Coach Darren Brunardt’s tips for running at altitude Part 1
Hello everyone! I hope your track season is going well! My name is Darren Brungardt, and I am the head coach of the Nike Cross Country Camp at Colorado Mountain College. Our beautiful campus sits at 10,152 feet above sea level. We are nestled between the Mosquito Range and the Sawatch Range, home to the tallest mountains in Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.
Tip #1: Embrace Your Surroundings
Don’t fight your surroundings; embrace them. Make every step a new adventure in this peaceful place. Make your runs your meditation. Seize every moment in the forest because you are a guest in Mother Nature’s playground, and who knows when you will be welcomed into this experience again. Let the Colorado air heal you, re-energize you, and bring you some balance.
Tip #2 : Just Breathe
It is easy to complain about running in Leadville. Walking up a flight of stairs can feel like you have just climbed Mount Everest. The atmospheric pressure is much lower at this elevation making it difficult to “find your breath”. How do you overcome this frustrating feeling?
1.Slow down on the uphill portion of your run if you are feeling light headed. It is OK to do so.
2.Find your breath. Don’t pant or hyperventilate. Take in slow deep breaths alternating from breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth when you get into a situation that feels overwhelming in the breathing department.
3.Don’t panic. This is easier said than done. Just as in swimming, the more you panic and fight your breath at elevation, the faster you will sink. If you get to that point of panic, stop, relax, look at the trees, listen to the breeze in the tress, and reset. Start back into it slowly.
4.Nearly every run in the mountains is up then down. What goes up, must come down! You will feel like a champion again when you start running back downhill. Keep that thought in your mind as you feel your breath labor. It will make you happy. Running downhill at 10,152 feet feels like eating your favorite dessert…with chocolate sprinkles!
This is the cleanest air you will ever breathe. It has its limitations in terms of running, but can teach you a lot about your breathing when you get to that big meet and your breath escapes you. Remember what it feels like to run at two miles above sea level, and you will always catch up with your breath again anywhere you run.