Ten-Minute Video: Team PAU @ 2020 IAU 6-Hour Global Virtual Solidarity Run


The International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) invited the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU), the National Ultramarathon Federation of the Philippines, to join the 2020 6-Hour Global Virtual Solidarity Run which was held last August 29-30, 2020. This event was attended by more than 40 member countries with a total of 426 athlete-runners throughout the world.

Team PAU was composed of 9 Male and 9 Female runners coming from the different regions of the country. Due to the Covid-19 Lockdown restrictions, all the runners were advised to do their running in their place of residence, whether on the outdoors or indoors (on treadmill machine). Team PAU represented the country in this event.

Here is the Video of Team PAU during the event:

Team PAU Video @ 2020 IAU 6-Hour Global Solidarity Run

Thank you for watching. Cheers!

(Note: Please subscribe to my You Tube Channel for more running adventures and stories in the Philippines. Thank you!)

2020 Virgin Money London Marathon Race Highlights


Months before the conduct of the 2020 London Marathon Race, it was announced that the scheduled April event will be held despite the Covid-19 pandemic situation and it will be held on October 4, Sunday, with the participation of selected world elite athletes coming from selected countries. Most significant in the announcement was the participation of the two of the fastest marathon finishers in the world: Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya who is the reigning world record holder in the marathon with a time of 2:01:39 hours in the 2018 Berlin Marathon and Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia who is the world record holder and Olympian record holder in the 10,000-meter event with a time of 26:17:53 minutes and second fastest time in the marathon with a time of 2:01:41 hours which he set in the 2019 Berlin Marathon, two-second slower than Kipchoge’s time.

Aside from the World’s Men’s Elite runners, the World’s Women’s Elite runners were invited to join the race. This is to include the Elite Marathon Runners from Great Britain. The rest of those who are supposed to participate and had been picked in the lottery to join the 2020 London Marathon had been asked to join in a virtual run and be able to complete the run within a period of 24 hours. Unfortunately, I registered for the third time in this marathon event and as usual, I was not been able to be picked up in the lottery.

In the months, weeks, and days before the London Marathon, there were so many information on the social media and printed media about this “duel” of the two fastest marathon runners in the world; Kipchoge and Bekele. With its hype, I tried to research on the Internet on the past competitions where these two great long distance runners had joined and competed with each other. Bekele was already a World and Olympic “Star” in the 2000s while Kipchoge was trailing behind him in the Oval Track Competition Races. However, during the 2010 and later years, both runners had shifted to road running on marathon races. Kipchoge started to shine and perform consistently in Marathon Races in Europe. However, Bekele had also his winning races on the road until he was sidelined with some injuries. Bekele is 38 years old while Kipchoge is 35 years old. But, these two runners had been always pushing the bar for the world record in marathon up to this time. The sub-2:02-hour time in the Marathon Race are being held by these two greatest runners in the world.

Kipchoge & Bekele Poster (From Google/Facebook)

In my past blog, I posted and predicted that Eliud Kipchoge will win over Kenenisa Bekele in the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon. However, I was still confident to predict that the winning time will be within the 2:02-2:03-hour range knowing how the place looks like when I had the chance to visit London in 2018. The London Marathon was held along the streets surrounding the St James Park near Buckingham Palace which is a loop-course covering a distance of 1.33 miles for each loop. Runners have to complete 19+ loops to finish the Marathon distance of 26.2 miles while is completely flat.

Two days before the race, Bekele announced to the media that he was withdrawing from the race because of an injury on his left calf muscle which he got two weeks before on a sprinting session. With this news, I was confident that Kipchoge would win the said race.

I watched the LIVE coverage of the London Marathon in the evening of Sunday, October 4, 2020 (Manila Time) after I found out that Brigid Kosgei of Kenya won the Women’s Championship with a time of 2:18:58 hours. She is the current Marathon World Record Holder with a time of 2:14:04 hours which she achieved in the 2019 Chicago Marathon Race. Worthy to note in the women’s race is the “sprint run” of  Sara Hall on the last 50 meters to pass Ruth Chepngetich to the finish line winning the race as the First Runner-Up in 2:22:01 hours. This is Sara Hall’s Personal Best in the Marathon.

