Preparing To Run The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

I am preparing to run the Grand Canyon rim to rim this Spring. Here are some of the things to consider when planning a rim to rim run. When to go, where to start and end your run, lodging, and what to bring.

When To Go

The best time to do a rim to rim run of the Grand Canyon is in April and October. During these months it is less likely to be hot and hot weather is something you want to avoid. Running in high temperatures can be dangerous. Even during these months temperatures can be high at mid-day at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Where To Start and End Your Run

Ideally the best place to start is at the north rim at the north Kaibab Trailhead because the north rim is higher than the south rim. This means that your ascent out of the Grand Canyon will be easier going to the south rim.

Lodging

If you decide to start your run at the north rim you will need a place to stay. For the two times that I have run the Grand Canyon, I have stayed at a place called Jacob Lake Inn and I have slept in my car at the Kaibab Trailhead. If you want comfort then the obvious choice is to stay at Jacob Lake Inn. If you want to save money then sleeping in your car is doable. One thing to consider is the drive from Jacob Lake Inn to the Kaibab Trailhead (where you will start) is 45 miles. Even though this is a long drive, Jacob Lake Inn is your best option given the limited lodging options that are available at the north rim.

Logistics

The best time to start your run is the early morning hours. Earlier the better! The two previous times I have run across the Grand Canyon I started at 3am, but don’t hesitate to start earlier if you can. The reason for starting so early is to avoid the mid-day heat at the bottom of the canyon. If you start early enough, you can make it to the south rim not too long after sun rise (depending on pace) and thus beating the heat.

Once you get to the south rim, you have two options to get back to the north rim. You can bring someone with you on your trip to specifically drive to the south rim from the north rim to pick you up and then drive you back to the north rim. If that option is not available, your second option can be to take a shuttle service back to the north rim.

What Gear To Bring

Having he right gear is important Here is a list of items to consider.

Clothing:

  • Running clothes
  • Light wind breaker jacket (you may or may not need it, but it’s always good to have just in case).
  • Hat to keep sun off your face
  • Sun glasses
  • Light pair of gloves to keep hands warm (most likely it will be cold at the north rim when you begin your run).
  • Trail running shoes. I recommend running in trail running shoes. Regular road running shoes are not designed to protect your feet from the hazards of trail running.
  • Bandana (use this to stay cool by wetting it and tying it around your neck).
  • A fast pack backpack: You’ll want something more than a small Camelback. You’ll need something big enough to carry a bladder for water, food, other gear items, a light pair of hiking poles. Your pack should be big enough to carry all this, but small enough to run with. Google “fast pack for running” and you will see packs designed for this kind of running.

Other items:

  • Light hiking poles that fold up to be carried in your pack (to be used for the ascent up to the south rim).
  • Sunscreen
  • iPod
  • Salt pills (important for electrolytes and hydration).
  • Gels
  • Shot blocks
  • High carb food (baked potatoes, sandwiches and bagels)
  • Beef jerky for protein
  • Snacks (granola bars, candy,)
  • Ginger chews (candy that helps with an upset stomach)
  • Money/credit card (to buy food at the south rim)
  • Baby wipes (because they work better than toilet paper)
  • Watch for telling time (GPS watches don’t work in the Grand Canyon).
  • Chap stick
  • Camera
  • Cell phone (you can make calls at the south rim, but you will not be able get reception in the canyon).
  • Small first aid kit for cuts, scrapes, blisters, and sprained ankles.

Blog Author’s Tip

To make running the Grand Canyon rim to rim enjoyable the name of the game is “BEAT THE HEAT.” To do this start in the early morning hours….like 12am, 1am, 2am. Doing this will help you to avoid the heat of the day at the bottom of the canyon. Something else you can do is to take a bandana that you can dip into streams and then tie around your neck. Having a wet bandana around your neck will cool the blood flowing through your arteries which in turn helps to keep your body cool. Lastly, make sure you are in good physical shape…this is really important! This is a difficult run! It is 23 miles from the north rim to the south rim.

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How To Train For An Ultramarathon: Be Flexible

Be flexible to address your priorities

Be flexible to address your priorities

I am starting to ramp up my training for a 50K in March, a rim to rim Grand Canyon run in May, and then a 50 miler in June. A speed bump that has come up are shin splints…I have them. My shin splints are not painful, but just uncomfortable. My concern is that if I start to train aggressively will my shin splints get worse?

