Altitude Sickness, Column

Beast or Ultra?

I always know I have flipped back into ketosis (fat burning metabolism) when I wake up in the middle of the night with hot skin and high energy. It always happens when the switch flips, and then you sleep like a baby every night after that. I am glad to finally have eaten steak, eggs, and bacon for enough days in a row to have clicked over. Aerobic exercise is much easier when you use 30 percent less oxygen.
I remember last year when I was trudging through the Spartan Ultra, grinding out those hills, thinking “I trained for this all wrong. What I should have done is just hiked up and down Superstar in my weighted vest.”
So, since Superstar has been mowed, I have moved my training to Superstar for the last few weeks before the event. My hip has been enough of a bother that I am unsure if I will race this year (and if I do, it might just be the Beast, and not the Ultra). Even if I do race, it is unlikely that I will be in 30-mile shape. Between my hip and the tendonitis in my right arm (it’s been there since I pulled a muscle putting a speaker away in my trailer when I was on tour in 2011), it takes some effort to train. The thing is, it feels better when I train.
When I started to come back to Superstar, I started with one lap (under 45 minutes), and the next day knocked out two laps (1 hour, 25 minutes). My hip started feeling pretty great, but my kneecap bursitis started acting up—the downhill on Superstar is harsh. So I started wearing my open patella neoprene braces (ACE actually makes a really good removable one with Velcro straps) which solves my patella issue, but blisters the backs of my knees … training is starting to feel like a game of whack-a mole.
I have also fully blown out the netting on the sides of my old trail running sneakers, and while there are no actual holes in the sneakers, all of the stability is gone, so I need to buy a new pair (forgot to do it while I was in Burlington today, whoops). So, while I am being extra cautious about the foot placement during the down climb, I have at least remembered to take my own advice about how to train for these events.
The obstacles weren’t really an issue, and I am in far better pull-up shape this year than I was last year. I was worried about burpees, but after hearing that a friend of mine was doing 100 burpees a day (spread out over the day), I set some bacon to cooking, and knocked out 100 burpees before the bacon was out of the oven (sets of 15, and one set of 10), so that isn’t a concern either.
My main problems last year were: nausea from rolling under barbed wire (this year I will crawl); and leg fatigue from climbing and climbing during weighed carries.
Superstar with a 40-pound vest should take care of this issue. My only other concern is if I will be able to put one foot in front of the other for enough miles to do an Ultra. I know that I can do a Beast right now. If I got up tomorrow morning, I could do a Beast on an empty stomach. All I need to finish that event is water. I don’t even need electrolytes.
After 15 miles, things change. At the break I would drink raw eggs, pickle juice, and probably some electrolytes a few miles later. It is important to keep to easily digested liquids though, as they stay in the stomach far less time.
Last year I did several seven-hour runs in the months coming up on the Ultra. But I also ran myself into the ground. I am wondering if it is possible to knock out one big 22-30 mile run a week before the event, and then just keep climbing until a couple of days beforehand. The story is, I haven’t done the distances this year that I feel that I need to, but then again, my hip seems to be magically getting better leading up to the event, and when I do long runs by myself, I never seem to have enough water (whereas at events I can pound water every six miles—I did the Ultra without really touching my bladder pack, and I never got even the shadow of a cramp), and cramp really badly. If I knock out a long run I will need to go back to my car frequently both to fill my bladder pack and to guzzle water like it is my job.
I might just show up for the Ultra, and then see how I feel at the break. Last year coming up to the last set of barbed wire in the first lap, I felt like I could carry a truck up a set of stairs, but then I rolled under the wire and got so sick that I lost three hours to lying on the ground in fits of nausea (other competitors literally called me “nausea guy”).
I’m not sure.

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