Kitata & Kosgei: Overall Champion & Women’s Champion (Picture From Google)

On the last loop of the Marathon, Eliud Kipchoge could not react on the blistering pace of the faster runners and he did not win as I had predicted. Tola Shura Kitata of Ethiopia won as the Overall Champion of the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon with a time of 2:05:41 hours. He was the First Runner-Up in the 2018 London Marathon where Eliud Kipchoge won as the Champion. Eliud Kipchoge finished the race in 8th place with a time of 2:06:49 hours and he said in his post-race interview that his ears got blocked during the last loops that he could not concentrate and focus with his run. However, he was gentleman enough to accept the result of his performance. Kipchoge and Bekele will be back!

Thank you for reading. Have a good day and week ahead of us.

Covid-19 Situation In The Philippines (October 2, 2020)


As of October 2, 2020, after 201 days since Lockdown was declared in Metro Manila and to the rest of the country, a total of 316,678 confirmed cases were reported. For this day, there were 2,611 new confirmed cases. There were 56 deaths today and 416 recoveries. The country has now a total of 5,616 deaths and total recoveries of 254,617.

As more Covid-19 test centers and testing capability in key cities and local government units, there had been an increase in confirmed cases of positive to the Covid-19 virus. However, there is no additional data as to the number of asymptomatic cases as compared to the more serious cases which are being admitted in Covid-19 health facilities and quarantine areas with serious symptoms with the virus. Most of these asymptomatic cases prefer to be quarantined in their respective homes/residences. It is my personal belief that these new confirmed cases have their Covid-19 tests being reported or registered without knowing if they are asymptomatic with the Covid-19 virus or not. However, the data/tabulation below would show the number of Total Active Cases which is 56, 445. Just the same with the confirmed cases, it is hard to find out which of these cases are manifesting serious symptoms of the virus (and should be under the care of the hospitals and other health facilities focused on the treatment of such patients) and to those who are asymptomatic with the symptoms of the virus who are most likely on their own personal quarantine method or confined in their respective homes.

The tabulation below would show the total of 2,611 new covid-19 cases from the different places in Luzon and Visayas: NCR/Metro Manila; Cavite; Iloilo; Bulacan; and Rizal Provinces. Just the same with my personal observation, these new Covid-19 cases are combination of those asymptomatic and those with serious symptoms with the said virus.

In the context of World Statistics on the number of Covid-19 cases, the Philippines is now ranked #20 and ranked #1 among the Southeast Asian countries. The increase in the number of confirmed cases in the country could be attributed to the increase and aggressive conduct of “free” Covid-19 tests being conducted by key cities and local government units. From the slow progress and testing rate in the first 3 months of the Lockdown period from March 17, the country was able to speed-up its testing capabilities to the point that we are one of the top countries who have conducted testing to the populations. As of October 2, we have tested 3,800,150 persons, higher than Pakistan and Indonesia which have more than twice our population of 109 million+ persons.

As per percentage of deaths, the Philippines is scoring very low as compared with other countries. We have 51 deaths in every One Million in our population. Our total number of deaths of the latest report is 5,616.

After 201 days or almost 7 months of Lockdown or movement restrictions, I think we have to live with the Covid-19 virus within the country. We have learned a lot already about the virus and we should practice preventive methods and protocol like: wearing face masks; wearing of face shield; washing of hands with soap and/or alcohol; strictly observe social distancing (at least one meter apart from other people in public areas); no talking in enclosed areas; and proper ventilation in enclosed areas. Additionally, we have to boost our body immune system by exercising outdoors or indoors (running, biking, stretching, swimming, and other calisthenics exercises); exposing the body to natural sunlight, at least, one hour a day; eat healthy foods; hydrate or drink more water and fruit juices, and sleep at least 8 hours a day.

Always stay safe and healthy! Thank you for reading this blog!

(Note: Tabulations From Philippine Star & Department of Health)

 

Hiking With A Weighted Backpack


One of the training tips that my Coach had given me when I complained about my knee pains as a result of my long runs in the mountains is for me to try hiking into the mountains instead of doing my easy long runs there. However, he told me that I should carry a weighted backpack with me starting with 10-15 pounds for my first try or experience in hiking to the mountains. This workout of hiking with a weighted backpack should be done once a week.

