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Archive for the ‘How-Tos’ Category

Tahoe Trail Bars Make for a Great Hiking Meal!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives in Lake Tahoe and is the host/creator of the outdoor series Adventure Dining Guide. She created Adventure Dining Guide because “food is the unrecognized hero of our journeys, and its about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn more at www.adventurediningguide.com

Who: Cameramen Skyler Mullings & Michelle Shea
What: Featuring Tahoe Trail Bar as the main ingredient and new ways to enjoy trail bars
Where: Tahoe Rim Trail
When: April 2015

I love trail bars! They’re a staple food in my outdoor adventures because they’re tasty, convenient, and filled with trail necessary nutrients. However, sometimes I crave variety…so I invented three ways to transform a trail bar into more than just a quick snack. I used ingredients that are pack friendly and will help elevate a trail bar into a hearty meal. ADG

This is the Adventure Dining Guide episode featuring Tahoe Trail Bar:

Here is a link to the recipe:
www.adventurediningguide.com/3-trail-bar-recipes

Get Your Adventure Meal Ingredients at TMS:

Adventurous Dining at the Peter Grubb Hut

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives in Lake Tahoe and is the host/creator of the outdoor series Adventure Dining Guide. She created Adventure Dining Guide because “food is the unrecognized hero of our journeys, and its about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn  more at www.adventurediningguide.com

Who: Chef Brian Robinson from the Clair Tappaan Lodge, cameraman Calvin Scibilla, dogs Bella and Shogun, and myself
What: Hike to Sierra Club’s Peter Grub Hut and cook lunch in the hut
Where: Tahoe National Forrest and the Clair Tappaan Lodge
When: November, 2014

This was the first official episode that I filmed for Adventure Dining Guide with a cameraman, a script and an experienced chef. I was both nervous and excited for this adventure and spent weeks making sure everything turned out as planned.

ADG

Calvin and I arrived in the morning to the Clair Tappaan Lodge to be greeted by Chef Brian and the friendly staff and volunteers who were at the lodge. We all sat down to enjoy a family style breakfast, where Calvin and I were able to hear some great stories about the lodge and its long history.

IMG_2909

Prepping the taco meat ingredients in the Clair Tappaan kitchen

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Thanks Technical Equipment Cleaners (TEC)!

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Technical Equipment Cleaners (TEC), located at 10607 W. River St. Suite 1D, Truckee, CA specializes in cleaning, waterproofing, & repairs for outdoor sports apparel and equipment.

TEC utilizes “Green Cleaning, NOT dry cleaning” – All water cleaning, All ECO friendly, All ways…

Learn more at tec-tahoe.com and follow them on Facebook.

Recently, #TMS employee, Kevin Snow had the misfortune of sitting on an (open) energy packet in the car after split-boarding up Tamarack Peak in the Mt. Rose backcountry. Kevin had on his new Arc’Teryx Beta AR Pants. These hyper-durable pants were not ruined but definitely needed a cleaning to get the GU off them.

These awesome pants are packable, waterproof pants featuring minimal bulk, exceptional waterproofing, and reinforced knees, seat, and lower legs to ensure a long lasting construction.

BEFORE

Enter TEC. Daniel Cates (Owner of Technical Equipment Cleaners) in Truckee, CA came to the rescue. His professional cleaning service shined brightly as he washed, brushed, washed and brushed again the incredible Beta AR Pants.

Thank you to TEC for bringing Kevin’s pants back to life!

AFTER

Watch the video below to see the aftermath of Kevin’s mishap and our tour up Tamarack Peak!

Get Active ;) this Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

This post comes from TMS Ambassador – Coral Taylor, an avid mountain biker, yogi, snowboarder and outdoor enthusiast living in Truckee, CA. Follow @c_ros on Instagram for rad photos of her adventures around Lake Tahoe and beyond. In addition to getting after it on the snow, Coral is also a Team LUNAChix Tahoe Mountain Bike Team Ambassador!

So, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and if you want to rail against the Hallmark establishment and write this off as a bogus holiday that encourages consumer spending, blood diamonds, and making singles feel less-than, all the power to you. In that case, consider February 14 to be Lupercalia and howl at the injustice.

However, if you want to celebrate the day with your significant other, there a lot of fun, and free, or inexpensive ideas out there that involve spending time together getting active, not just eating an over-priced dinner at a busy restaurant or buying each other jewelry and cuff links. (Bonus: physical activity and conquering fears lead to increased libido, saving you money on those oysters!)

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Après Snow Yoga

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
(Photo: Coral Taylor)

(Photo: Coral Taylor)

This post comes from TMS Ambassador – Coral Taylor, an avid mountain biker, yogi, snowboarder and outdoor enthusiast living in Truckee, CA. Follow @c_ros on Instagram for rad photos of her adventures around Lake Tahoe and beyond. In addition to getting after it on the snow, Coral is also a Team LUNAChix Tahoe Mountain Bike Team Ambassador!

Winter is here! And even though the snow is not, per se, “epic”, it’s still fun to get out there and enjoy it! Whether your sport is snowboarding, skiing, XC skiing, snowshoeing, or backcountry exploring, your body and mind will appreciate some post-effort recovery.

After a day (or even a couple hours) of playing in the snow, I like to incorporate a little bit of yoga to help my muscles relax and to release any tension I might have (from dodging tourists on mountain run, making backcountry decisions, and driving to and fro).

I have found the following yoga poses to be beneficial in stretching the key muscles engaged, as well as improving strength, coordination and proprioception.

Dancer aka Lord of the Dance, Natarajasana

Dancer (7)

(Photo: Coral Taylor)

A modified version of this pose will allow you to stretch the quadriceps, the psoas, and work on your balance, without putting too much strain on your back. This is fun to try in the parking lot, once you have your snow boots on (ski boots NOT recommended due to their low coefficient of friction).

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How to Choose the Perfect Stove for Backpacking and Camping

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

how-to-pick-the-best-backpacking-stove


Compressed Gas vs. Liquid Fuel Stoves

One burns more fuel than the next. This one weighs less, but this boils water faster. You’ll be in windy, sub-zero temperatures at the top, but basecamp is in the desert and you want one stove to do it all. Or, one for each. In this video, Mountain Safety Research (MSR) and Tahoe Mountain Sports talk with Tahoe Rim Trail Guides about the various camping and backpacking stove options, edited down to everything you could ever want to know in 12-minutes:

 

Key Benefits

Compressed Gas
Lightweight and compact. No spills means no cleaning. Best flame control. No fuel odors or priming/pumping required.

Liquid Fuel
Greater heat output. Unaffected by altitude or cold temperatures. Most affordable. Reusable and easily disposable. Widespread fuel choices.

 

Key Drawbacks

Compressed Gas
Empty canisters must be packed out and disposed of (check with your local recycling center). Difficult to gauge fuel level (pack an extra canister). Performance decreases as canister empties. Usually less stable.

Liquid Fuel
Heavier/bulkier. Require pumping/priming. Fuel lines can clog. More field maintenance required. Leaking fuel requires wiping. Soot builds up on cookware.

Best For

Compressed Gas
Ultralight backpacking.

Liquid Fuel
Group camping. Winter camping & melting snow. High altitudes. International travel.

Key Notes
– Use a windscreen with liquid fuel stoves to enhance performance, but be careful doing so with canister stoves because they can overheat and explode!
Always pack an extra lighter and/or waterproof matches.