This is where flexibility comes into the conversation. When training for an ultramarathon or any race for that matter, issues come up. They may be injury issues, like shin splints. They may be weather issues, like when a big snow storm hits when you need to be out running a 20 mile long run. Other important priorities may come up such as work, family and other relationships.

We need to have balance in our lives and being flexible is one way to keep that balance. If we give too much time to running then other priorities suffer. If there is a need to give time to your family, then do not neglect them by going running or perhaps you just go on a shorter run so you can spend time with them and run. Spending time with your family will make you a more rounded person and give you more balance in your life.

Another solution to addressing competing priorities may be to get up earlier in the morning to get your run in. Maybe it’s not getting up earl, maybe it’s going on a run in the late evening after all other priorities have been taken care of.

What about injuries? Injuries are going to happen. If you get shin splints, then take some time off to let them heal. Sure you may lose some cardo fitness, but in the long run you will be healthier and shin splint free come race day. To keep on training on an injury may make things worse and as a result you will have to take a longer period of time off from running to let things heal.

What about weather? Sometimes it is okay to run in bad weather. It may not be the most ideal situation to run in, but if it won’t hurt you then go. Sometimes the hardest step you take when running is the step out the door. Once you get out the door you will be glad you did. There may be weather that is just not safe to run in like a bad snowstorm, a lightning storm, or other weather related things that may not be safe. Use good judgement and common scene when these weather related issues come up. Instead of running on a bad weather day, maybe you can go to the gym, or run on a treadmill.

I think the key to dealing with these issues and competing priorities is to be flexible. Our training may not be perfect when applying the idea of being flexible, but you will be a more balanced person and happier for doing it.

Related Posts: How To Run An Ultramarathon

Training for An Ultramarathon: 100 Mile Training Schedule

Training-for-a-100-mile-race

Training for a 100 mile race

In my past posts on training for ultramarathon distances I said that to train for  and run a 50 miler you don’t need to have finished a 50K. For the 100 mile distance it is different! I highly recommend training and running a 50 mile race or a longer race before training for and running a 100 mile race. There are exceptions to this and there are people who have finished a 100 miler without running a 50 miler first. I will let you decide if you are the exception to this, just be sure you are the exception if you plan on taking the 100 mile distance on.

In my experience the 100 mile distance is a whole new ball game. Running a 100 miles often means running through the night. This means during the course of your race you will see the sunrise twice. Once on the first day (if your race starts early enough) and a second time the next day. Most 100 mile distance runners spend 24 plus hours on their feet. I only mention this because part of your training should include at least one long night run when you are sleep deprived. Doing this in a sleep deprived state will simulate what running through the night will feel like during your 100 mile race.

The race schedule below is very intense with high mileage weeks. Other then the tamper week, your lowest mileage week will be 30 miles. Your highest mileage week will be 75 miles. I think it is possible to be ready to run a 100 mile race on less training mile wise then what I have in the training schedule below. If you do need to pull back on training because of other commitments and priorities I think it is okay to do so and still be ready come race day. With that said, your high mile weeks should not drop below 50 miles.

Included in this 100 mile training schedule are two rest days. Make sure to rest! This is very important. The body needs time to recover from all the miles you will be putting in. It is also important to do the back to back long runs. Doing this will simulate running on tired legs from the previous days long run.

It is not necessary to follow this schedule exactly. If it works better for you to do your back to back long runs Friday and Saturday then do that and take Sunday off from running. Maybe you want to do your back to back long runs Sunday and Monday. The shorter runs are not as important as the back to back long runs are. The shorter runs are mainly there to keep your body tuned up.

Putting in the miles is important when following this schedule. But not as important as time spent on your feet. Not all miles are equal when running trails and some miles may take longer to run than others. That is okay and actually works in your favor when training for a 100 miler.

Lastly, don’t get caught up in how over whelming this distance may be to run. Talk with others who have finished the 100 mile distance and listen to any advice they may have to offer. Remember to have fun too, because that is what makes running ultramarathons so great!

