Well, that went rather well. I finished the month just missing my 10,000-meter climbing goal by 200-300 meters. My left knee just hurt too much to push it for a simple walk up the stairs today. I thought it better to relax and let it get better. Yesterday I did a double on the other mountain I run up – it’s a trail to the peak. That was a 9.3 mile (15km) run up to the top, down to the bottom, up to the top, and back down. Total elevation gain – 1,000 meters. Apparently, that was too fast and too much. Will revisit the 10,000-meter goal again in a couple months.
Some things I learned about climbing 10,000 meters elevation gain in 31 days:
1. Respect the challenge. I’ve been doing 6,000 – 7,000 meters gain most months and it hasn’t been a problem at all. I also do a lot of horizontal running with no vertical gain during those months. I just thought it would be so simple to do 10,000 vertical meters that I could go at 90% maximum effort like I always do. I shouldn’t have, but I did that for the first 20+ days. I felt the effort a lot more than I should have by today! Slow down, enjoy the scenery. The goal was to reach 10,000 m, not to race 10,000 meters!
2. Wear a shirt! There are more things in the tropical rainforest that sting than you can count on fingers and toes. I was stung by black ants, termites, a scorpion, a caterpillar, a bee, and some random stuff that may have been bites or maybe small thorns that tagged my legs as I ran by. Today I was covered with these little black-ant biters that give a wicked little bite for not weighing as much as a grain of sand.
3. 1 Degree C = 30 seconds of time. I can run my trail 3.7 km hill in 36 minutes when I push hard when it’s 24C. When it’s 34C I run it in 41, or I have to kill myself to get under 40 minutes. 10C = about 5 minutes at the very maximum effort end of the scale. This is just for the temperatures between 24C to 34C because I’ve only ever measured at these temperatures, and it’s almost always 34C-36C when I run. I don’t know what I would do in 14C temperatures… probably freeze solid.
4. Just like running on the flat, my body kicks into fat-burning mode after about 40 minutes of hard effort on the trail or stairs. It just does it naturally and pretty consistently. I can make it go into fat burning by running for 20 minutes pretty hard then walking for 200-400 meters. That sometimes triggers it. How do I know I’m in fat-burning mode? My breathing evens out. My legs have power. My run feels rather effortless once fat-burning switches on.
5. A sharp pain is not a reason to stop. OK, there are various levels of sharp pain, and I’m not telling you – run through anything! But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my forties now, it’s that a pain is a pain, is a pain. Something hurts on most of my runs. Maybe 80%. When I first start out – it might be my big toe, my ankle, my achilles, my knee, the adductors on my left side. It’s always something. I run through it cautiously for a few minutes, maybe up to fifteen or twenty, and the pain subsides – usually completely.
6. A 50 km ultra-run up and down a mountain would be the worst thing I could think of to do to my body and expect it to survive. I’ll try it next year.
7. I’ve seen 1 other runner on the technical mountain trail I run up. Not during this month. Not this year. EVER. I’ve been there for 6-7 years now. I’ve seen just one person running it besides me and the one other guy I used to bring there to run it with me. That’s profoundly sad to me. It’s an incredible mountain trail!
8. I thought I loved the trail a bit more than I loved climbing the steps. No, I love the trail a hundred times more. Being surrounded by flying lizards, snakes, frogs, cicadas, eagles, bugs of every sort, dirt, vines, biting ants, little deer that come up to my shin, waterfall and stream, jaw-dropping views… there’s no comparison.
9. I need to either find a trail or forge my own up the 1,400-meter mountain peak that is not too far from my home. I think that is going to become my main trail in the near future.
10. Though I’ve tried climbing with friends and alone both, I much prefer alone. I like to see random people on the trail or steps, but I don’t want someone with me to talk to me during my run or stair climb. I just want to be lost in the moment, pushing when I feel the extra energy when I need a challenge. Taking it very easy when I just want to enjoy monkeys howling around me, or whatever the natural sounds of the forest are that day.
10,000 vertical meters in a month – highly recommended!
Next Challenge – a 50 kilometer Ultra-run / walk around the 1.25km loop at the park on the river. This involves no vert at all.