Comparison Chart

Product Fuel Type Weight (oz) Boil Time Burn Time
(200 ml/gm)
Heat Output
(BTU)
Retail
Snow Peak GigaPower Stove
Snow Peak Gigapower
Canister 3.75 3 min 48 sec (1 Liter) 50 min 10,000 $49.95
Snow Peak LiteMax Stove
Snow Peak LiteMax
Canister 1.9 4 min 25 sec (1 Liter) 50 min 11,200 $59.95
Jetboil Flash Cooking System
Jetboil Flash
Canister 14 2 min 30 sec (.5 Liter) 120 min 4,500 $99.95
Jetboil Sol Titanium Cooking System
Jetboil Sol Titanium
Canister 10.5 2 min 15 sec (.5 Liter) 120 min 4,950 $159.95
MSR Pocket Rocket Stove
MSR Pocket Rocket
Canister 3 3 min 30 sec (1 Liter) 60 min 10,000 $39.95
MSR Reactor Stove
MSR Reactor (1.7 L)
Canister 17.5 3 min (1 Liter) 104 min 9,400 $199.95
MSR Dragonfly Stove
MSR Dragonfly
White Gas 14 3 min 30 sec (1 Liter) 42 min 10,500 $139.95
Kerosene 14 3 min 54 sec (1 Liter) 51 min
Diesel 14 3 min 30 sec (1 Liter) 46 min
MSR XGK-EX Stove
MSR XGK-EX
White Gas 13.2 3 min 30 sec (1 Liter) 37 min 10,500 $159.95
Kerosene 13.2 2 min 48 sec (1 Liter) 33 min
Diesel 4 min 30 sec (1 Liter) 57 min
MSR Whisperlite
MSR Whisperlite
White Gas 11 3 min 54 sec (1 Liter) 46 min 9,500 $89.95
MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove
MSR Whisperlite
Universal
White Gas 11.5 3 min 30 sec (1 Liter) 110 min 9,500 $139.95
Kerosene 11.5 4 min 24 sec (1 Liter) 155 min
Canister 9.5 3 min 48 sec (1 Liter) 75 min
MSR Whisperlite International Stove
MSR Whisperlite
International
White Gas 10.9 3 min 30 sec (1 Liter) 110 min 9,500 $99.95
Kerosene 10.9 3 min 24 sec (1 Liter) 155 min

*Did we miss any important features you think shouldn’t have been overlooked? Please let us know in the comments section (below).

 

Running For Two: Healthy Tips For Active Mothers During Pregnancy

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Can I run while pregnant? Is it healthy for my baby, and my own body, to run during pregnancy?

work in sweats mama

 

Nicole Goodman is an avid runner, occasional triathlete, and forever outdoor enthusiast. Her idea of a fabulous vacation involves lots of GORP while backpacking in the National Park system, although trail running and stand-up paddle boarding in Hawaii are close seconds. She writes about motherhood, running, travel, and her obsession with athletic apparel at Work in Sweats Mama.

 

 

I am a runner. I’ve raced the mile to the marathon and pretty much everything in between.

When I found out I was expecting in 2009, I had no intention of swapping my active lifestyle for a sedentary pregnancy.

Thankfully, long gone are the days of letting your running shoes gather dust for nine months!

My OB knew I was a runner, so she wasn’t surprised when I walked into my first prenatal appointment and bombarded her with questions about pregnancy and fitness.

Pregnancy is not the time to crank up your mileage or train for a marathon, but my OB gave me the all-clear to keep running, as long as I felt comfortable.

I decided to take it day-by-day, and I promised myself I’d only run as long as I felt comfortable and safe.

Now I’ve got bragging rights for life! I ran through both of my pregnancies, even logging three miles the day I went into labor with my first.

And when it was show-time, labor and delivery went pretty darn smooth and quick, a fact I attribute to my overall fitness and endurance…and a little help from a fabulous epidural!

My postpartum recovery was also faster, and I was running just three weeks after my girls arrived.

nicole goodman creek crossing

Nicole doesn’t have any major prego pics, but in this early-stage race she placed 3rd Overall.

If you’re a fierce and fearless mama-to-be, follow these tried & true tips:

    • Talk to Your Doctor – Start an open, honest dialogue with your doctor at your first appointment, so she can provide the best advice and care throughout your pregnancy. If your OB tells you exercise isn’t advisable or permissible, consider switching doctors.
    • Listen to Your Body – Some days it really is better to skip your workout, put your feet up, and watch trashy TV. Your body is working overtime, so don’t feel guilty when you need to swap a run for a nap.
    • Grin & Bear It – You’re going to get funny looks and inappropriate comments from total strangers and concerned family. The sweet little lady on the next treadmill will repeatedly ask if you’re all right. Others will be more direct and downright rude. Just smile politely, nod, and keep on running!

      nicole goodman trail running

      Nicole also took 3rd Overall in this trail race.

