Last weekend I learned a few things about how to make running the Grand Canyon rim to rim more enjoyable. Here it is in no particular order of importance.
April and October are the months to run the Grand Canyon
The best times to run the Grand Canyon are during the months of April and October. The main reason being the weather. It less likely to be hot which makes running rim to rim more doable.
Start early in morning between 1am and 3am.
The earlier the better. Starting early will give you plenty of time to get to the other rim and again the main reason for starting early is to beat the heat. It may be cool up on the rim in the months of April and October, but it still can be hot at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Mentally prepare for a long hard climb out of the Grand Canyon
It may or may not be a long hard climb depending on what kind of shape you’re in. But if you are in really good shape or just okay shape you should mentally prepare for the long hard climb out of the “Big Ditch.”
Hydration is the name of the game
There is a reason why the Grand Canyon National Park Service has piped in drinkable water into the trail of the Grand Canyon. It is because of the heat and how important it is to stay hydrated. If you get dehydrated then you will find yourself in a whole lot of trouble. Hydration is simple, just drink a lot and don’t stop drinking. Always top off your water bottle and/or camel back at every opportunity.
A close second is calorie intake
If you are running the Grand Canyon you for sure need to stay hydrated, but you will also need to take in calories to give you energy. Bonking, as we like to call it the running world, can really slow you down. The best way to take in calories is to have gels and powerblocks that you can easily eat while on the run. It also doesn’t hurt to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with you to eat.
Keep your self cool by staying wet
I’m surprised that more people don’t do this, but wetting your hat down and/or keeping a wet handkerchief around your neck can make a huge difference when it comes to beating the heat. The heat in the Grand Canyon can be a major factor in how you feel during a rim to rim run and staying wet helps your body to stay cool.
Good running shoes make the difference
Make sure you wear good running shoes. The run down into the Gran Canyon is long and having shoes that jam your toes during the descent can be painful. Having good shoes on your feet can make a huge difference when it comes to enjoying your run through the Grand Canyon.
Take time to enjoy the scenery especially if you think you won’t be coming back to visit the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a site to behold from the rim, but the real beauty of the Grand Canyon is down in it. The flowing water that the trail runs next to, the scenic water falls, and the flowers are amazing to see in the Spring time. Take the time to enjoy this and your run will be much better than if you didn’t.
Talk to people on the trail…it’s fun to hear what they’re doing
If you’re not trying to set some kind of speed record or a PR, then I would take the time to talk with people on the trail. There are a lot of people on the trail who are doing rim to rim hikes or runs. They all have their own stories and life experiences and most of the time they are curious to know what you are doing.
It gets warmer as you descend into the canyon
In the months of April and October it can be really cold on the rim of the Grand Canyon and it is very tempting to wear a jacket into the canyon. When you start your run just start with shorts and a running T-shirt. As soon as you begin your run into the Grand Canyon it will warm up quickly. The air is quite a bit warmer in the Grand Canyon than it is at the top. Even though it is warm in the Grand Canyon it is always wise to carry a jacket with you as you run. You never know what may happen and that jacket may be really useful if you get stuck in the Canyon over night or something like that.
Get ready to have a great run…especially on the well kept trails at the bottom of the canyon
Running the Grand Canyon is a run every runner should do…It is that good!! I have run a lot of trails and nothing really compares to the trail quality, to the scenery, and to the challenge of it. If you are prepared properly for a rim to rim run then you will have a great run that will have you wanting to do it again.
Is there more to running trails than just running trails? I think so. What I mean by that is if you are out running trails then you are out in nature. Maybe you are on a mountain trail or in the desert on a trail or maybe on a city trail. Whatever kind of trail you are running on there is a good chance you are surrounded by nature. Something I have started to do more of is enjoy nature on my trail runs. I do this by taking pictures of what I am seeing as I run up and down mountains. I also have found it enjoyable to take video of my runs and then edit that video into something that is hopefully enjoyable to watch.
