The first time I ever ran at altitude was this past winter in Mammoth Lakes, California with the Mammoth Track Club—home to incredible athletes, including one of my role models, Deena Kastor. Mammoth is a special place filled with special people, all of whom I look up to for their athletic prowess and also their sense of joy in life. Also, as many of the runners here are marathoners, I feel lucky to learn about the more distance-side of the sport.
I remember my first day at practice, I watched as all the athletes dropped their pop-top-style water bottles into a bucket for Coach Kastor to distribute at various stages in the training run. I had never seen this before. I remember looking at my own regular screw-top water bottle and feeling I’d missed the pop-top memo. The concept of refueling while running was new to me— the truth was, I’d never taken any fluids during a run before.
I learned the importance of hydration while training at altitude. During our workous and runs, I learned to take fluids every couple of miles just like the others around me. And it’s not just about taking in water, but also electrolytes—this is why I relied on (and continue to rely on) EnduroPacks electrolyte spray.
I found that I was able to run faster and longer by taking fluids during the run—hydration not only to helps sustain the run but also to aid in recovery afterwards—to fuel the next run! Even back in my home training grounds in Eugene, I carry my electrolyte spray with me on longer runs.
I returned to Mammoth this September prepared with my pop-top water bottle and EnduroPacks kit. I ran my longest and fastest long run ever—18 miles. It was crucial for me to be properly hydrated before, during, and after the run. I remember one particular segment of the run, at about 16 miles in—I was running uphill, against the wind, and on soft dirt surface. This was further than my body’s comfort zone was familiar with. I wanted to stop! Suddenly, the team van came into view. Sure enough, there was coach with a water bottle in his hand with my name on it—a sip of electrolytes never tasted so good. I made it through the run with a smile on my face and know that it will fuel me, mentally and physically, for many miles ahead.
I am grateful for all that I have learned training up here. I believe in the work we are doing and also have a greater appreciation for the “details” in running—hydration is one of these details. I believe hydration is a choice, and one I am happily committed to before, during, and after my training.
This article was written and contributed by elite runner and olympic hopeful with the Nike Oregon Track Club Elite Team, Alexi Pappas.