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TALES FROM THE LIFESTYLE ATHLETE – TREKKING IN ECUADOR
For those who are not currently training for a PR or milestone, I highly recommend going on a trip that provides physical and mental challenges as a means of finding enjoyment and balance in life.
As with most training challenges, there was great satisfaction and reward in the achievement.
In addition to the mindset benefits of a vacation, this trip included the benefits that come from experience of immersion into another culture and another language. The trip included adventure and learning. It challenged us mentally and pushed the limits of our comfort zones.
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Coach Munro is marathon and triathlon athlete and coach who recently moved to New York City from Australia. He is certified by the Athletics Australia as a Level 3 Middle and Long Distance Running Coach. Coach Munro is also a qualified Personal Trainer and Sportsmind Coach. He specializes in helping athletes achieve ‘breakthrough’ races, whether it be their first time at a new distance, or a personal record time.
I was fortunate enough to experience altitude training first hand during a recent trip with my wife to Ecuador. Noting that I’m foremost a lifestyle athlete, rather than attending an altitude training camp for intensive coaching/training, my version of altitude training consisted of a 6 day trek in Ecuador’s “Avenue of the Volcanoes”. The trip was ably led by our guide Christian from Ecuador Pure Life, a person and company we highly recommend and would happily tour with again.
There is no doubt that some people might think “but that’s not training”. While it’s true that my training in Ecuador was not specific, not running, not high intensity interval training, etc., given that I train to be a lifestyle athlete, most things with some element of physical and mental adventure fall within my definition of ‘training’.
We spent the majority of the trip above 10,000 ft, with one day’s peak above 17,000 ft, which provided a great experience of the effects of altitude. Most days included 4-6 hours of trekking. One day included a portion of trekking “off-the-beaten-path”. We relied on the skills of our guide to lead us up the snow-covered mountainside. The trek provided a mental challenge, especially as the weather closed in.
While walking on flats and plateaus, the effects of altitude didn’t seem too harsh. However as soon as we went up inclines or added intensity, we quickly lost breath. A typical incline (think Harlem Hill in Central Park), which at sea level wouldn’t be an issue, became a significant challenge with a few rest stops along the way.
One of the highlights of the trip was an impromptu soccer game with some local children at one of the lunch stops, somewhere in the vicinity of 12,000 ft. In what was a fun, and somewhat humbling experience, the benefits of acclimatization were apparent as the children effortlessly ran rings around us, as we huffed and puffed after only a few steps.
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