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Into Thin Air: Running Up High; The Shades of Summer; and Screamin' Deals on AMR Merch
another mother runner
Into Thin Air
(or how to run at altitude)
There’s a reason elite runners live in places like Big Bear, California (6,750 feet), Boulder, Colorado (5,430 feet), and Flagstaff, Arizona (6,903 feet): The thin air makes running, not exactly an easy pursuit on flatland, feel even harder. Masochistic, right? Does that mean that you, headed to the Rockies or the Sierras for vacation, are off the hook from packing your running shoes? Nope.  
            On our Facebook page and in person, we’ve fielded quite a few questions from mother runners about running high, so we’ve got some answers ready. Here’s are some ways to not suck at exercising at altitude.  
 
Slow your roll.
While there’s no scientific formula that says you’ll go 30 seconds slower for each 5,000 feet you gain, this running calculator takes elevation into account: a 9:37 mile in a 10K at sea level translates to a 10:00 mile at 5,000 feet above sea level and a 10:13 at 8,000 feet. That said, it’s not a wise move to adjust your pace purely by numbers; instead, listen to your breathing and tune into your effort. Chances are, your “easy run” pace at altitude can feel like a tough run at sea level. (Take it from SBS, who recently was gasping for air on a Denver run with Dimity!) So don’t think of “walk” as a four-letter word. View those breaks as a way to drink in oxygen.

Then adjust your mind.
Deb, another mother runner, lives in New Jersey, but decided to tackle the Leadville Heavy Half—a 15.5-mile jaunt that climbs to, gasp, nearly 14,000 feet—while her family was vacationing in the West. “I had two goals: to finish and have fun!” says Deb. “I took all the pressure off myself and just went with it. I stopped to take pictures. I stopped to catch my breath when I needed to. I paused to take in the glorious views and made time to realize how incredibly lucky I was to have the ability to participate in this awesome event. And I loved every minute of it!  I finished in 4:49:54, way faster than I thought I could finish. And I truly believe it was because of my attitude that I enjoyed it so much.”

Run by time, not miles.
Running high is like trail running: Preconceived notions of pace don’t serve you particularly well. So if you’re a 9:30-minute/mile runner in Minnesota and are vacationing in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the training plan you’re on tells you to run four miles one day and five the next, run for 40 minutes one day and about 50 the next. Doesn’t matter how slowly you go; your body will be doing the running thing for the appropriate amount of time.
 
Hit the ground running.
Experts vary on their advice, but the general consensus is your body is capable of performing best within 48 hours of arriving at altitude or after 10 days of being there. Sarah can vouch for this notion: She came close to her usual 13.1 time in the 2011 Ogden [Utah] half-marathon after rolling into town less than two days pre-race.
 
Drink, drink, no drunk.
We know you know alcohol hits your (thinner) bloodstream a little more intensely when you’re on high, so we’ll leave it at that. But we will hound you about drinking until you’re nearly peeing clear: Have a water bottle at the ready on the plane, in the rental car, near your bed, and definitely on a run of any length. The air is d.r.y. in the mountains, so you may not sweat like you do at home, but trust us: You’re likely panting a bit and losing liquids at a geyser-esque pace. Deb carried two 20-ounce bottles and filled them each four times: one was for water, one was for Nuun. “I drank it all,” she says.
 
(And a P.S. for anybody who gets a thin-air headache: I—Dimity—always travel with Nuun, which eases post-effort headaches for me, and ibuprofen, which help with the other kind of head-hurt. Even I, a mile-high Denver dweller, get a painful noggin when I head higher.)

Contain the radicals.
Apparently pesky, damage-causing free radicals thrive at altitude, so exercise is a little more burdensome on your bod. To mitigate their effects, don’t skimp on sleep, which can be easier said than done, we realize: Not only sleep be easily interrupted at altitude, but if you happen to be sharing a room or bed with a youngster…anyway, hit the hay at a reasonable time.
 