    • Stay Hydrated – Keep your favorite water bottle handy and drink. All. The. Time. Hydration is critical for both mom and baby during pregnancy.
    • Be Prepared for Pit Stops – With the extra water and increased pressure on your bladder, you’re going to feel like you need to pee. All. The. Time. Plan your routes around clean, public restrooms.
    • Less Trails, More Treadmills – I love trail running, but I stuck to smooth road and treadmill runs during my pregnancies. As your center of gravity shifts, you may feel less stable and more wobbly. Minimize the risk of falling by avoiding technical trails and rough roads.
    • Find a Buddy – I rarely ran alone when I was pregnant. Enlist your running buddies so there’s always someone to help in case of a fall or accident. If you do run solo, let someone know.
    • Support Your Girls & Bump – Your belly isn’t the only part of your body that will expand during pregnancy. Give the girls the TLC they need with the most supportive sports bra you can find. While you’re at it, splurge on some new running shorts or skort to accommodate your blossoming bump.
    • Treat Your Feet – Keep your tootsies, knees, and joints happy with proper footwear. Your feet may grow during pregnancy, so make sure your shoes are the right size.
  • Forget About Time & Pace – Early in pregnancy, you won’t notice a huge difference in pace, but you may be too tired or nauseous to log your normal miles. As pregnancy progresses, you’ll transition from a run to a jog and finally to a wog (waddle + jog). Leave your pedometer, watch with GPS, and expectations at home, and you’ll be much happier.

Most importantly, just keep moving! You may discover running isn’t the best prenatal exercise for you, and that’s okay!

There are countless ways to stay fit and fabulous throughout your pregnancy, whether it’s running, swimming, hiking, yoga, or spinning. While some activities, like downhill skiing, water skiing, and horseback riding are off-limits, most exercises are safe in every trimester. When in doubt, consult your doctor.

Before you know it, you’ll be crossing the finish line of the best race ever and meeting your baby for the first time!

Team JaS Racing: Tahoe Locals’ High-Performance Ironman Seminar

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Sherwick and Jami Min, a couple of local Ironman triathletes who moved to the Tahoe area so they could train at high-altitude, are coming to Tahoe Mountain Sports to share their racing experience during a fun and educational seminar on September 18 from 5 to 6 p.m. We are excited to learn more about how to train our bodies (and minds) to perform their very best, and we’re sure any attendees (Ironman triathletes or not) will take away loads of useful information to apply toward their own athletic performances.

Team JaS racing

One discussion topic of the evening: How Motorsport Helps Multisport

Team JaS Seminar: “Habits for High Performance”

Here are some topics we will be covering which will help you have your own epic day:

Setting Up Base Camp For Peak Performance – tips on training including technique, aerobic/anaerobic periodization, strength and flexibility

The Fourth Event – tips on fueling and recovery including micro/macro nutrients, nutrition periodization, body fat, sleep, massage

Make Racing Enjoyable – tips on race prep including equipment choices, key workouts, benchmarking vs. time trials, race simulations, tune-up events

How Motorsport Helps Multisport – tips on mental fitness including facing your fears, motivation, concentration, setting goals using inputs vs. outputs

Jami_run_Timberman

Jami at Ironman Timberman

 

Sherwick_run_Timberman

Sherwick at Ironman Timberman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bio of Team JaS (pronounced “jaz”)

My wife and I are a Team in Training AND in Racing. We have always been drawn to outdoor challenges, and in fact met during a rough-water swim in Santa Cruz! We each started competing in duathlons and triathlons in the early 90’s. Since then, we have traveled the world in search of epic destination races (over 30 Ironmans) and are extremely thrilled that the destination this time is our own home town! Over the past twenty years, we have been privileged to cross paths with some of the sport’s most provocative personalities and have been personally mentored/coached by triathlon legend The Grip himself, six-time Hawaii Ironman World Champion, Mark Allen. We’ve had some success as well, each qualifying for Kona in our very first Ironman and then returning for redemption another couple of times! Lately we’ve been focusing on the half-ironman distance and will have raced in the past four 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas (including the one two weeks before Ironman Lake Tahoe). We wanted to share with you some things we’ve learned along the way as well as from our racing adventures outside of multi-sport.