I started out doing this by taking pictures with my iphone 4. Not the best option as far as quality pictures go, but it was good enough and the only option I had at the time. I found a couple of apps that I could use on my iPhone to edit my pictures…Google’s Snapseed app and of course Instagram. Snapseed works great for editing photos before posting them to Instragram. Instagram is a great way to share photos and Instagram has photo filters for minor photo editing. Instagram is primarily set to share and view photos on a smart phone, but there is a sharing function in the app that allows you to share to Facebook, Twitter or to email your photos to family and friends.
After using my iPhone 4 as my main camera for awhile I decided to buy a nice point and shoot camera that I could easily carry with me on trail runs. The end result of this purchase has been better quality pictures. I also bought a GoPro Hero 3 which has been a lot of fun to use. I can take video and pictures with my GoPro. Both video and pictures from the GoPro are great.
Trail running by itself is a lot of fun, but adding photography and videography to trail running adds another element to running trails. And it gives you a way to share with others the things you are seeing and experiencing. Below are some of the photos and a video I took on my run last Saturday.
This past winter I have summited Grandeur Peak 9 times. Grandeur Peak is a peak east of downtown Salt Lake City. It is easy to access in the winter time and for that reason there are a lot of snowshoers/hikers who pack down the snow on the trail. This packed down snow makes for great winter trail running. No snowshoes needed at all to get up on the peak unless there has been fresh snow from a storm. In that case it is a good idea to wait a day or so for snowshoers/hikers to pack down the new snow. Microspikes help a lot with traction and I would highly recommend them. Along with this post is a short video I made of one of my Grandeur Peak summits. It was a sunny afternoon when I made the video. A great day to be going for a summit!
- Grandeur Peak: Running Up for Air-2013 (dallanmanscill.com)
Running snowy trails is fun, but I am looking forward to running trails this summer. I recently watched this You Tube video of some incredible footage of running Mt. Timpanogos. Last summer a few ultra/trail runners ran the whole skyline or ridge line of Timpanogos. I thought I would post the video here to give us something to look forward to this summer.
I ran Grandeur Peak this last weekend to help bring awareness to the bad air quality that we have along the Wasatch Front. The run was organized by Jared Campbell and called Running Up For Air. Jared reported that 58 people participated totaling 126 summits on the day. Jared Campbell was able do 12 summits in one day. Jared Campbell’s blog posted a post detailing the days summit totals.
It was great day to be out on the trails. My brother Caleb came with me and it was good to be with him. It was warm, but despite the warm weather the trail was still mostly covered with snow. With the warm temperatures in the forecast though that will soon change. The snow was soft because of the warm weather which lead to less sure footing even with microspikes on.
My summit of Grandeur Peak on Saturday was my 6th summit of the year. By Spring time I hope to have 10 summits on the year.
Since the beginning of the year I have decided to get as many summits as I can on Grandeur Peak. I have been able to get 5 summits so far this year. I hope to get more…maybe 10 by the time Spring to hits.
Grandeur Peak is a peak that’s part of the Wasatch Mountains that over looks the Salt Lake Valley. It is between Parleys Canyon and Millcreek Canyon. It is not the highest peak in the area, but it tops out at 8,299 ft. The trail up to the summit from Church Fork in MillCreek Canyon is used heavily in the winter time which means the snow is packed down. This means snowshoes are not needed unless there has been a recent snow storm that has put down some new snow on the trail. Round trip from Church Fork (trailhead to summit and back) is 6 miles.
This coming Saturday (March 2nd) I plan on summiting Grandeur Peak 2 times in one day. I’m doing this to help raise money to improve the air quality along the Wasatch Front. The air quality in this part of Utah can be very poor especially in the Salt Lake Valley during the winter months. There will be other runners running up Grandeur Peak to help raise money. Some runners, like me, will be going for 2 summits, other runners will be going for as many as 12 summits on Grandeur Peak in one day. Jared Campbell is one of those runners who is gunning for 12 summits. If you are interested in donating to the cause to improve air quality along the Wasatch Front you can donate at breatheutah.org.
To see what runners are participating, you can go to Jared Campbell’s Blog to see the runners and their summit goals.
