ATC 326: Running 14ers – Training, Nutrition and Altitude Advice, Uphill Racing Tactics, And Resuming Swimming Post-Shutdowns

April 9, 2021


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On this episode:

Peter asks:

Advice for running the 14ers:
Hey guys, Love the podcast!!!
I am training to run/hike all the 14ers in colorado this august in under 30 days. I am planning on doing a ton of MAF pace running and then lots of steep hiking at MAF pace as well. I’m currently doing about 15 miles per week and am starting to bump the mileage up each week. What else should I be doing for training? what kind of mileage running and or steep hiking should I be doing each week? I want to be able to finish the 14ers in good shape because I am also looking at attempting some FKT’s in the fall and hopefully a 50k race. Thanks!

What the coaches say:

  • One of the biggest challenges here will be the consistent stress from altitude for 30 days.
    • Because of this altitude stress, your nutrition needs to be spot on.
  • The range of altitude training is highly individualized because of genetics.
    • The first general range of adaptation occurs around 7,600 ft.
    • The second general range of adaptation occurs around 10,500/11,000 ft.
    • The third general range of adaptation occurs around 17,000 ft
  • For this particular case, you want to start getting up to at least 7,600 ft. Then you will want to get to 10,500/11,000 ft to prepare you well for the 14ers.
  • The things that will matter the most:
    • Your experience at altitude. Every time you reach a specific altitude, you decrease the amount of stress it has on your body.
    • Your nutrition at altitude. Be on top of your nutrition starting on Day 1.
  • When you come down and rest from elevation, you will need to focus on replenishing your glycogen stores; this is not a time to go low-carb.
    • For your body to metabolize fat, it takes about 20% more oxygen than it does for carbohydrates (i.e., if you eat almond butter, your body will need 20% more oxygen to metabolize that).
    • Practice having a good liquid calorie intake with an emphasis on heavy carbohydrates.
    • If you’re coming up to the top of the 14er, and you’re starting to feel really bad, a coke might be the best option. You don’t want to make your body do any more work than it is already doing at that altitude; you need something that doesn’t require any digestion.
  • Overall mileage doesn’t need to be high, but your ability to hike steep climbs and descend well is going to be extremely important. Bring poles!
    • Don’t worry too much about speed climbing; focus on downhills and muscular endurance.
  • Anton Krupicka 
  • Aim for 30 miles per week with an emphasis on hiking (see: Energetic of vertical kilometer for races; is steeper cheaper?). For example, run until your heart rate gets 10 beats over MAF then hike.
  • Article from Trail Runner Magazine by Brian Metzler
  • Topical magnesium and Perfect Aminos
  • Get out of altitude (preferably below 7,500 ft.) for recovery.
  • Strength training: Bulgarian split squats, lunges, plus anything that will target quad eccentric and hip extension. Also, tricep extensions and shoulder work for poles and packs.

Laura asks:

Help on Uphill race training
I am planning on doing a race on September 13th which is 2.86 miles and 1200 foot elevation gain. Currently I am trying to build my base running all MAF. What training can I add in to prepare for this race? And how do I incorporate it with my MAF training?
I don’t know that my specifics are relevant to this question but just in case. I am a 45 year old female and have been racing for 6 years. My best 5k was 25:28 minutes and that is the distance I race at almost all of the time. I have done one half marathon at 2:08. I like races with 100 feet elevation gain and find 200 feet to be more challenging slowing me down roughly 30 seconds a mile. My MAF pace is a 13 min/mile average with a little bit of walking to keep my heart rate down, and I have been sticking to flat ground in an attempt to get past the walking phase since I started MAF in January. I know it will be hard to run up that much elevation, my goal is to run the race and not have to walk much if at all. I am not sure what I can do to prepare and it somehow seems particularly at odds with MAF training.

What the coaches say:

  • Start with a base period of MAF.
  • Vertical climbing requires much more than good aerobic fitness. Strength will play a large role in vertical climbing.
  • The coaches are assuming you’re not using MAF on race day.
  • Focus on getting MAF pace a little better over the next month. Then start to incorporate hard hill strides (e.g., 5-10 second strides). If your race is at an 8% grade, use that as a minimum for the grade you will train on. You can train on a lower grade if you increase the intensity of the strides.
  • Start with a 5-10% grade – max effort; then start to increase the duration of strides.
  • Do longer runs on hilly courses.
  • Work on intervals at a higher heart rate, 1-2 times a week.
  • Work on “enjoyable effort.”
  • Keep it fun!

Gina asks:

Return to swimming?
After about a year away from the pool due to covid and closures, I’m finally ready and able to get back in the pool! Prior to the virus and shutdowns, I was swimming 2-3 times a week, training for triathlon (sprints, Olympic, and 1-2 70.3s a year) and my sessions would vary from 2k to 4k with all sorts of types of intensity (from LSD to sprints, drills, etc). I am a mediocre swimmer but love it. Since then I have done stretch cords, but not as consistent and swimming fitness is junk right now. What’s the best and safest way to get back to it to avoid overdoing it and causing an injury? (I’m super excited to get back in the pool and I know I’m going to have to hold back from doing too much too fast!)

What the coaches say:

  • Most injuries are preventable – don’t ignore what your body is telling you.
  • Don’t go all out!
  • Rotator cuff exercises with stretch cord – good to use as a prehab.
  • Don’t pull too much if your shoulders aren’t strong and durable; if you do pull, use a pull buoy and no hand paddles.
  • A good early base period for swimming: DRILLS. Do a lot of drills! A lot of kicking.
  • Make sure your first two weeks of swimming are capped out at 1k. An example of the first month back:
    • First and second week capped at 1k with drill focus
    • Third week 1500, but the volume added would include kicking and non-free
    • Fourth week 2k

One Comment

  • jeremiah roybal says:

    I love your podcasts and consume most of them. Episode 326 was driving me crazy as a Colorado native. Your guest who lives in Colorado and is giving advice on 14ers yet knows nothing about them. There are some rules for completing the 14ers. You cant just drive up to the top and hike the last 50 feet. You have to gain at least 3000 ft elevation for it to count. Also you were right at first there are 54 true 14ers. 4 of them do not drop the require elevation to the adjacent peak to be considered its own 14er. 58 peaks with 4 being unofficial peaks. gives you every single piece of information you would need for any 14er. To mention Anton’s site(which is great) as a reference and not just shows how much knowledge you have on Colorado mountains. Sorry just had to vent. Keep up the good work!

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