit shocked I even made it to Flagstaff. After the up and down last couple of months I’ve had I had almost written off going to altitude. Even last week I hadn’t put too much thought into the trip. However, after seeing another Cardiologist late last week, where I did and passed a Cardiac Stress Test, I was cleared to continue training and to go to altitude. Two days later I was on a plane headed South.
So far it’s been a great move! It’s great to be back with my Speed River teammates, Alex Genest, Taylor Milne, Kyle Boorsma, Rachel Aubrey, Chantelle Groenewoud and Andrea Seccafien. After doing much of my running on my own it’s great to have some training partners and to spend time with some really good friends.
The first few days at altitude are all about acclimatization, this means running a little bit easier on runs and making sure you are recovering as much as possible between runs. No matter how easy you go the altitude still gets to you and after being up here for three days I’m starting to feel its effects… but I guess that is the point!
My goal for the next 3.5 weeks is to not only get in a great block of training, but more importantly I just want to get back to enjoying running. The last couple of months have been nothing but doctors appointments and stress and that took a toll on both my love for running as well as my hairline ;). Hopefully after a few weeks of good training I’ll return to sea level with a renewed confidence in myself and motivation for the training and racing to come.
A few shots from a hike we did earlier this week: