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Summit Stories: Altitude Community Adventures from Around the World

Summit Stories: Altitude Community Adventures from Around the World

Welcome to our Summit Stories series, where we feature stories about your expeditions from around the world. From trekking in remote destinations, to practicing extreme sports in outdoor adventure spots, to summiting some of the highest peaks on the planet – our Altitude community has done some pretty cool things. Scroll through and click to check out some awesome places, get inspiration for your next active trip and learn about the achievements of our remarkable community of everyday athletes.


 

Click on the posts to read more…

 

Rowing and Hiking in BC – by Kayla

I started rowing in my first year of university and instantly fell in love with it. As an outdoor adventurer, athlete, and water lover the sport just seemed a natural fit. Over the past two years, I started taking the sport more seriously and started training several times a week with the intention of competing […]

60 Days of Kayaking/Camping in Yukon and Alaska – By Kellen

My biggest achievement to date was in the Summer of 2018 when I completed a sixty-day kayak trip with my father and two friends. Looking back, it is almost a blur. The days seemed to blend together as one. However, its funny, if you brought up one specific event on any day, I will remember it as if it was yesterday…

Road Cycling in Mallorca – By Kellen

Mallorca has now become another yearly event for my family and I. My personal favorite spot to visit, Mallorca, is an island part of Spain situated in the Mediterranean, just east of the Spanish mainland.  Mallorca is a gorgeous yet rugged island full of all sorts of terrain. My first ever cycling trip was in Mallorca and I was nowhere near prepared for the level of fitness required to get through these stages….

Alpine Touring in British Columbia – By Kellen

Lake O’Hara is situated in Yoho National Park just west of Lake Louise, AB. Lake O’Hara has been somewhat of a yearly excursion for our family. We tend to plan our week to visit in Mid-February. Temperatures may reach as low as -35 degrees Celsius at the lodge making this trip not only difficult in nature but also a real test of character. My father, Brian has been going up there since he was my age (23) and introduced me to the experience when I was as young as six years old…

Hiking in Slovenia – By Jessica

Just a little over a year ago I took a spontaneous trip with one of my closest friends, Emily. I flew from London to meet her in Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. I didn’t know much about Slovenia beforehand but was eager to explore! One of our most memorable days in Ljubljana was our hike around beautiful Lake Bled and the Ojstrica and Osojnica hills…

 

 

Pico da Ibituruna – An Adventure Spot in Brazil You Should Check Out

Pico da Ibituruna – An Adventure Spot in Brazil You Should Check Out

Outdoor sports and adventure travel fans all know about the popular go-to destinations. Mountain biking? Head to the Alps. Trekking? Try New Zealand or the Inca Trail in Peru. Rock Climbing? The national parks of the US never let us down.

One place you may not have heard of for adventure sports is in the mountainous state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. Pico da Ibituruna is a national park and mountain that can be found on the banks of the Doce River and hovers over the city of Governador Valadares.

The adventure sport options you’ll find there are numerous – from hiking and mountain biking, to climbing, abseiling and gliding. And the stunning green landscape is a great backdrop as you get your adrenaline rush.

To get to the beautiful views though, you need to first overcome the 17 km climb. And with a summit rising 1123 meters above sea level, the climb up Pico da Ibituruna – Pico – is a reasonably challenging one. Let’s look at what makes that climb worth-it:

1) Free Flight:

Pico da Ibituruna is one of the best places to practice free flight. Thousands of enthusiasts come here from all over the world, dotting the sky with the colours of hang gliders and paragliders. The site has a free-access flight ramp, but does not offer instructors or equipment. So, if you are going to Pico with the intention of flying, you need to go with your own equipment, with an instructor or look for companies that offer this service in Governador Valadares.

2) Hiking:

Apart from the climb up to the summit, which is a couple hours’ hike along a marked trail, you can also get your hiking fix at Vale Silvestre. This is an ecological park found on the return from Pico that offers trails for all-levels. There’s even activities such as kayaking available there if you want to keep your heart rate up and try something a little bit different!

3) Climbing and Abseiling:

Pico also offers some of the best climbing and abseiling in Brazil. The best known trails are Via do Ralf and Via do Catão, both about 400 meters high. To get down, the most popular trails are Rapel da Santa and Rapel do Mirante.

4) Zipline:

Looking for another way down the mountain? Try ziplining. This options offers quite the adrenaline rush and one one of the most incredible ways to enjoy the landscape, second only to free flight.

5) Mountain Biking:

You can also boost your adrenaline (and your quad muscles) on the numerous mountain bike trails. The mountain descent from Pico da Ibituruna is one of the most challenging in Brazil, so remember to be very careful!

Bike Buying – How to Choose the Right Bike for You

Bike Buying – How to Choose the Right Bike for You

Buying a new bike can be like welcoming a new family member into the home. It will need a place to stay (preferably inside where it’s warm and clean), it will need maintenance, cleaning and upkeep, and it will continue to cost you money for years to come in exchange for hours of joy, happiness, frustration, and anger. Nonetheless, cycling has become more and more popular over the last decade – Business Insider even wrote an article on the newly-coined phrase, “Cycling is the new golf”.

 

There are a few things to consider before you shell out several thousand dollars on your new toy. Read on for what to think about before pulling the trigger.

 

1. What are you hoping to use it for?

 

If multisport is your primary goal (duathlon and triathlon), then you might be thinking of going the direction of an aero triathlon or time-trial bike. These machines are built for speed over anything else, but they can have some drawbacks. Aero frames are often less efficient in climbing hills, and so if your A-race is on a hilly course, you may be wiser to stick to a lightweight road bike that is easier to climb with. Many road bikes are actually lighter than tri bikes, whereas the actual wind tunnel-tested aerodynamics of tri bikes are better than road bikes. Another idea to keep in mind is that you can always purchase a pair of clip-on tri bars for your road bike to temporarily convert it into a tri-bike where you can settle into an aero position for long periods of time. It’s also good to keep in mind that most cycling clubs don’t accept tri bikes during group rides because the aero position decreases the rider’s ability to control the bike well in a group scenario.

 

If your primary goal is to hit the roads and solid surfaces and be able to get outside, a road bike is likely the perfect fit for you. Under the road bike umbrella, there are several options to choose from. Road bikes intended for speed and racing are typically a little lighter weight and will have more carbon components (read: more $$$), and are generally stiffer with higher road feel, kind of like a pair of racing flats for runners. They are designed to be responsive and ultimately to be fast. The frames are built more aggressively with lower front ends and handlebars, meaning they aren’t quite as comfortable for the long ride.

 

Road bikes that are designed for the more casual rider or someone looking to go longer but not necessarily as fast as possible are considered endurance road bikes. Contrary to the lightweight, speedy road bikes, these bikes are built with more flexible frames, generous fits, and less aggressive gearing to allow for greater comfort over longer time. Many beginner riders find these bikes fit the bill perfectly. They also tend to come in a little on the less expensive side since the components aren’t geared to be as light as possible.

 

 

2. What type of surfaces are you looking to ride on?

 

If you’re hoping to hit some dirt roads but not exactly an intense forest trail, a gravel bike may be just what you’re looking for. Gravel bikes are newer players in the bike world, and have become a fantastic choice for both experienced and beginner riders as they offer wider tires, greater stability, and more riding flexibility than traditional road bikes. If you’re looking to get into the up-and-coming sport of cyclocross, this is what you’ll need!

 

Not quite a road bike and not quite a mountain bike, these bikes are of course heavier than racing bikes, but will give you the flexibility to ride on virtually all types of surfaces. They are fantastic for more social rides, where speed is less a concern and all-day riding is the name of the game. Frames can come in different materials offering heavier or lighter rides, but as with all bikes, it’s up to you what you want to shell out.

 

If you’re really hoping to go all-in with nature, your best bet would be a full-blown mountain bike. These bikes offer the thickest, most textured tires with the most stability, with frames equipped with shocks and components to absorb high amounts of force from bumps and jumps. These bikes are not terribly practical for much else other than the woods and tend to not make great commuters either as they are quite bulky.

 

 

3. What’s your budget?

 

This is a very important question to ask, as you can spend anywhere from $800 for an aluminum frame bike to thousands and thousands of dollars on a custom-made bike with all of the high-end fixin’s. In general, the lighter the bike, the greater the price. Keep in mind there are many “middle of the road” options that utilize a combination of materials such as an aluminum frame but with a carbon fork. We suggest that if this is your first bike purchase, look for something decent and not too heavy, but don’t break the bank. You can consider buying a bike used, but it’s crucial that the frame size is correct for you, otherwise even the best used bike will feel horrible to your body if it isn’t fit properly. Don’t just “try to make it work” – this is a one-way ticket to getting injured. Finally, invest in a proper bike fit. Most shops will offer you a “complimentary fit” with the purchase of your bike, but these are rarely more than a crude fitting where they ensure the seat is the right height. A truly well-done bike fit takes 2-3 hours and will run you $200-$600 dollars – worth every cent in our opinion. Most bike fitters stand behind their fit for at least one year, so if you start to develop an ache or pain that doesn’t feel good, you can go back and have an adjustment made.

 

With the right bike, for the right price, you can confidently ride into the future and enjoy every hour that your new toy brings you. Cycling changes many peoples’ lives and you may just find your next favourite sport off of the links.

 

About the Author 

Lauren Roberts is a Registered Physiotherapist and Founder of The Running Physio in Toronto. For more information on her team, the clinic, and for more great blog articles, visit www.therunningphysio.ca.

Training for Strength – The Power of the Sprint

Training for Strength – The Power of the Sprint

Whether you’re looking to build endurance, improve your running economy, or build strength and power, including high-intensity sprint-based workouts is one of the best tools to integrate into your training arsenal.

 

While there are many different types of workouts for endurance athletes, today we’re going to focus on the benefits of high-intensity training, particularly sprint-style.

 

Sprint-interval workouts (SITs) offer three main benefits:

 

  • Improved time to exhaustion (aka, improved endurance)
  • Improved maximal running speed
  • Improved time trial speed (aka, improved running economy/speed)

 

“Low and slow” training has garnered a significant amount of attention in recent years as many endurance athletes have touted its benefits. Low-intensity, high-volume training can indeed be an effective way to train, but for athletes who are looking to improve on specific aspects of their performance or who feel they have “plateaued”, introducing SIT training can help to break through these performance ceilings.

 

What and How?

 

There are many different approaches to introducing sprints into your routine. In fact, research has shown that completing 3 workouts per week for even just two weeks will result in improved performance. In this case, the workouts consisted of 4-7 rounds of 30 second “all out” sprints with 4 minutes of rest in-between. However, it has also been found throughout the duration of a full training program, no more than 20% of total training volume should be made up of high-intensity work as this may increase propensity of injury as well as create levels of bodily stress that are too difficult to recover from when total mileage is very high. As with all good endurance training plans, finding the right balance between volume and intensity is highly individualized.

 

In general, we recommend that beginner athletes (those who have been running or cycling for less than 1 year) start with a higher-intensity workout once per week. More seasoned athletes can do two, while being careful to plan other hard workouts far enough away from hard efforts to allow the body to recover. For example:

 

Sunday: Long Run

Monday: Off/Easy Cross Train

Tuesday: High Intensity (Tempo or Interval)

Wednesday: Recovery Run

Thursday: Off/Easy Cross Train

Friday: High Intensity (Tempo or Interval)

Saturday: Recovery Run

 

Remember that within any given run, there are loads of options and variability. A tempo run may consist of all-out 30-second efforts like in the research, or it may consist of something like 4 minute intervals at 70% of maximal effort. Changing things up is key!

Cons of SIT Training

 

From an injury standpoint, full-blown, 100% effort workouts should be used sparingly as they are quite challenging on the body. The amount of load associated with using muscles to their maximum capacity is quite a bit higher than just going for an average run. If the body isn’t used to this, tendons and muscles may rebel – resulting in muscle strains.

 

The other consideration for many people is that true sprint work is…hard work. To truly expend 90%+ of our maximal effort requires a high level of self-discipline and tolerance to discomfort. Of course, for those aiming to push the limits, this is part of the process; however that doesn’t necessarily make it more fun. Here’s where you have to use some psychological tricks – music and group classes are two great ways to turn a hard workout into a social competition.

 

Pros of SIT Training

 

As we mentioned, the performance gains from SIT training can be substantial. Another part of this equation is the improvement in mental toughness. In any race, long or short, comes a moment of self-doubt or inner critic that tells you that this does not feel good and to stop, now! The gifted athlete will recognize this feeling and learn to recognize it as a normal part of competition, even a good part of competition, and learn how to override it. But this can take practice. You are less likely to experience true, full fatigue with a slower workout, but when muscles are burning and the lungs and heart are pumping hard, it can require all you’ve got to not pull over to the side and stop. Experiencing this again and again, and also in the company of others can train you for what’s inevitably going to happen during race day so that you’re prepared to face discomfort head on.

Other Ways to Boost Speed and Power

 

One of the basic principles of training is the “Specificity” principle. Essentially, training specificity states that in order to achieve the greatest gains in our ability to perform a chosen task, the majority of our training must be spent performing that task or tasks that are extremely similar to it. Basically, what you practice is what you do. Going for a long walk won’t really help you with marathon training. Hours on an elliptical won’t improve your 100m sprint time. So, if you really do want to work on speed and power as a cyclist, you’ve really got to spend some time in the saddle.

 

However, there are other ways to help improve the body’s strength and conditioning, primarily through specific strengthening exercises to targeted specific muscle groups. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges completed at high weight/low reps can improve the number and size of muscle fibres which can assist you in being able to move faster and stronger. Note that specificity still applies here – someone engaged in cycling is best to focus on quadriceps and glute musculature while runners are wise to focus on the “springy” muscles like calves.

 

Finally, for runners in particular, another way to improve form, strength, and endurance is to add hill reps into your training program. Going up hills, focus on explosive power from your glutes, and high knees lifting through the hips. On the down, focus on trying to keep your feet underneath you and letting gravity do the work. Begin with 5 reps of 30 second uphill sprints, walking down. You can increase this number week to week and go as high as 10.

 

Remember – it never gets easier, you just get faster!

 

About the Author

Lauren Roberts is a Registered Physiotherapist and Founder of The Running Physio in Toronto. For more information on her team, the clinic, and for more running and endurance sport blogs, visit www.therunningphysio.ca.

 

References:

Jerome Koral, D. J. (2018). Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training Improves Running Performance in Trained Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 617-623.

Seiler, S. (2019). What is Best Practice for Training Intensity and Duration Distribution in Endurance Athletes? Human Kinetics Journals, 276-291.

Endurance Training: Choosing the Right Plan for You

Endurance Training: Choosing the Right Plan for You

So you’ve decided to train for a bigger race. You’ve signed up for a half marathon, full marathon, or maybe even tackling a multi-sport event like a duathlon or triathlon. Regardless of your chosen path, developing a proper training program becomes paramount with longer distances as both your propensity for injury and the demands on your body increase exponentially.

Whether you’re charting your own training plan or have a coach to help guide you, it’s important to know what kinds of workouts exist and how they are beneficial or detrimental to your overall training goals. You can think of types of runs as falling into one of three categories: endurance building, speed building, and recovery.

Think of a car – the long run is going to increase the size of your gastank; it’s how much fuel you can hold and how far you can go on a tank of gas. Speed runs are how efficient your use of the tank of gas is. Of course you want to be a new and clean-burning eco-efficient vehicle who can go miles and miles on a single tank rather than a big trucking gas guzzler that needs to stop twice on a road trip to top up!  

 

Long Runs

Long runs are the bread and butter of endurance athletes. The most surefire way to be sure you can prepare properly for a long event is to always prioritize mileage in the “low and slow” fashion. If you have to miss workouts in a week, really try to not miss this one.

  • The long run should make up 20-30% of your total weekly mileage and is usually over 60-90 minutes. They should be done at a pace much slower than your race pace – you should be conversational. The point of these runs is to grow your cardiovascular endurance, improve muscle fibre resistance and breakdown, and improve the efficiency in which your body breaks down fuel. You will need to fuel these runs and always remember to recover well afterwards. These are key to improving fitness.

 

Speed Runs

Speed runs are typically done at tempo pace or as intervals. The primary purpose is to reduce energy expenditure at submaximal exercise through improved sodium and potassium pump activity. In English – fatigue at a given intensity is delayed so you can go faster for longer. There are two main types of speed runs that help develop these pathways:

  • Tempo runs: Are done typically at a pace slightly slower than your 5k pace. They are fast, but sustainable. You should be able to hold this pace for 20 minutes, but it should be difficult.
  • Interval runs: Are short, intense efforts followed by equal or slightly longer recovery time. The pace should be harder than race pace. The idea here is to maximize cardiovascular efficiency, develop power, good form, and work on mental grit and persistence.

You should NOT be doing more than 2 speed runs per week as they are challenging on the body and require some time to recover from.

Easy or Recovery Runs

  • These are exactly what they sound like – shorter to mid-distance runs throughout the week that let you improve blood flow to tired muscles, let you mentally relax and unwind, and improve recovery.

Types of Plans

  While there are many approaches to training, they tend to come back to two main philosophies. The first is a combination of speed runs and long runs, while the second focusses on less speed work and longer, slower mileage.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Each plan has its own set of pros and cons – it’s important to consider your goals, experience level, injury status, and time available for training when selecting the plan for you.