Lately I have only been running on the treadmill rather than my preferred terrane which are trails. There are two reasons why I have been on the treadmill and they are cold weather and bad air quality due to inversions we get here along the Wasatch Front. The high day time temperatures have not been above freezing since Christmas and the low temperatures have dipped below zero at night. This stretch of cold temps is uncommon for the Salt Lake area…something I’m not used to. As far as the air quality goes, it is unfortunately common to have inversions or bad air quality during the winter months. In fact, about a week and half ago it was reported that the air quality along the Wasatch Front was worse than Beijing’s air quality which is supposed to be some of the worst air in the world.
So today I decided that I had, had enough of treadmill running and decided to get up on some trails above the inversion. Right now there is a good amount of snow in the mountains. Because of this I picked some heavily used trails to run on so that the snow would be packed down. I decided to go up a canyon in the Salt Lake area named Millcreek and run on a trail called Pipeline.
I knew the Pipeline trail would be above the inversion which means that it would be warmer up where I was going to be running than in the valley. When there is a inversion there is cold air that gets trapped in the valley, but above in the mountains it can actually be warmer.
Knowing this I purposely dressed in layers so I could peel off the layers as I got higher and it got warmer. I also used a pair of Microspikes to run in. These worked great for running in the snow they easily bit into the snow to give me great traction for my whole run. During my run I did not really think much about my traction or the fact that I had Microspikes on. But once I took my Microspikes off to walk a short distance through the snow to my car I noticed my traction was not as good and that wearing Microspikes really makes a difference.
It felt really good to be outside today instead of on a treadmill. It also felt equally as good to be breathing crisp cold fresh air in the mountains. There is nothing like getting out in the mountains to enjoy nature
I live in Utah and this time of year (the winter months) when I leave for work it’s dark and when I come home from work it’s dark. As far as running goes, that leaves me the option of putting on a head lamp and some glow in the dark clothing (so car can see me) to go for a run in the dark. But my preference is to not run in the dark, but to run in the day light. So I decided this week I would start running during my lunch break at work.
To make this idea work, I decide to make sure I ate a good breakfast in the morning, so I would have enough energy for my lunch time run. I also have made a better effort of drinking water during the day so I will be hydrated come lunch time. Then on my run during lunch I eat a small sandwich. In ultramarathon races you have to eat on the run. Eating a small sandwich while running is good practice. When I get home in the evenings I make sure to eat a little bit more for dinner to make up for only eating a sandwich during lunch.
So far this has worked out very well. I’m able to run during day light hours. I also work in downtown Salt Lake City and right close to downtown there is a canyon called City Creek. Within five minutes I can get up City Creak Canyon and I actually feel like I’m in nature and away from the city…it’s great!! I also feel rejuvenated physically and mentally and I am ready to get back to work after my run. I also feel more productive after my lunch time runs.
Also, my work has a small lockeroom with showers and so I’m able to change into my running clothes, take a shower after my run, and then quickly change back into my work clothes. All this takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes. I can get in about 2.5 to 3 miles in during that time period.
I think this will be my regular routine for lunch until I can go running in the evenings when the sun is still up.
I have not done this for a while, but in the past I used my heart rate monitor to track my fitness progress from week to week. I’m not a fitness trainer nor am I an expert trainer. But this test I use to track my fitness is a fun way to see progression.
When training for a race, it is often noticeable that you are getting in better shape. You and others may notice that you have lost weight, you may feel healthier, have more energy, and just feel happier in general. These are all good indicators that your fitness is improving, but another way to track fitness is through tracking your heart rate over the course of your training.
To do this you need to know your (1) target heart rate for exercise and then (2) do a weekly test run around a track, (3) while staying within your target heart rate for 60 minutes. This initial test will give you a baseline to compare future fitness tests to see your progression.
Stuff to keep in mind when doing your weekly test:
- Stay within your target heart rate.
- Running surface.
- Run for 60 minutes.
- Heart Rate Monitor (this is a must)
- Your normal running clothes and shoes
Why the focus on target heart rate?
When training you can under train or over train or in other words your heart rate may be too low for improved fitness (under training) or your heart rate may be too high which can lead to burnout and/or injury (over training). In between both of these there is an “ideal” that is most optimal to aid you in reaching your fitness goals. This “ideal” is your target heart rate. Everyone has a different target heart rate which is dependent on age. To learn what your target heart rate is you can use a target heart rate calculator.