Week Number M Tu W Th F Sa Su Total
1 4 6 4 16 10 40
2 4 6 4 18 10 42
3 4 6 4 20 10 44
4 2 4 6 10 8 30
5 4 8 6 20 12 50
6 4 8 6 22 12 52
7 4 8 6 22 12 52
8 2 4 6 10 8 30
9 4 10 6 25 13 58
10 4 10 6 25 13 58
11 4 10 6 25 13 58
12 4 8 6 10 8 36
13 4 12 6 28 15 65
14 4 12 6 28 15 65
15 4 12 6 28 15 65
16 4 8 6 10 8 36
17 4 15 6 30 15 70
18 4 15 6 30 15 70
19 4 15 6 30 20 75
20 4 8 6 10 8 36
21 4 15 6 30 20 75
22 4 15 6 30 20 75
23 4 10 6 10 10 40
24 4 6 10 20
25 5 3 2 100 110

Related Posts: Training for An Ultramarathon: 50 Mile Training Schedule; Training for An Ultramaraton: 50K Mile Training Schedule

Training for An Ultramarathon: 50 Mile Training Schedule

Training-for-a-50-miler

Training for a 50 mile race

To train for a 50 mile ultramarathon you do not need to have run a 50K. Although, having a 50K under your belt would not hurt one bit. If you can run 30 miles in a week for multiple weeks and not feel fatigued, then in my opinion, you are ready to take on this kind of training.

Training for a 50 miler means you will be putting in 30 to 60 plus miles a week depending on where you are at in the schedule. Most of the weeks in this schedule will be closer 50 mile range than anything else. The most important training runs are the long runs and the back to back long runs. The shorter runs are to just keep your body tuned up. This schedule focuses on two hard weeks and then one easy week. It is important to rest! This schedule has two rest days per week. Always take rest days!!

It is not necessary to follow this schedule exactly. If it is easier for you to do your back to back long runs Friday and Saturday or Sunday and Monday, then adjust the schedule so you can do that. Just as long as you get your long runs in as well as your two rest days. If you need to skip a short run because of other pressing priorities then that’s okay. There is other things in life that need our attention. The short runs are only for tune ups so to speak.

Because this is a training schedule for an ultramarathon, specifically a 50 miler, remember that your not training for speed, but for the ability to be on your feet running for a long period of time. Knowing that it is important to spend as much time on your feet as possible which may mean going slower on your training runs. If you are training on trails in the mountains, then going slower will come easier. In essence what really matters is time spent on your feet running and not how fast you run the miles.

Week Hard/Easy M Tu W Th F Sa Su Total
1 H 3 6 3 15 6 33
2 H 3 6 3 18 6 36
3 E 3 3 3 8 4 21
4 H 3 6 3 20 8 42
5 H 4 6 3 20 10 46
6 E 4 4 4 10 6 28
7 H 4 6 6 22 10 48
8 H 4 8 6 22 10 50
9 E 4 4 6 10 6 32
10 H 4 8 6 24 10 52
11 H 4 8 6 24 10 52
12 E 4 6 6 10 8 34
13 H 4 10 6 26 10 56
14 H 4 10 6 26 10 56
15 E 4 8 6 10 8 36
16 H 4 12 6 28 12 62
17 H 4 12 6 28 12 62
18 Taper 4 8 6 10 8 36
19 Taper 4 6 10 20
20 Race 4 3 2 50 59

Related Post: Training for An Ultramarathon: 50K Training Schedule; Training for An Ultramarathon: 100 Mile Training Schedule

Training for An Ultramarathon: 50K Training Schedule

Training for an Ultramarathon

Training for an Ultramarathon

To take on this 50K training schedule you should first be able to consistently handle 30 mile weeks without much trouble. If you are at that kind of fitness level you are ready to take on this kind of training work load.

Running miles when training for an ultramarathon is important, but spending time on your feet is what really matters. This is true when considering that not all miles are equal especially when trail running.

The schedule below alternates between hard and easy weeks, with two days of no running at all. Rest is just as important as training…remember to do that!  This 50K training schedule starts off with relatively low miles and gradually builds to 50 mile plus weeks. Back to back long runs are important to do. These back to back runs are scheduled on the weekends. This gets your legs used to running on tired legs and simulates how your body might feel when in the middle of a 50K race.

Week

Hard/Easy

M

Tu

W

Th

F

Sa

Su

Total

1

H

3

5

3

10

5

26

2

E

3

4

3

6

4

20

3

H

3

5

3

15

8

34

4

E

3

4

3

8

4

22

5

H

3

5

3

18

8

37

6

E

3

4

3

10

4

24

7

H

3

5

4

22

8

42

8

E

3

4

3

10

6

26

9

H

4

6

4

22

10

46

10

E

4

8

4

10

6

32

11

H

4

8

4

24

10

50

12

E

4

8

4

10

6

32

13

H

4

10

4

24

10

52

14

E

4

10

4

10

8

36

15

H

4

12

4

26

10

56

16

E

4

10

4

10

8

36

17

H

4

12

4

26

10

56

18

Taper

4

10

4

10

8

36

19

Taper

4

6

10

20

20

Race

4

3

2

31

40

 

Related Post: Training for An Ultramarathon: 50 Mile Training Schedule; Training for An Ultramarathon: 100 Mile Training Schedule

How To Run An Ultramarathon

Running an ultramarathon is doable with right training and preparation.