Speed-based programs tend to be slightly lower mileage than volume-based programs. This means you can spend less time training during the week getting mileage in. However, some of the workouts will include moderate to high-intensity workouts which are both physically and mentally taxing and – depending on your history – can increase your likelihood of injury as these workouts can require a significant amount of recovery. Doing another hard run too soon after a hard workout can end up being a setback rather than an advantage if the weeks haven’t been planned ideally. Furthermore, it’s been shown that more than two hard speed workouts per week (even for a seasoned  veteran runner) is too heavy a training load and ends up decreasing race day performance. If you choose this style of training, it’s important that you have a good sense of your body and can quickly adjust if you sense that you’re getting more fatigued or beginning to risk injury. We usually recommend this style of training for athletes who have been training consistently for at least two years.

Volume-based programs are exactly what they sound like – more mileage, but at lower speeds the majority of the time. The downside with these plans is that you will have to be prepared to spend more time simply being on your feet; the upside is that you can avoid the torturous hard speed workouts if that’s less your jam. There is still risk of injury with these plans, but if mileage is properly progressed, the risk is generally a little bit less. Athletes with less experience looking to tackle big races are often better to stick to this type of plan.

 

Choosing a Plan

  You can sometimes find generalized plans for free online or through different apps. Remember these are just that – generalized plans. If you have a very big goal upcoming though, we tend to suggest something that is catered to you as an individual. You can find these online, or, if you really want to be specific, hiring a coach is always your best bet. This is the best way to have a plan created to your specific needs and goals, and can be adjusted quickly and efficiently if aches or pains begin to go awry.

When choosing a plan or a coach though, be honest with yourself and with them! Don’t overestimate your current times or paces as these will serve as a baseline in which the program is based off of. Overshooting these numbers will immediately increase your chance of getting hurt – trust the process. It’s science, and it works! And above all – remember it’s supposed to be fun. So if you miss a day here or there, don’t fret! As long as you’re generally consistent, results will come.   Happy training!

 

 

About the Author

Lauren Roberts is a Registered Physiotherapist and Founder of The Running Physio in Toronto. For more information on her team, the clinic, and for more running and endurance sport blogs, visit www.therunningphysio.ca.

Is This the Most Interesting Marathon in the World?

Is This the Most Interesting Marathon in the World?

Have any plans for December 13th, 2020? If not, you might consider signing up for The Antarctic Ice Marathon – the southernmost marathon in the world! If by any chance you’ve run a marathon on each of the other 6 continents, you might be one of few to join the ‘7 Continents Marathon Club’.

A formidable physical challenge and incredibly unique opportunity, the Antarctic marathon (42.2 km) occurs at the base of the Ellsworth mountains by Union Glacier, Antarctica. It is comprised of conditions including ice, snow, strong winds and an average temperature (with windchill) of -20ºC. The event occurs at an altitude of 700 metres. To get to the site, runners are flown into Union Glacier Camp from Punta Arenas, Chile. The camp is only accessible by air.

 

The scenery is no doubt indescribable – here’s a photo taken on a recent trip to the Antarctic Peninsula

 

So what kind of gear do you need for a challenge of this magnitude? Layered clothing, ski goggles, a facemask and trail runners are highly recommended along with feet/hand warmers. To prepare, some experience running on ice is recommended. This might be doable if you live in a country like Canada, but those who live in temperate climates have been known to train in giant industrial freezers! Other methods for preparation include running on a sandy beach (likely a welcome environment before heading to a place like Antarctica).

And of course, here at Altitude Athletic we can help you prepare for any challenge, on any continent. Our endurance classes are ideal for goals involving challenging environments and variable conditions. Read more about our classes here.

 

Gentoo penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula.

 

Sadly, there are no penguins there to cheer you on as no penguins live that far south. This is a shame given their undeniable cuteness!

The event record for men was set at the 2019 marathon by William Hafferty of the United States, who ran the race in an impressive 3:34:12! Meanwhile, Lenka Frycova of the Czech Republic dominated the female race with a time of 4:40:38. Last year, competitors came from all over the world, including Canada, France Denmark, China and Japan.

To learn more visit their site at: https://www.icemarathon.com

 

About the Author:

Jessica Miller is an avid adventurer and scientist. Having been to all 7 continents, she’s no stranger to traveling and is always looking for new expeditions to embark on.