A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Crossing Montana off the list & running at altitude

on July 14, 2014

Yesterday, I got to head out into a gorgeous morning to go for a run around the Big Sky resort in Montana.

Gorgeous to watch the sun come up over the mountains!

Gorgeous to watch the sun come up over the mountains!

I’ll confess to you guys that it was hard to drag myself out of my hotel, not because it was especially nice, but because there was a Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family! Still, I got out and was so glad I did.

I love wildflowers!

I love wildflowers!

I didn’t have a resort map to get me to a smoothish path, so I just headed out to explore on my own. I did a hybrid of jogging and hiking, depending on how steep and rocky the terrain was and covered a little over 3 miles.

Even when I was running through parking lots, at the least view was breathtaking!

Even when I was running through parking lots, at the least view was breathtaking!

It was cool and sunny and I felt surprisingly good (so long I wasn’t heading too steeply up-mountain!). I’d done some reading about running at high altitudes before I got to Montana and was prepared to take more walk breaks than usual. When you’re at higher altitude, the oxygen density in the air is lower. Over a bit of time, the body compensates for this by increasing your red blood cells and thus your oxygen carrying capacity. People use this intentionally for training purposes, but for people like me who are just coincidentally visiting high altitudes like I am, there are some things to keep in mind.

– You may feel short of breath or light headed from exerting yourself in a lower oxygen environment. I vividly remember my little brother nearly passing out when we visited Pikes Peak as kids because he was running around excited to see snow! (What I can say – we’re Southerners and snow is always thrilling) You definitely don’t want that to happen while you’re out by yourself – or at all for that matter! Run by feel more than by pace.

– The air can be drier, which in conjunction with your increased exertion and rapid breathing means you can get dehydrated more easily. Thus, even though I was only going 3 miles, I brought my water bottle and made sure to actually drink!

Mountain is drier - drink up!

Mountain is drier – drink up!

– If you’re traveling to a race that’s at higher altitude than usual, either arrive two weeks early so your body can physiologically adapt to the altitude with increased red blood cells or just a day or two so you haven’t gotten fatigued from the low-oxygen environment before you have to run. Given this, I debated doing my long run early this week so I haven’t gotten too worn out, but unless I find some smoother trail to run on, I don’t know that I’ll be doing it while I’m up here. I’m too clumsy to run on a lot of these trails!

Steep and rocky trails!

Steep and rocky trails!

For me, I felt the hills a lot more than I felt the thin air. If I wasn’t going up hill, I actually felt like I could run forever! I attribute that mostly to the scenery and the gorgeous weather.

I was going up more than I was expecting. At least I got to go down, right?

I was going up more than I was expecting. At least I got to go down, right?

I ran a little over two miles before I spied a sign for a trail and headed off, or up I should say. There was no running that trail and yet there was a sign for mountain biking on the trail! I’d seriously maim myself!

Can't believe people could bike this trail!

Can’t believe people could bike this trail!

I hiked up for a while and then was able to run again on a smooth section of trail. I’m hoping to pick up a map of the trails today and find some smoother trails as I have a 5 mile on the schedule tomorrow and was hoping to take advantage of the gorgeous scenery for my 7 mile long run this week rather than waiting until Saturday when I’m back in Omaha. Better scenery is a good reason to rearrange my training days, right? 🙂

I tried to run when the trail smoothed out a bit like this.

I tried to run when the trail smoothed out a bit like this.

Today’s training schedule calls for a “Fun Workout.” I’m debating between hiking and horse back riding. There’s a hiking and zip line combination outing that looks tempting. Decisions, decisions. 🙂

Here are links to a couple of the articles I read to learn more about running at high altitude:


5 responses to “Crossing Montana off the list & running at altitude

  1. As much as I LOVE Harry Potter, those are some gorgeous running scenes! Super jealous :0)

    I say go for the hiking/zip-lining trek, it sounds fun!!

    • I went for a hike, but still have the hike/zipline combo trip on my radar for later this week.

      The HP marathon definitely has me wanting to rewatch those movies when I get home.

      Sent from my iPad


  2. I would definitely be tempted by Harry Potter, too! 🙂 Nick has just discovered Harry Potter, so I get to re-experience it with him, which is so fun! With such beautiful scenery, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the fun workouts you mentioned. Horseback riding sounds fun, but so does ziplining! Great tips on high altitude running, too. Looking forward to seeing more pics from your adventures! 🙂

    • Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m a little wary of horseback riding since I haven’t done it in YEARS and have a 7 mile run to do this week. I’m worried sore legs from riding won’t mix well with 7 miles of running on these killer hills!

      Sent from my iPad


  3. […] July, I ran a 10K for my birthday and went running Montana to cross it off of my 50 states list. Montana was so gorgeous! I confess I enjoyed the hiking (complete with a coffee in my “water […]

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