 We hope to see you there!

Sneak preview – Jami shot this quick tip for the best wetsuit transition with Ironman legend Mark Allen:

Visit Sherwick and Jami’s multimedia page at Team JaS Racing for more educational videos about triathlon training and preparation.

Keeping Hydrated at Burning Man: Tips and Tricks

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

“Adding some flavorless electrolytes to a batch of sangria reduces it’s dehydrating effect.”

This post comes from Todd Shimkus, Web Ninja Master and occasional blogger at TMS. When Todd’s not managing our website and online store, you’ll find him climbing the Sierra’s infinite granite or floating through powdery clouds of cold smoke.

Burning Man is held in a dry lake bed in Nevada’s high desert. Daytime temperatures can soar over 100° F and the relative humidity is almost non-existent. Alkali dust covers everything that enters the Black Rock Desert and it sucks the moisture out of you in a process similar to mummification. Burning Man’s Emergency Services Department reports hundreds of cases of dehydration each year.

The desert is trying to kill you.

Steve Jurvetson - httpwww.flickr.comphotosjurvetson293864829

Wild horses enter a desert battle scene from stage left.

Fortunately, dehydration is an easily preventable malady. Dehydration can be prevented, and even reversed, through…are you ready for this?…HYDRATION. Liquid water, when taken orally, is absorbed in the stomach and small intestine, and directly into the bloodstream. The water is then transported to the sweat glands where it is excreted onto the skin as a cooling mechanism, and finally evaporated by the hot sun – thus completing the vicious cycle of hydration.

How much water?

How much water do I need? The official Burning Man survival guide requires 1.5 gallons per person, per day. Granted, this equation factors in a little extra water for things like cooking and washing, but you should probably drink at least a gallon of water each day. “Piss clear” is a popular mantra in Black Rock City, and even the name of a long-running newspaper on the playa. It is sound advice, as the color of your urine is a good indication of your hydration level. The darker the color, the more dehydrated you may be.

Hydration should be a constant activity. This is especially true if you are consuming diuretics like caffeine, alcohol, or any chemical stimulants. These substances are known to increase dehydration so you will need to compensate for the extra water loss. I recommend double-fisting. If you are enjoying an ice cold beer in one hand you should intermittently drink water with the other. It’s almost [but not entirely] impossible to drink too much water.

burning-man-black-rock-desert

Electrolytes

H2O is not the only part of the hydration equation (yes, the term is slightly misleading). Electrolytes are also critical to staying hydrated. Electrolytes are water-soluble ions in the form of salts, acids and bases, and are necessary for basic cellular function. The human body requires several electrolytes to function normally, including sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), chloride (Cl), calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+), bicarbonate (HCO3), phosphate (PO42-) and sulfate (SO42-).

How do we get these electrolytes? Well, lots of ways:

  • Salty snacks – Munching on some salty snacks throughout the day will replenish the salts lost by sweating throughout the day. Roasted and salted nuts and seeds, pretzels, crackers, chips, cheese, and a whole host of other tasty treats. Bacon, which is often the foundation of the burner food pyramid, has plenty of sodium and potassium.
  • Coconut water – High in potassium, young coconut water is renowned for its ability to re-hydrate. Whole young coconuts pack the most electrolyte content but are perishable and may not survive long in the desert heat. Cans or cartons of coconut water, on the other hand, do not require refrigeration and their containers will pack out easily.
  • Electrolyte mix and tablets – I love Nuun electrolyte tabs. One tablet turns a bottle of water into a fizzy and tasty concoction of electrolytes and fruit flavors. I typically keep a tube on me for my playa travels to add a little extra electrolyte goodness to my water bottle.
  • Electrolyte add-ins – Electrolyte add-ins are virtually flavorless electrolyte concentrates that can be added to water or other drinks to impart those magical ionizing salts that make us tick. Elete electrolyte mix is all-natural and made with four essential electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, potassium and chloride. Since it has very little flavor I like to use it as an additive for cocktails. Adding some flavorless electrolytes to a batch of sangria reduces it’s dehydrating effect.
  • Powdered sport drink mixes – You can find powdered Gatorade, Powerade or some other variety of flavored sports-ade at any grocery store. This is more economical than buying a case of bottled sport drinks and you end up with less waste to schlep at the end of the week. These drinks typically contain a lot of refined sugar and artificial colors, so keep an eye out for a low-sugar or “natural” version – unless you like the idea of drinking lots of salty Kool-Aid.
  • Homemade rehydration solution – A quick online search for “electrolyte drink recipe” will yield hundreds of thousands of simple re-hydrating drink recipes. Most contain a little table salt, some form of sugar, a little baking soda, and some citrus (for flavor and vitamin C). Take a look around and find one that works for you.

 

Choosing the right vessel

What is the best way to carry your water or electrolyte-rich hydration solution around fabulous Black Rock City?

burning-man-black-rock-desert

The author awaits a RARE desert downpour.

That comes down to personal preference, but I would strongly discourage bottled water and soft drinks. Not just because it is wasteful, but they are also inconvenient. There are no trash or recycling containers at Burning Man. If you head out for a long adventure on the playa with a few containers of bottled water you will find yourself carrying around the empties all day.

Refillable water containers are definitely the way to go. But what kind?

  • Hydration packs – Colloquially known as “Camelbacks” or “camel packs”, these hydration reservoir equipped backpacks are a really convenient way to travel with plenty of water and other playa essentials. Contrary to popular belief, there are many brands besides Camelbak that manufacture high-quality hydration backpacks. Some people don’t like wearing hydration packs on the playa since they can appear too utilitarian and unfashionable to go with their steampunk / gypsy / hot dog / bedouin / robot / geisha / chicken / Santa / martian ensemble. Many crafty burners decorate their hydration packs to better coordinate with their style.
  • Water bottles – Fill a reusable water bottle from the big jug at camp and you’ll be adequately prepared for a long expedition to the deep playa. Make sure it is at least a liter. Any less and you’ll be selling yourself short. My go-to has always been my 40 oz stainless steel water bottle with a carabiner that I can attach to a shoulder bag or sling. If you want to keep your drink cold consider a double-walled bottle and a handful of ice from the cooler
  • Soft bottles – These hybrid water vessels get their own category because they are both and neither hydration reservoirs or water bottles. Soft water bottles are great because the bottle gets smaller as your drink gets smaller, and when it’s gone you are left with a flat plastic sheet that you can roll up and tuck away. This is a great alternative to hydration systems if you aren’t too fond of sucking water through a hose.

You can never bring too much water to Burning Man but you can definitely bring too little. Err on the side of caution. Worst case scenario, if you over-pack that liquid goodness you get to wash up at the end of the week or gift it to your neighbors. Stay moist, and see you on the playa!

Wild Horses photo credit Steve Jurvetson - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/293864829
Black Rock/Emigrant photo credit Patrick Nouhailler http://www.flickr.com/photos/patrick_nouhailler/8691259831/

Ironman Lake Tahoe: Preparing For A Triathlon Race At Altitude

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Carrie Barrett is a USAT Level 1 coach, endurance athlete, and freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. She is a monthly contributor to Austin Fit Magazine and her other articles have appeared on Ironman.com, TrainingPeaks.com and Lavamagazine.com.