This advice or tip was given to me way back last December 2019. It was good that I bought a North Face backpack which is made with thick material and does not have so many pockets or dividers inside it. I would use 2-liter bottles filled with water as the weight I would carry inside my backpack. Since then, I have been hiking with a weighted backpack once a week in going to the mountains for a hike of 3-4 hours and steadily progressed on making my backpack weight up to 25 pounds. Despite the fact that I would be enticed to run the downhills, I forced myself to be patient and slow on the downhills. On those hikes with weighted backpack for the past weeks and months, it gave me more strength on my legs and thus, I was able to finish my ultra trail races (local and international) since then up to the time Covid-19 Lockdown was imposed.

During the Lockdown period (past 4 months), I have been doing my daily runs in my Backyard Loop and I would be doing my hiking with a weighted backpack once a week. After I rested for one week of no running, I resumed my hiking with a weighted backpack yesterday with a reduced weight of 20 pounds. However, I did it in my Backyard Loop. After one mile, I started to perspire and after one hour, I was able to hike a distance of 3 miles.

Hiking With A Weighted Backpack

It was good to be back hiking with my weighted backpack again and I am eager to go back to the mountain trails in the coming days and weeks.

Thank you for reading!

 

Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) Challenge In 30 Days


When I was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Training and Education (G-8) for the whole Philippine Army in 1999 to 2000, I came up with a Command Directive that had been approved by the Commanding General of the Philippine Army for the strict implementation of the Army Physical Fitness Test where every personnel of the Command, to include all the Generals, to undergo the said test on a regular basis, for promotion, and other administrative movement to include application for schooling in the local and international training schools. Since its implementation, I was a witness of deaths of those who passed and failed in the said test, separation from the service, and non-promotion of officers and men of the Philippine Army. Because of this test, the Officers and Men of the Philippine Army were able to embrace the importance of a healthy body and mind. There had been studies made by the local medical practitioners on the validity of the Army Physical Fitness Test just to prove that the US Army Standards are not fitted to our local soldiers but after some adjustments of the standards, I personally still believe that the US Standards fit well to any person on earth. For one to be able to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test Standards, one has to prepare and train for it.

To prove my point, I asked a soldier in his mid-40s who failed in his first APFT to report to me every day for daily workout of the 3 exercises involved in the test. I asked the soldier to start doing at least 20 reps of push-ups, 20 reps of sit-ups, and run, jog and walk the 2-mile run. On a daily basis, the soldier was asked to increase the reps by one repetition every day and ask the soldier to run, at least, one hour everyday at an easy effort. After a month, I conducted a PFT on the said soldier. He was surprised that he finally got a score of 90%. He passed the 70% minimum score by getting a 90% score  after preparing for the test in one month. If that soldier who failed can improve within a month, it is possible that anybody who failed in the test could pass it with the proper training and preparation.

I know that the said Command Directive that I authored is still in place and being implemented right now by the Philippine Army. This is now one of the policies of the Philippine Army that is already institutionalized.

Now, after finishing an international and local Virtual Races during the period of 4 months of Lockdown due to Covid-19, I have been thinking of a running challenge or doing any physical challenge that will motivate me to do some exercises and running on a daily basis. I immediately thought of the APFT but to add challenge into it, I would do it on a daily basis, instead of the Quarterly Period (once in 3 months) which is the regular schedule for the conduct of the APFT in the Philippine Army.

So, on July 25, 2020, Saturday, I started my daily Army Physical Fitness Test Challenge In 30 Days. I have to make a video each of my daily APFT and have it uploaded in my You Tube Channel. Actually, I did the Video posted for my Day #1 on You Tube for a “teaser” on my APFT Challenge. On my first day, I did 21 reps of push-ups which is a passing score for my age; 29 reps on sit-ups (passed); and 28:13 minutes on the 2-mile run (failed!) in my Backyard Loop which is a single-track trail with lots of turns and uneven ground. The passing time/score for the 2-mile run for my age is 20 minutes.

The full instructions of the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) and Standards/Minimum Score could be seen here.

I hope to update my You Tube Channel with a Video on this Challenge every 6 days.

Thank you for watching this “teaser” video on the said Challenge.

Gilbert Gray: Finisher Of The 2020 “Last Annual Vol State” 500K Race (LAVS)


Gilbert Gray finishes the 2020 Last Annual Vol State 500K Race (LAVS 500) last week in 7 days, 19 hours, 40 minutes and 57 seconds which started on July 9, 2020 in Dorena Landing, Missouri, USA and with the Finish Line located in Castle Rock, Georgia. He finished this race without any support crew and  he registered for this race as Uncrewed or popularly known as “Screwed” runner. This is his second time to finish this race as a “screwed” runner where he improved his finish time by one day, from 204: 48+hours (or 8 days & 12 hours) in the 2015 Vol State Edition. In this year’s edition, out of the 66 runners who started the race, 49 runners finished the race and 17 runners declared as DNF.

The Last Annual Vol State 500K Road Run (LAVS 500K) is one of the road ultra races which is organized and directed by Lazarus Lake of Barkley Marathons, held during the summer months of July every year. One month before this race, another Ultra Race called The Last Annual Heart Of The South 500K Road Race (HOTS 500), was also held which is also organized and directed by Lazarus Lake. These road races usually traverse the State of Tennessee, USA from the western boundary with Missouri, USA or Arkansas, USA to the Northwest part of Georgia, USA. These two ultra races were held despite the Covid-19 situation in the USA. These two races had an identical number of starters which was 66 runners.

The LAVS 500K and HOTS 500K has a cut-off time of 10 days to finish where every runner has to inform the Race Director/Organizer on his/her location every 12 hours through SMS. Each runner does not carry any “tracker” along the way and there are support crew of the other runners who would update the location of the runners by posting pictures and videos on the Facebook Group Page of the event, this is to include the so-called “angels” along the route of the race. These “angels” are the ones that give voluntary aid or help to the runners in terms of allowing them to rest and eat in their front yard or in government/state facilities like Fire Stations and Parks.

Gilbert Gray, a Retired Airman in the US Air Force, lives in Maryland, USA and he is married to a Filipina Lady with two daughters. He now works with a US Airline Company. At 58 years old, he had finished a number of Ultra Races to include being the Overall Champion in one of the Ultra Races in Europe. He is a two-time BDM GrandSlam Awardee; Finisher of the Prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race; and a yearly Finisher of the JFK 50-Mile Race. You can see the Ultra Races that he finished here.

Although he comes regularly to the Philippines with his wife for a visit, the last time that we saw each other was in the 2014 edition of the Bryce 100-Mile Endurance Race in Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA, together with Paul Encarnacion, a Filipino Ultrarunner who also lives in Maryland, USA and multi-awarded 100-mile finisher. During his training for the 2013 edition of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race (WS100), he visited California to recon the route of the WS100 and then a day later, he joined me and other Pinoy Runners in the LA area in the 2013 edition of the Bandit 50K Ultra Trail Run where we finished at the same time.

Finishing The Bandit 50K Ultra Trail Run

Gilbert Gray With Badwater Ben Gaetos

Gilbert will always be a good friend of the local ultrarunners in the Philippines, most specially with the PAU runners. He is very kind, very helpful, and very simple and silent about his ultrarunning accomplishments. I just hope I would be able to meet him again in the future.

In our local races, PAU had also conducted its first 500K+ road race last June 2019 with the First Edition of the Manila To Pagudpud 580K Ultramarathon Race which had a cut-off time of 135 hours or 5 days and 15 hours. This race is officially considered as the longest road race in the country now. The result of this event could be seen here.

For additional reading about the the LAVS 500, you can read it here.

Pyramid Running Workout


I am not sure if I had been given by my CTS Coach to do a Pyramid Running Workout for the past 3 years. I was surprised to see in my weekly schedule that I was scheduled for this running workout last Wednesday. However, I missed doing the said workout on the scheduled date because my body was not feeling well to do an interval running workout as I have been experiencing some pain on my right knee for the past days. Instead, I just did an easy run for about two hours in my Backyard Loop on Wednesday.

