Mount Toubkal November 2017

Recent trip to Morocco to recce the upcoming #UfcAdventureSeries trek on Mt Toubkal and my Speed Summit Attempt whilst there, the benefits of altitude training and the target races I’ve chosen before my Record Attempt next May.

As anyone who knows me will testify my attention to detail and overriding OCD always comes into play when organising events, training for events and prepping performance clients for their chosen challenges. It’s with this in mind that I arrived in Morocco last week with a tight schedule spread across just 3 full days to establish: the logistics of the upcoming #UfcAdventureSeries Toubkal Trek in January, learn the routes, completely risk assess and ultimately smash a rapid non acclimatised ascent to see just how my body would respond to this physical challenge (p.s I wouldn’t recommend this).

Arriving in Morocco I was presented with temperatures hovering around 31 degrees which was cause for concern as was prepared for a winter ascent of Mt Toubkal. Never the less after a 65km transfer to Imlil at 1700m above sea level and the gateway to the main route to ascend Mt Toubkal the temperature had reduced considerably to around 16 degrees and I settled in for my first night having prepped my equipment before an EARLY start the next day.

8am: I was on the trail with my pack weighing 32lb due to additional water and food as I was aware that I might have to be completely self sufficient for 48hrs. The pace was consistent I wouldn’t call it particularly fast and after 3.5hrs I arrived at 3000m after a long uphill grind at the official refuges . This would normally take 5-6hrs as stated in the guide book and be the end of day 1 on an official trek but for me this marked lunch time. After a series of “guides” telling me I was too late to summit today I ignored their advice and 25mins later I was on the move again pushing from 3000m to the summit of 4167m I was aware of the thinning air for this next stage which I covered in 3hrs (guide book states (5hrs) and was pleased to see the summit come into view.

The summit afforded me 360 degree views across the mountain range and beyond to the Sahara desert and was the warmest I’d felt all day as I’d mainly climbed in the shadow all afternoon and there was no wind at all on the summit. I spent 25mins soaking in the atmosphere and enjoyed a can of Juicy Fuel Cola provided by my official drink sponsors. This kick started my energy again as I knew I’d have to concentrate whilst descending safely .
1.5hrs later I was back in the refuge at 3000m and warming up taking care of my personal admin , preparing my evening meal of chilli and rice with a dessert of porridge oats with sultanas and apple flakes.

After a broken sleep due to other climbers making their pre-dawn summit attempt I got back on the trail after another hot meal of Beans and sausages with a porridge sachet and descended back down to Imlil in a very leisurely fashion compared to the day before over 4hrs.

Even for this short period of time at altitude I feel like the physical adaptations have been apparent in my training upon returning.

So why train at altitude and how can it benefit my #Run268 record attempt?

By climbing summits of over 3000m the air is noticeably “thinner” at high altitudes meaning there are fewer oxygen molecules per volume of air. Every breath taken at a high altitude delivers less of what working muscles require. … By training at high altitudes, athletes aim to allow their bodies to produce extra red blood cells as the demand for oxygen delivery becomes higher it must adapt to make up for the shortfall.

In return running on routes under 2000m I should be saturated with red blood cells meaning that I require less breaths to achieve fulfilment.

#Run268 Target Races: I love racing and the ultimate high that comes with racing. It would be really easy for me to race multiple times each month but there is no longevity in that approach for a record attempt of over 250 miles.

For me it’s about training smart and peaking for just 3 target races prior to the record attempt. These races will be:

3rd Feb :Thames Trot 50mile
14th April: Calderdale Hike 40mile
28th April: The Fellsman 62mile

Some of these will be part of huge training blocks or followed by a huge effort within days of the above race.

Dave Stevens
Urban Fitness Company

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