Tahoe Mountain Sports is proud to welcome the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe on September 22nd.  This event features a 2.4-mile swim on the waters of  North Lake Tahoe, a 112-mile bike with picturesque views of the lake and natural surroundings,  and a 26.2-mile run that starts and finishes at Squaw Valley. About 3,000 athletes from all over the world are registered for this race, which is sure to become a new favorite on the Ironman circuit for its beautiful scenery, pristine waters, and family-friendly atmosphere. The average elevation of Lake Tahoe and its surroundings is just over 6,000 feet and, according to Ironman.com, the bike course will actually climb to over 7,200 feet.

ironman-lake-tahoe

Training for an Ironman is certainly rigorous, but athletes coming from sea level or lower elevation must also be aware of the effects that altitude will have on their bodies. It’s not uncommon to feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, and short of breath as your body adapts to less oxygen. Colten Smith, mountain climber and owner of Altimax Training in Austin, Texas,  and Meredith Terranova, ultra endurance athlete, coach, and owner of Eating and Living Healthy were kind enough to provide many helpful tips for athletes racing at altitude. Follow this advice to prepare yourself as much as possible, and when you get to Tahoe be sure to visit Tahoe Mountain Sports for many race needs and supplies. They’re located directly across the street from the swim-bike transition in Kings Beach, CA.

Intermittent Hypoxic Training– As an avid mountain and glacier climber, Colten Smith wanted to do as much as he could prior to his climbs to prepare for the altitude. After researching both hypoxic tents and intermittent hypoxic training (IHT) machines, he felt that the IHT machines were better for his performance. “I tested a tent for 30 minutes,” he said. “You essentially zip yourself in a plastic bag that blows in air with reduced oxygen. I didn’t think it would be comfortable for me to sleep in a hot and noisy tent, especially since sleep is also crucial to altitude adjustment.” In 2004, he opened Altimax Training that serviced anyone looking to perform better at higher altitudes. With IHT, you mimic interval training by wearing a mask for five minutes and then taking it off for five minutes. While the mask is on, they dial the oxygen back to about 12% and monitor blood oxygen levels. They are looking for about 78-80% blood oxygen level in the first five minutes. At this point, your body starts excreting its natural erythropoietin (EPO) and tells the body to produce more red blood cells. After a session or two, your body will adapt to the 12% oxygen level, so they’ll begin to decrease it further. The goal with IHT is to train the body to become more efficient at dealing with less and less oxygen. An optimum level is 9-10%, which simulates an altitude of 21,600 ft. Each session lasts about an hour and Colten recommends a protocol of five days per week for about four weeks leading up to your event.

While intermittent hypoxic training may not be available in your area, there are certainly other things you can do and foods you can eat to prepare your body for the inevitable effects of racing at altitude.

vapur-soft-bottle

Collapsible soft water bottles are ideal for training and travel.

Train At Altitude- If possible, visit the course or similar elevation prior to race day to feel the effects that the altitude will have on your body. Know and understand what physiological changes will take place when you move to air with less oxygen.

Hydration – The minute you become dehydrated, your body’s ability to deal with the altitude is diminished. At altitude, humidity decreases and the air is colder and dryer. Naturally, you begin breathing harder and expelling more moisture. Both Smith and Terranova express the importance of hydration prior to leaving for elevation. “I teach clients that there is absolutely no replacement for being well hydrated and in electrolyte balance when going to higher altitude,” stresses Terranova. “This means treating your environment, especially if you are from a warmer climate, like you are still in the heat.” She recommends 60-100 ounces of decaffeinated fluids per day with electrolyte supplements such as Nuun tablets. Smith also recommends loading up on hydration both before you leave and as soon as you get past security at the airport. “Fill up or buy a couple of water bottles as soon as you get on the plane,” he recommends, “and stay hydrated at your destination.” Athletes may consider a Vapur water bottle that travels well and collapses down to almost nothing, hardly taking up any space in the suitcase.