Running an ultramarathon is doable with right training and preparation.

Running an ultramarathon is a race that is doable, more so than most people think. There are some challenges that come along with running ultra distances, but with the right training and preparation you can finish an ultra. Here are some tips on how to run an ultramarathon.

  1. Build up your mileage base gradually. Rushing this can lead to burn out and injury. Having a good base is very important.
  2. Register for races that you can use as training races. The marathon and 50K distances are good for training for a 50 miler and a 50 miler can be a good training race for a 100 miler. Half -Marathons or 10Ks can be great training races for a little speed training.
  3. Be flexible. Don’t get caught up with following a training plan. Weather and injuries can keep you from sticking to a training schedule and that’s okay. Work, relationships and other commitments are important to maintain and should remain a high priority.
  4. Focus your mind on finishing. You will need every ounce of mental toughness you can muster to finish. At times mental toughness and focus are just as important, if not more important, than physical toughness.
  5. Find a friend who has ultra running experience who can coach and mentor you.
  6. You need to know how to run on tired legs. To do this schedule back to back long runs. Your legs will be tired from the first day’s run and this will simulate a race-like situation that you may face during your actually race.
  7. Know the course you will be running. Will it have mountains, flat roads, technical trails, or water crossings? Knowing this before hand can help you know how to train and prepare you mentally for what the race will be like.
  8. Remember to taper leading up to the race.
  9. When race day comes remember to go slow. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement and go fast. The name of the game is to maintain a manageable pace through out the whole race.
  10. Before race day think about clothing and gear. Will it be cold or hot? Will you be running in the dark? Some of these questions can help you know what clothing and gear you may need or do not need.
  11. Know your nutritional needs. Know what works for you and does not work for you.

These are my top eleven tips on how to run an ultramarathon. In future posts I plan on going into more detail on each of these points.

Related Posts: How To Train For An Ultramarathon: Be Flexible

Running In The New Year: The Grand Canyon, Havasupai, and Squaw Peak 50

Havasu Falls near Supai, Arizona. The water is...

Havasu Falls near Supai, Arizona. The water is blue/green due to high concentrations of dissolved lime picked up as the water runs through the sedimentary rock of Havasu Canyon and the Grand Canyon. 

It’s that time of year again when we say good bye to the out going year and greet the new year with goals and new year’s resolutions. If you’re like me you may have goals and new year resolutions for running.

For me I plan on running the Kahtoola Bigfoot Snowshoe Race in January and then during the months of February and March train for some Spring/Late Summer adventure runs. I want to either do a rim to rim run of the Grand Canyon or do a day run into Havasupai to play and swim in the waterfalls there and then at the end of the day run back out back to the trailhead.

Back in May of 2012 I did a Grand Canyon rim to rim run and I would have to say that it was one of the most enjoyable adventure runs that I have done. It’s enjoyable to do for a number of reasons. 1) Well maintained trails that are relatively rock free. 2) Lots of downhill running and flat trail running equals very runnable trails. 3) Low elevation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon means easy running that makes you feel like a running God. Especially if you live and train at higher elevations. 4) Water is piped into the trail.

What I think would make Havasupai a fun adventure run is that this is an Indian Reservation with places to buy food and a restaurant to eat at. This means we can go light and carry with you water and a few things to eat while on the trail. The real highlight of course would be exploring the area around the waterfalls and the swimming in the turquoise blue water of Cateract Creek, and to see the beauty of Navajo, Havasu and Mooney Waterfalls.

In June I plan on Running the Squaw Peak 50 Mile Endurance Run. I have 7 lifetime finishes for Squaw Peak, but for the past few years I have struggled to finish this race. For this year, I really want to get my 8th Squaw Peak finish and then eventually get 10 lifetime finishes.

After June I plan on running the local trails during the summer and running Mount Timpanogos as mush as time will permit.

Holiday Running: 4 Running Tips

holiday-runningRunning during the holidays is a little different than the rest of the year. The focus shifts from preparing and training for races to holiday parties and time with family and friends. Here are four tips to help you keep running during the busy holidays when it can be easy to not run.

