Highlights From Last Week’s Active at Altitude Spring Trail Running Camp

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Active at Altitude is an ATRA member and partner in organizing the annual US Trail Running Conference.

Last week I helped coach runners at the six day Active at Altitude Spring Trail Running Camp, held in Estes Park, Colorado.  The goal of the camp was for runners to “learn about trail running through expert education and interactive runs in one of the top trail running locations in the United States.” Over the course of the six day camp, trail runners learned about a wide range of topics including running form, mental training, meditation techniques, training philosophy, trail running etiquette and much more. Campers also enjoyed a mix of running and hiking each day on beautiful Rocky Mountain trails in and around Estes Park. For this week’s tip, I will highlight different things I learned each day by being a part of this camp. I highly encourage runners of all levels and abilities to attend a camp at Active at Altitude, which for me was a great experience to expand and share my own knowledge about trail running.

Day 1 – Practice Awareness to Facilitate Change

Being aware is a necessary first step in making any changes, or alterations to stride, cadence, or form. If we want to change something we are doing, we must first be aware we are doing it. The camp director, Terry Chiplin, video recorded each camper running and then analyzed areas in which they could improve and/or be more efficient. The video helped campers gain awareness about their form, so they could then begin to implement change. Taking time to record ourselves during runs and to reflect on how our body feels will help to cultivate awareness, so we can discover things we may need to change.

Day 2 – Set Your Intention Before Running

Setting intentions before running is a great way to make your runs more meaningful. As a group, we knelt down and touched the earth before every run and set our intention, our objective, our purpose. Consider adding this to your daily training regimen. Your intention could be to have an adventure, to support your fellow running buddies, to reach a summit, or simply to have fun. Whatever your intention, setting it will help you have a more present and enjoyable experience during every run.


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Day 3 – Avoid Self-Limitations

Placing limits on ourselves may stop us from discovering what we are actually capable of. Chiplin recounted the story of the 1968 men’s Olympic 1500-meter final in Mexico, which was the first summer Olympics held at altitude. Research was in its infancy regarding the effects of altitude on distance runners, and many of the world’s top distance runners, including American Jim Ryun, were advised to run slower because of the higher altitude. These athletes intentionally trained and raced at slower paces. Kenyan runner, Kip Keino, however, was not informed of such effects of altitude. On the day of the final, Keino ran without thinking about the limitations of altitude and won gold with an Olympic record time of 3:34.91. Keino was able to run to his full potential because he did not place limits on what he could run. Think of what limitations we place on ourselves, thoughts such as, “I’m too old,” “I don’t have enough experience,” “I’m not fast enough,” and instead try racing without such limitations. You may discover potential you never knew you had.

Day 4 – Run Mostly Easy Miles

One of the world’s most renowned distance running coaches, Arthur Lydiard, introduced many revolutionary training principles in the 1960s, which are still used today by coaches around the world. One such principle is the idea of running mostly easy miles for a long period of time before transitioning into more intense forms of running. Lydiard concluded that easy running allows the body time to build strength and adapt to training stimulus, which will greatly reduce the risk of injury and increase the potential to maximize performance. Analyze your own training and think about the intensity of your miles. If you’re doing mostly faster running, or finding yourself having to stop frequently during your runs to rest, chances are you are running too fast and may need to first focus on running more easy miles.

Day 5 – Tips for Trail Running and Racing Etiquette

Learning to practice proper etiquette on the trails will help preserve the environment and create a more enjoyable experience for all l trail users. During camp, we read one of my previous articles “Training and Racing Etiquette Tips for Trails” to gain knowledge about running responsibly on trails. Each camper considered how they too could incorporate and practice these tips on their trail runs.

Day 6 – Make New Friends

By the end of camp, I had many new friends. Our group of campers grew very close over our 6 days together. We ran, hiked, ate, meditated, relaxed and explored together each day. We became more comfortable with one another and as a result, we shared highs and lows we experienced as runners and learned from each others ups and downs Running means something different to everyone and it was amazing to learn about everyone’s unique journey. One of the best reasons to attend a trail running camp is the incredible people you will meet.

Are you ready to attend a trail running camp? With over 125 to choose from, find one near you in our trail running camp directory: https://trailrunner.com/trail-news/coaches-and-camps-for-trail-runners/

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