Yesterday, Thursday, I decided to do the Pyramid Running Workout. The workout goes this way: warm-up for 20 minutes and then run with a Rating of Perceived Effort (RPE) of 8-9 for 2 minutes and then slow down for the next two minutes. After the recovery run of 2 minutes, start again for an RPE of 8-9 for 3 minutes and then slow down for 2 minutes. This is repeated until your fast run will be done to four and then five minutes with each rest interval of 2 minutes. From 5 minutes, go down to 4 minutes, rest in between for two minutes, until you do your last run in 2 minutes. So, in summary, I ran 2-3-4-5-4-3-2 minutes with a two-minute recovery run in between those fast repetitions. After which, I made a cool-down run for another one hour with 20-minute strides of 6 repetitions on the last 20 minutes of my run. In the said workout, I was able to cover a distance of 7.15 miles in 1:57 hours. I did this workout in my Backyard Loop which consists of a single-track trail.

Ten years ago, I was doing this workout in an oval track and I became a faster road runner in the process.

I did not have any problems with my knees during the run and I had a wonderful feeling after the said workout.

Taking Pictures of Flowers After Running

 

July 15, 2020: First Day Of The Great Maharlika Highway Virtual Run 3,517K


Two weeks ago, I have created a Facebook Group where interested persons or runners can join a virtual run/race which covers the distance of the Philippines’ Maharlika Highway’s 3,517 kilometers from Laoag City (Ilocos Norte, northern province of Luzon) down to the southern Mindanao City of Zamboanga. However, runners have the option to run in the reverse direction, from the Southern tip of the Highway up to the Northern City of Laoag. There is no required limit of distance or mileage that each runner can cover in a single day but I put up a Challenge that any runner can finish it in one year or in 365 days. As such, a runner should be able to run at least, 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles per day. For the slower or recreational runners, they have the option to finish the distance in 2 years or 730 days, with an average daily mileage of 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles a day.

Maharlika Highway 3,517K Poster On Facebook

To make the event more interesting, this event is FREE and anybody in the Social Media can join the said event by simply joining the Facebook Group Page that I have created. At this time, there are now 144 active members. Additionally, I have created an Event’s Club on Strava where anybody can post their Strava Data on the said Club and for their runs to be posted and each runner is ranked among the members of the Club. There are now more than 160 Strava Members who are part of this event.

I have only one objective in creating this virtual event—I just want people to be motivated to run each day during this present time as we deal with the Covid-19 situation that is happening worldwide.

Stay safe and stay healthy!

2018 Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail Race Photo Video


Hereunder is the Photo Video of my trip to Turkey to join/participate in the 2018 Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail Race which was held in October 2018. This training running event is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour Event. I have published a Race Report of this event in this blog.

Thank you for watching.

Repost: 90% of Badwater 135 Runners Finish By Jason Koop


badwater 135

90% of Badwater 135 runners finish. Here’s what they can teach you about preparation.

Head Coach of CTS Ultrarunning

By the time this newsletter hits your inbox, runners in the 2020 edition should have been testing themselves along the course of the Badwater 135, which many consider to be ‘the world’s toughest footrace’. Alas, in a very last-minute decision, organizers of the Badwater 135 cancelled this year’s edition, leaving this year’s field wondering what they could have accomplished with their fully formed fitness and heat acclimation strategies.

PHOTO ©ADVENTURECORPS, INC.

I have been fortunate enough to run and crew for the Badwater 135 a total of eight times, as well as prepare numerous runners for the event. All of these experiences have had an impression on me, and I am a better coach because of them. No other group of runners prepare quite as meticulously as the Badwater athletes do. The combination of the searing heat, mind numbing monotony of the road, the complexity of the application process and the exclusivity of getting an entry, the sheer expense of participating, and a relentless culture of improvement that has evolved over the years all combine to create what I observe to be the most prepared ultramarathon field on the planet. And the statistics bear this out. Badwater, despite the notoriously difficult conditions, has a finish rate of 85-90%. As a comparison, the Leadville Trail 100 hovers around a 50% finish rate for any given year, and the coveted Western States 100 has finish rates routinely between 70 and 80%. Make no mistake, the Badwater runners and their crews come fully prepared and bring it on race day.

