Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mountain Ultras - Race Ready Training Camp

Only 2 weeks ago I was fortunate enough to join Matt Cooper from Ultra Made Coaching to host a "Mountain Ultra Race Ready" training camp. We had decided to approach the camp the way we would our own mountain specific training, with a focus on climbing and descending technique, lightness, and breathing! In between we just wanted to relax and enjoy Bright, a picturesque village at the foothills of the Australian Alps that we were using as our camp base.

I once again packed my trusty '94 Ford Fairmont with the essentials of any running road trip for my 800km journey south to Victoria - sleeping bag, cannister of water, my ever-faithful gas stove, plunger and coffee. 

My faithful companion at a quiet spot I found to sleep the night on the trip down to Bright:

After a quick check-in of 15 very keen runners, many who had already been to previous Ultra Made camps, it was time to hit our first run as the afternoon cooled and the light started to glow twilight colours. Our first run was up a steep fire trail to Clear Spot, then across a ridgeline to Mystic Mt, before a lovely descent down switch-backing single track trail. It was a good start to the camp, with all the runners looking super light, tall and relaxed as they tackled the 1000m climb in 4km. 

Arriving at the top of Clear Spot, Australian Alps in the distance (photo courtesy of Simon Ferraro):

Myself and Jo on the summit of Clear Spot:
NOTE: We were both loving the new Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Belt. I found it super handy to tuck in a camera, some water, and a bar while still feeling light on the hills.

The mountain runners standing tall on Clear Spot's summit, a gorgeous Australian sky behind them:

The trail running along the ridge to Mystic Mt. was like an alley of gum trees begging to be run:

Saturday saw the runners waking up with the dawn and running back out of Bright and to another peak. This time we were going to run some reps up Apex Mt, a smaller but just as challenging climb. Again, we were working on our ability to feel light and relaxed while climbing steep terrain, and then to have a fast, flying descent. 

Myself running up Apex Mt (photo courtesy of Marty from Team Coops):

After our morning run we jumped straight into the river running through Bright to cool off (and forgo a shower!) before heading to breakfast. This is where the routine became lazy! Coffees were drunk at the local, Cafe Velo, naps were taken, and dream races were shared. After lunch all the runners regrouped in the shade for a session on breathing technique and mind-body awareness. Diaphragms were worked, abdominal muscles discovered, and cells recharged and oxygenated!

Myself talking the runners through one of the breathing exercises (photo courtesy of Simon Ferraro):

On Sunday, our last run was on the Mt Buffalo plateau. Most of the runners had never explored this amazing alpine area before, and were truly taken away by the scenery. As we ascended out of the tree line the Australian Alps in all their glory stretched before us, peaking out through a carpet of mist. We felt pretty lucky to be privy to those sights. All the runners put in to practice the last 2 days of learning and had a solid morning of exploring on the plateau.

Ewan climbing up the granite of Mt Buffalo:


Once again, it was a beautiful weekend away with a group that soon became fast friends, joined by their passion for mountains, running, and good coffee. 

Thanks to Matt Cooper for being so giving with your coaching, and to Team Coops for the unconditional support out on the trails!

Stay tuned for more running adventures and training camps to come this year!

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