Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude: Camp Brooks Day 1
Three days spent at 5,300+ feet ironically had me breathing easier and feeling lighter than ever before. In early January, I learned I would be participating in an once and a lifetime experience by attending Altitude Camp with the Brooks Beasts Track Club. The Beasts are an elite group of pro athletes ranging in speed and distances, but united by a philosophy to #RunHappy.
Each Spring, the Beasts head to altitude for training. The philosophy basically being that if you can run at altitude, you can run anywhere. Scientifically, there is significantly less oxygen the higher you climb. To compensate for the lack of oxygen, the body in turn produces more red blood cells. These cells aid in oxygen delivery to the muscles. To make things even more interesting, the Beasts live above the line of where they train. The process allows their body to sleep/recovery in a more extreme climate than work takes place. They spend several weeks nestled in about 6,700 feet up in the Sandia Mountains. Training just below that on the track and trails in Albuquerque.
All of this sounds like a near death mission for any average runner. For recreational runners attempting to pace chase in altitude, you need to either spend 10-14 days of adjustment period acclimating or….do like we did. Get in and get out! The first 48 hours at altitude for me showed nearly unrecognizable differences. Not knowing how I would respond, I made a promise to myself to ease into each workout and running experience. I had been invited there for my ability to love and share running with the world, not my ability to round the track.
Day 1| 80 degrees, no clouds, picturesque landscape and we were headed to a track upwards of 5,100 feet. After a chance meeting of the Men’s Beasts team in the elevator, I was amped to get my Virginia feet on that New Mexico track!
As Coach Mackey took time to explain the workout, I had no idea what to expect. “EFFORT BASED” were words he used to describe the intervals. SCORE!!! As I would come to find out more as the weekend went on, Mackey who is in his mid thirties, is a believer of effort based training. He also subscribes to the school of less can be more, meaning that grinding high mileage and high intensity into the ground doesn’t necessarily yield better results. He believes athletes should spend time off the track in play and with family as well. This was refreshing as I come from a coach who shares this same philosophy. We know that when life is good, running will follow.
Soon after wrapping my head around the workout, equals part relief and excitement started to set in, especially when he shortened the set from 5 to 3 due to altitude! Having full faith in my training for short, speed all winter I knew I was in good shape with this one.
We were divided into smaller groups led by members of the Beasts TC. Each interval began with our group. We lined up and would start together after a countdown. I eased in, taking each interval one at a time. As we rounded the curves, our Beasts coaches were there cheering and giving clock updates. “2:58|2:59| 3:00- Rest!” I made it 600 meters give|take for each 3:00 minute interval I ran. The team support and encouragement made me feel like I was at home running with my team.
I proudly held a 7:35 pace average for the set. More impressive was my ability to consciously set my intention to relax, stay steady, and run happy! Being physically prepared for the workout was one thing, but choosing to enjoy it and leave the pressure in the stands is what lead to my success that day. My attitude truly had determined my altitude! I felt completely at home on that track and felt an unmistakeable fire arise for more workouts like this coming Spring 2017!
Mentionable and Functional Gear
SHOES | Special Edition Brooks Launch 4, size 7.5
BRA | Vixen C
SHORTS | Women’s Chaser 5″