Badwater is also one of the greatest hot environment sports performance proving grounds imageable. The searing heat will put your heat acclimation strategy to the test. Frequent access to your crew (your crew can leapfrog the runner in a support van) allows the runner to put cooling strategies and nutrition interventions in place without many logistical limitations. Being a crafty lot, Badwater runners have implemented an array of bizarre, sometimes effective and ultimately outlawed strategies in order to gain an advantage. Over the years I have seen everything from the use of refrigerated trucks to pacers on rollerblades with umbrellas (both of these strategies are now prohibited, by the way) to battle the heat. Still, the Badwater runners don’t always use the most efficacious strategies when it comes to heat acclimation and nutritional interventions. They tend to try to combat the challenges the course and environment will throw at them with contrived and combined strategies that at times are ineffective or even counterproductive. You might not ever have the urge to do the Badwater 135, but there are still some lessons we can all learn from the strategies this hearty group of ultrarunners use to battle the course and the heat, what actually works and how things go awry.

Heat Acclimation Strategies

Out of all the unique aspects in preparing for the Badwater 135, acclimating to the heat naturally gets the most attention. With temperatures that can be in excess of 120 degrees, runners rightfully approach this element of preparation with upmost importance. I first attended the Badwater 135 in 2006. When I arrived in Death Valley, I curiously took a straw poll of the participants to understand the heat acclimation strategies they used in training.

PHOTO ©ADVENTURECORPS, INC.

Over the years, either at the race of from afar, I have done the same straw polling and observed what the athletes were doing to prepare. I recently pulled my notes from these experiences and below is a short list of various protocols I’ve found, in no particular order:

  1. Running on a treadmill with a dryer vent blowing on your face. As a bonus, some runners would put portable heating elements round the treadmill for an added effect
  2. Running in the heat with a down jacket, pants and rain jacket
  3. Running on a treadmill in a greenhouse
  4. Running on a treadmill in the sauna. This normally involves cajoling the gym owner into some, shall we say, creative electrical engineering that may or may not pass a fire inspection
  5. If your gym owner was concerned about said electrical engineering, doing jumping jacks and core work in the sauna
  6. Driving around town with the heater turned up, perhaps with a down jacket
  7. Passive sauna exposure
  8. Camping in Death Valley in the weeks leading up to the event
  9. Turning up the heat in the house to > 90 degrees
  10. Some combination of some or all of the above with time frames that range from days to months

Although the complexity and duration of these protocols vary, they all can be catalogued into two broad categories: 1) passive acclimation/acclimatization strategies and 2) active acclimation/acclimatization strategies. Each have basic advantages and tradeoffs.

Passive strategies (strategies where you just sit there and let the environment do its job) allow for heat acclimation to occur with minimal interruption to training. They do not, however, allow you to ‘feel the heat’ while running, and many athletes feel the need to experience training in a hot environment before competing in one, simply to understand the sensation.

Active strategies (strategies that use a combination of exercises and environment) allow for heat acclimation to occur and for the athlete to feel the sensation of running in a hot environment. However, compared to Badwater, where the humidity is low and solar radiation is high, some of the contrived active strategies will be mismatched, particularly the overdressed ones that create a high humidity environment with little solar radiation. Additionally, active acclimation strategies involve some training compromise either by reducing the duration or intensity of the training session to accommodate for the increase in core temperature.

How Heat Acclimation Strategies Actually Work

Fundamentally, heat acclimation strategies work by inducing systemic and cellular responses to help your body cope with the heat. Systemically, your body responds (primarily) by increasing plasma volume and sweat rate in an effort to dissipate heat. Cellularly, your body upregulates heat shock proteins which act as cellular chaperones and managers for proteins that have been damaged by heat stress and other forms of degradation. Both systemic and cellular responses help athletes manage the heat in various ways, ultimately resulting in increased exercise capacity in the heat (and sometimes in temperate environments).

What has started to emerge in the research is that the extent of core temperature increase is critical to the success of the strategy. Heat up your body to a certain temperature and then hold that temperature for a certain amount of time and you get great results. Miss the mark on the temperature or duration and the physiological results are not as good. This critical core temperature, which appears to be in a very narrow range of 38-38.5 °C or 100.4-101.3 °F, is difficult to achieve and athletes will describe it as somewhere between ‘feeling hot’ to ‘too hot, dizzy and lightheaded’.