When to Arrive at Altitude– Examples and research are showing that, if possible, it is best to either arrive about 24 hours before your event or at least a week prior to get fully acclimated. College and professional athletes who travel to altitude for games usually wait until the night before or even the day of the event to fly since they aren’t able to get up there several weeks in advance. In essence, they are trying to beat the effects that the altitude will have on their abilities to extract as much oxygen out of the air as possible. The two-to-four day window is not recommended, but if this is your only option, remember to begin the hydration process prior to departure.

wigwam-ironman-socks

Wigwam Ironman Enduro Socks

Dress for Altitude Success- On race day, Smith recommends protecting extremities like your hands and feet, especially if the morning will be cold. Try Wigwam Ironman Endur Pro Socks. The air will be dryer and cooler at elevation. Your body wants to keep blood near the heart, which is why your fingers and toes get cold and have a hard time warming up. Athletes may want to wear gloves and extra socks for the morning, but don’t overdress. Wearing too many layers will actually start the sweating process which will, in turn, start the dehydration process. Plan to be a little cool at the start and wear moisture-wicking material to keep the moisture inside. Also, think about changing socks in between the bike and run to keep your feet dry.

Manage Expectations- Legendary mountain climber, Scott Fischer, once said, “It’s attitude, not altitude.” Your race day attitude will ultimately determine your success. This is certainly true at any elevation, but it’s vital to realize that you simply won’t be able to go as hard or as fast as you can at sea level. Don’t fight it. Instead, set realistic goals and expectations when racing at altitude. Understand that if you are struggling, it doesn’t mean you aren’t fit. It simply means your body cannot utilize the oxygen at that level. Slow yourself down and take in plenty of hydration. Work with your coach to determine realistic goals for racing at 6,000+ feet of elevation.

Wear Sunscreen- The air temperature is cooler and dryer at altitude, so many people coming from sea level severely underestimate the power of the sun. Wearing sunscreen during your Ironman is a must, especially since you’ll be exposed for most of the day. Take advantage of volunteers outside of transition who may be applying sunscreen. Five extra seconds can save you days worth of painful showers. At Tahoe Mountain Sports, they recommend Sol Sunguard Altitude SPF 40 Sunscreen.

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SOL Altitude Sunscreen

Training Tips for Success – If you don’t live at elevation and don’t have access to intermittent hypoxic training, Terranova does recommend adding in some specific hill training and high intensity interval training to boost maximal oxygen intake (VO2 max) and increase aerobic fitness. She also recommends breath-control swim sets (hypoxic breathing) where you breathe every seven or nine strokes. The goal of training for a race at altitude is to best prepare your body for the rigors of having less oxygen to utilize. Again, it’s important to work with a coach who understands a good training balance and the effects that altitude will have on your body. These intense workouts aren’t recommended every day.

As a climber, Smith and numerous experts also recommend that, if possible, once you go to a higher altitude environment, it is best to sleep lower than the maximum amount you reached. For example, if you head to Tahoe to train at 6,000 feet, Smith recommends sleeping at a lower altitude. Consider this when looking for hotels and race accommodations. There will be several thousand people looking for lodging this weekend, so you may try heading down from the mountains in either direction toward Reno or Sacramento.

Eat for Altitude Success – Terranova recommends foods and vitamins shown to help with altitude and increase red blood cell production. These include foods rich in iron like red meat, dark leafy greens (spinach), beans and lentils. Folic acid is also important and found in foods like dark leafy greens (kale and spinach), beans, peas, and nuts. Athletes also want to consume foods high in B-12 and B-6 which also include dark leafy greens, red meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds. As Terranova notes, vegetarian and vegans have plenty of food options to increase their red blood cell count!

Beware of companies trying to sell supplements to decrease effects of altitude. Across the board, notes Terranova, both Vitamin C (500-1000mg) and L-glutamine were solid recommendations. With L-glutamine, the easiest way to get it is to take a Branch Chain Amino Acid supplement, which also helps with inflammation and recovery.

While you certainly can’t erase the physiological effects that altitude has on your body, these tips provide ways to prepare for and decrease those effects. Best of luck at the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe!

training-at-altitude

The author takes in a great view from higher elevation.

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