Get geeky with your nutrition.
We have no initials after our names, so handing out diet advice beyond a long run does not entitle you to a pint of gelato is a little beyond our realm of expertise. That said, if you want to supplement your diet with some potential altitude aids beyond hydration, Matt Fitzgerald suggests green tea extract and sodium bicarbonate in this article, while Jeff Gaudette recommends iron, antioxidants, and branch amino acids in this piece
 
Heavy Half finisher Deb was a little less intense, and went for potato chips and M&Ms at the aid stations. We like how she rolls: Salt and chocolate is a delightful combo for vacation, whether you’re running or not.

 
Chariot Cougar 2
Shady Character
They're lighter than Legos. They don't fog one little bit. They were perched on Dimity's nose for days and days as she trained for Ironmother, and they may have been the one thing either on or in her that didn't irritate her. At all. They are her Smith Pivlock V90's, shades that make any mother runner look badass and fast—even if she isn't feeling that way. Grab a pair for yourself—and check out the other styles in Smith's performance line—here. 
AMR Tank/Sweaty Band Combo=$35!
Even though fall styles are out and about, we haven't really reached the turnaround point in summer yet. (So thanks but no: We don't really want to look at wool sweaters and leather boots right now.) To stay season-centric, Sarah, who color coordinates with the best of them, came up with this screamin' deal: an AMR tank and an AMR Sweaty Band for just $35. (That's a $15—or 30%—savings!) The combo comes in either blue (both tank and band are badass mother runner tank) or pink (another mother runner tank and ❤ run band). Deals ends on July 23, so get 'em while they're hot—and you're sweaty.

The more I run, the less I want to run away.

If those words speak to you, run—don't walk—to buy this $25 lifestyle, super-soft tee.

On the Road:
August and Beyond
What's your goal for the rest of 2013? If we meet you, we're going to want to know!
August 6: AMR Party in Cleveland, OH (RSVP)
August 7: AMR Party in Columbus, OH (RSVP)
August 8: AMR Party in Chicago, IL (RSVP)
August 9-10ZOOMA Half-Marathon and 10K, Chicago
September 6-7: Team Morning, Nuun, Night: We Mothers Run! (Dimity + 11 pals from her 'hood) take on Ragnar Colorado
September 22: Happy Girls Run Half-Marathon, 10k, and 5K, Forest Grove, OR 

October 2: AMR Party in Gaithersburg, MD (RSVP)
October 4-5: Ragnar D.C.: The Ultimate Mother Runner Showdown
October 17: AMR Party in Philadelphia, PA 
(RSVP)
October 24: AMR Party in St. Louis, MO (RSVP)
October 25-27: Rock' n' Roll St. Louis
Phew. You can find more details here. See you soon!

AMR Headed to a Screen near You

So it's not quite drinking wine with Hoda, a mother runner, during the Today show's 4th Hour, but I—Dimity—will be doing a live video stream on Wednesday, July 24, at 6:15 pm MST from the Training Peaks office in Boulder, Colorado. I'm going to talk about the 10 Truths of Running for Mother Runners—or Busy People. If you're relatively local and want to join us for a short run at 5:30 (weather permitting: if the temp is above 90, I reserve the right to veto the run), and then join in the chat, RSVP here. If you're going to watch and want to submit a question—as always, no question is too basic or TMI—please head to this Facebook page, say you're going, albeit virtually, and post it in the comments. On the 24th, you can find the live stream here at 6:15 p.m. MST. If you have any other questions, please email us at runmother {at} gmail {dot} com. Thank you!

Sarah says: While my husband slept off a hangover at our mutual college reunion, I set out on a 10-miler. Thanks to the East Coast heat and humidity, I was quickly drenched and drained. The hilly route took me past the lake where I learned to row, so I peeled off my shoes and sweaty tank, plunged in, and swam a few hundred yards. Reinvigorated, I trotted back toward campus with renewed pep in my step.  

Dimity says: I had about two weeks of total recovery after Ironmother, and then reality set in. Summer = kids who are.soooo.bored/hungry/whiny = mom who is going to lose her mind. Sunday morning, exactly14 days post-race, I went for a short trail run with my pals and vented and laughed. My legs weren't thrilled with the climbing, but a renewed sense of patience seeped into my soul with each step. Perfect first run back.
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