Through this lens, we can look at the aforementioned strategies from our (perhaps ill-fated) Badwater runners. Strategies that are capable of producing a core temperature of 38-38.5 °C will be markedly more effective than those that do not. Additionally, active acclimation strategies (strategies that involve running/cycling in the heat or overdressed) will most likely be hampered by compromising exercise intensity, as a high core temperature will limit the duration or intensity of running (how long can you run while being ‘dizzy and lightheaded’?).

heat acclimation strategies

The Best of Both Worlds

Many athletes now choose to use an ‘active-passive’ protocol, where they go out and do a normal run and then immediately jump into a sauna or hot water immersion bath. The initial run begins the process of increasing core temperate and the heat exposure from the bath or sauna finishes it off to achieve the critical temperature of 38-38.5 °C. In this way, training is not compromised and the sauna/hot water immersion bath session duration is reduced. If you really feel like you need to ‘feel the heat’ to experience the sensation of running in a particular environment, contrive the environment to try to match the temperature, solar intensity and humidity of your event as much as possible, and do so for the minimum number of sessions to do the trick. For the Badwater runners, a treadmill with a dryer vent blasting in your face a few times is a better option than running around in a down jacket for a month.

Hallucinations

whitney portal badwater 135

THE VIEW OF RACERS RUNNING INTO THE EVENING, FROM WHITNEY PORTAL.

Ultrarunning has been known to produce good hallucinations.  Sleep deprivation combined with physical exhaustion, bonking, and blurred vision is a ripe recipe for the mind to conjure up memories of distant past and teleport them into a fuzzy present.  And Badwater hallucinations are the best, by far. While your trail ultrarunning compatriots will brag about stories of a stick that turned into a snake, a tree stump that looked like a bear or a rock that talked, the Badwater hallucinations take this altered reality to a whole other dimension. The runners at Badwater encounter a cast of characters ranging from the Michelin Man to old 49er miners. Even the infamous white line painted on the road gets in on the action by transforming into various beings of and out of this world. Hallucinations come complete with incomprehensible background stories (the Michelin Man is there to run for President), unintelligible plot lines (I was helping the 49er change a tire), and bizarre interactions that border between a Star Wars movie and a DMT trip.

There is zero training for this. So, I have no help for you here other than to say if you really want an out of this world experience, just go run Badwater.

Too Much Aid Can Be a Bad Thing

One of the differentiating features of the Badwater 135 compared to other ultramarathons is that you have copious access to your crew and supplies. Food, water, pacers, your medical kit and the all-important performance enhancing ice, are never more than several minutes away. And, this level of assistance can be intensive. I once paced an athlete from Furnace Creek to Stovepipe wells, just a 24.6-mile section of the race, and blew through over 60 liters (15.8 gallons) of ice water in the process of drinking and dousing. And while it might seem like a luxury to have your every ultrarunning need fulfilled at a moment’s notice, at times it can be a bad thing.  Runners can take on too much fluid and too many calories, particularly in the beginning of the race, simply because they are there. And later they lean on their crews to bail them out of a situation when they could simply just put their head down and run.

Remember that when you are training, you are doing the vast majority of it by yourself. Almost any racing situation involves many times more support than you would receive during any training session. And Badwater is an extreme example of this. While ultrarunners should learn to leverage their crews, pacers and other support personnel, they should not rely on them to get the job done. You don’t need pacers or crew to get the job done (in most ultras). Do they help, yes. But, running is ultimately the responsibility of the runner.

Badwater will be back

Like many of the races that couldn’t happen this year, Badwater will ultimately be back. I look forward to returning in some capacity, as an athlete, coach or crew. I simultaneously learn and get a chuckle out of many of the strategies athletes use to prepare for the event. I love hearing stories of how many layers of clothing athletes put on for a simple training run and how Kermit the Frog ran alongside athletes in the middle of the night during the race. Soon enough, we will get to experience or hear about all of these again. Until then, we can learn for the next time.

References-

Gibson, Oliver R et al. “Heat alleviation strategies for athletic performance: A review and practitioner guidelines.” Temperature (Austin, Tex.) vol. 7,1 3-36. 12 Oct. 2019, doi:10.1080/23328940.2019.1666624