  1. Sign up for a race: Look for a race that is in the month of January that can help you stay motivated to train. Without a race goal it can be really easy to get caught up in the business of the holidays and as a result running gets put on the back burner. Choose a race that is not too demanding so you can still dedicate some time to enjoying the holidays.
  2. Get a running partner: It’s likely that there is someone who wants to run during the holidays, but can not find the motivation. Invite that person to run with you. It will give you and that person motivation to run during the holidays. Who knows maybe a running friendship will result that will become long lasting.
  3. Enjoy the sights and plan ahead: For the holidays you maybe going out of town to visit family. Where ever you may be going plan ahead a route to run. Also include in your route planning sights to see that are unique to the location you are visiting. This will add motivation to get you out the door running and to learn something new about where you are visiting.
  4. Run in the mornings: There are a lot of evening parties/activities during the holidays that can get in the way of evening running. To get around this, simply run in the mornings. Running in the mornings may be hard especially if you live in a cold area during the holiday season. If you dislike cold weather running dress in layers and just get out the door. No one ever said they regretted going for a run once they have done it.

Cold Weather Running

Cold-Weather-Running

Winter weather running

Last winter I drove up a near by canyon and before I got out of my car I checked the temperature….it read 6 degrees. It was cold! But I went running anyways on a snow covered trail.

Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean we need to stop running. In my opinion, if you prepare and dress properly cold weather running can be enjoyable. Here are a few tips.

Dress in layers. Doing this allows you to take off layers if you begin to get hot. A lot of times when I go running in the cold I usually over dress, but once I get going I warm up and as a result I take off layers.

Your base layer should not be a cotton base layer. Cotton, moister, and cold weather are not a good combination. You want a synthetic base layer that will wick moister away from your skin. The next layer should be your insulation layer. Something like a fleece. Your third layer or outer layer can be optional depending on the weather. If it is raining or snowing you will want to put on a waterproof layer that is breathable. What I mean by breathable is so moister from your sweat can pass through your outer layer, but the outside elements (rain and snow) can’t get in. It’s all about staying dry and warm. Being dry is important to staying warm.

For your legs wear tights. Your tights should not be cotton, but a synthetic material that wicks moister away from your skin. I like to wear synthetic shorts over my tights, but shorts are optional.

Same story with socks….don’t wear cotton. Wear a synthetic sock or wool socks specifically made for running.

Always wear a hat that will cover your ears. Someone asked me the other day what may be the reason for getting headaches after running in cold weather. I asked her if she was wearing a hat that covered her ears. She said, no. She began wearing a hat and her headache problem went away.

Also wearing a hat helps with keeping the rest of your body warm. Your head has a lot of blood. If you can keep that blood warm then that warm blood will circulate through the rest of your body which will help prevent you from getting cold.

Cold and numb hands can make a run miserable. To prevent cold hands wear gloves. Again, wear synthetic gloves. They don’t need to be heavy gloves, but a light pair can go a long ways in keeping your hands warm.

Remember synthetic clothes are a must. dress in layers. wear socks that are synthetic or wool. Always wear a hat. And gloves can make a run a lot more enjoyable in cold weather.

Trail Running: Fitness and Nature

There are many reasons why I love to run! Among all my many reasons I thought I would blog about two of those reasons….being fit and being in nature.

Running to enjoy the nature

Running to enjoy nature

Being fit just feels good! It feels good in more ways than one. Being fit just doesn’t effect your body, but your mind and mental health. I find it easier to focus on work or whatever I’m working on after a run. I also feel less stress. There have been many times when I have been stressed out and don’t feel like going for a run, but every time I go running when feeling stressed I always feel better afterwards.

Being fit allows me to do strenuously physical tasks or activities. An example of this is when I summited the highest peak in the Tetons. I didn’t have to do much preparation fitness wise because I was already fit. I was able to just show up and do the climbing. Running to be fit affords me these opportunities to just show up to a strenuous activity to do it and enjoy it.

Most of my running is done on mountain trails in nature. It just feels good to be in nature away from the stresses of life. One of my favorite times to run in nature is after it has rained and the air temperature is cooler than

Being fit allows you to be active

Being fit allows you to be active

normal. The leaves on the trees and plants drip with rain drops and the birds sing as I run by. I love moments like this! Breathing in the clean mountain air helps clean my inner self from stress and worries. Here is a favorite quote of mine from the naturalist John Muir:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

Running is a great stress relief and a great way to enjoy nature especially if you get on the trails in the mountains.

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