Why run on a track?
To track your fitness progression over time the surface you run on for your weekly test needs to be the same or in other words it needs to be one of the constant variables from week to week. Running on different surfaces will skew your results from week to week. The surface also needs to be flat to eliminate the hill variable. The local high school track is a prefect place to do this.
Why run for 60 minutes?
There are two reasons for this. The first being that the time needs to be a constant variable each week when you do this test run. The second reason being that you need to run long enough to show a decline in your pace while making an effort to stay within your target heart rate
Why this is a good way to track your fitness progress?
The first time you do this test (baseline test), you will notice that as you stay in your target heart rate your pace will slow down as you get closer and closer to running for a full 60 minutes. Naturally your heart begins to get tired the longer you run and in order to stay in your target heart rate you will need to slow your pace. Slowing your pace is okay when doing this test.
Over weeks and months of training your heart will get stronger and the decline in your pace for each test will not be as steep. You will also notice that you will be able to cover more distance in 60 minutes while still staying within your target heart rate. Seeing this kind of data from your heart rate monitor confirms what you have been seeing and feeling which is weight loss (if that is your fitness goal), more energy, and generally feeling happier.
To do this you need:
- To know your target heart rate.
- To run on the same track each week.
- To run for a full 60 minutes.
- To stay within your target heart rate for the whole 60 minutes.
- A heart rate monitor (this is a must).
- Your normal running clothes and shoes.
As you do this test each week your pace will not decline as fast as you run in your target heart rate and you will be able to run farther in 60 minutes. This is great way to track fitness using a heart rate monitor and it is fun way to see your progress.
Note: You don’t have to do this test each week. A monthly test will work just fine as long as the variables are the same.
About three months ago I started to get some discomfort in my shins especially when I ran. I use the word discomfort because it never developed into anything really painful. The discomfort was something I have never had though. Wanting to know what was causing it I got on the Internet and did a little bit of research and after reading about it. I decided to self diagnos my discomfort as shin splints.
In my research on this I read that rest and compression leg sleeves are good to treat shin splints. So I decide to buy some compression leg sleeves. There are also compression sock that not only cover your feet but go all the way up to just below the knee joint. Originally compression socks were designed for those who have diabetes to help increase blood flow through their legs and to keep blood from pooling up in the bottom of their legs.
Logically it did not make sense that something that was designed to compress was to aid in blood circulation. It makes more sense to me that it would restrict blood flow. So I was a little skeptical. But I bought a pair of compression leg sleeves anyways, knowing that a lot of ultra runners said they really did help their shin splints.
When my compression leg sleeves finally came in the mail I decided that I would continue to not run, but rest my legs. I figure that this is a good time of year (Nov. and Dec.) to rest and not run. I don’t have any races planed until March or April. But even though I have been resting I still have had some discomfort in my shins and so I decide that I would wear my compression leg sleeves all day long for a week to see if they really would help my shin splints. Surprisingly the discomfort went away and I can now run my fingers down my shine bone without any pain or discomfort. So this compression thing worked!
I have not worn my compression sleeves running yet so I’m not sure how they will help me run or if they will help with leg fatigue. But I have read that after long training runs, runners have reported that they feel less leg fatigue especially the next day. So I’m kind of itching to get out and run just to try out my compression leg sleeves on a long training run.
I enjoy running whether it’s on roads or trails, but there is something about a single track trail that I love. I’ve often wondered why trails are so much fun to run? I think it’s because trails add another element to running. There are rocks, roots, sometimes mud, and sometime snow. Trails never are straight, but snake through the terrain we run. All this combined offers more of a challenge for us to focus our minds on so we don’t trip and fall, so we don’t sprain an ankle. Trails are often found in nature, in deserts, and in mountains. In these places are found fresh air and the sounds of nature like a rambling stream and singing birds. Sometimes there are wildlife encounters with deer, snakes, and sometimes a bear or a moose that can add a little more adrenaline to a fun trail run. I think all of this is what makes trail running so much fun!
- Why I Hit The Trails (tanyasylvan.com)