HEAD FOR THE MOUNTAINS!
“Head for the mountains” is both a call to ambitious mountain trail runners & a classic Busch Beer advertising slogan.
Our mountain culture often encourages extreme behavior (total immersion?), from athletic endeavors to night-time socializing in local watering holes.
Sometimes these activities converge over a single weekend. Traditionally the second weekend of September is the last hurrah of Summer before Fall equinox when the nights start to be longer than the days.
So of course, we mark this transition with a hearty combination of high-altitude running races & beer drinking festivals over the September 13 – 15 weekend in both Telluride, CO and Taos Ski Valley, NM.
Bootdoctors has advice and essential gear to help you have the best experience whether you are tipping back a stein or on your tiptoes running up the mountains.
First the advice. (For details on the weekend’s frivolities, skip to the bottom.)
Whether you are hammering the trail or getting hammered at a bar, altitude does indeed affect your performance.
To help you survive your efforts when raising a stein or racing against time, we have assembled some tips for high altitude running and funning.
First, let’s bust a couple myths:
Myth #1 – “There is less percentage of oxygen in high altitude air molecules.” Truth: The percentage of oxygen is the same: 21%. The problem is that due to 30% lower air pressure, molecules are farther apart. Thinner air means less oxygen in each breath.
Myth # 2 – “High altitude makes one drunker.” Truth: One’s BAC is the same as at lower altitude with the same ingestion of alcohol. However, the effects of altitude include dizziness, lightheadedness, unbalance, nausea and headache. Not surprisingly these symptoms feel a lot like intoxication effects.
So, how does one offset the effects of altitude on one’s performance from trail head to bar stool?
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
You often hear this from locals, whether in the context of exercise or imbibing, “Chug water before, during and after a workout and between every glass of alcohol.” Dry air at altitude causes sweat to dry quickly and reduces your body’s normal urge to drink. Use electrolytes to ensure assimilation of the water.
- Take it slow.
Everyone’s body reacts to altitude differently. Your body acclimates by making more red blood cells. This can take 3-4 days. Postpone running or alcohol for a few days if possible. Pace yourself. Walk before you run. Try a leisurely paced walk or run first. (even if you are trying to get to the head of the beer line!)
- Increase carbohydrate intake.
Indulge in your favorite snacks! Higher metabolism at higher altitude means your body needs more fat. So, go ahead, munch on those pretzels!
Slowly move uphill. They recommend 1,000 feet increase in altitude per day which is hard to do in a running race or when vacationing for sure. Your body will acclimatize naturally but be aware one rarely achieves the same physical or mental fitness one has at sea level. So, go ahead – blame the altitude for your memory lapses!
- Feeling low? Go lower.
One thing doctors, coaches and drinking team leaders agree on – the number one antidote to altitude sickness is going to a lower altitude. So, take time to drop 2,238 ft. to visit the historic town of Taos if the Taos Ski Valley thin air at 9,207 feet (2,806 m) is kicking your butt. Or check out the valley in Ridgway, CO, 1,765 feet below Telluride’s 8,750 feet (2,129 m.)
Need more ideas? Visit Bootdoctors.
Our knowledgeable staff can show you the latest hydration pack, personal water bottle, sunscreen, weather resistant clothing and running or hiking shoes. Custom footbeds in your running and walking shoes will help reduce muscle fatigue.
How to completely avoid negative effects of alcohol on your system? It’s simple! Don’t drink! Experts advise folks to forgo any alcohol to avoid exacerbating effects of altitude. Every individual is completely unique in their body’s response to exercise or alcohol in general, especially at altitude, so be smart, listen to your own body and breath deep while enjoying the magnificent view!
Ready, Set, Go!
In Telluride, since 1994 Blues and Brews Festival has hosted legendary musical artists and today features 56 of the best craft breweries in America. Bootdoctors partners with the Telluride Blues Society sponsoring the Blisters and Brews 5K Race to raise funds for Telluride Adaptive Sports Program Saturday September 14th. Who wouldn’t run for free beer? Register at https://www.tellurideblues.com/blisters-brews-5k.
Taos Ski Valley hosts Bull of the Woods Trail Races with a half marathon and Kachina Peak Marathon September 14th. Register at https://www.bullofthewoodsrun.com/.
Rather blow froth off a stein than froth at the mouth in a marathon? How about showing off your polka moves at Taos Oktoberfest? Authentic Schuplatter band, German beer and food, activities and crafts for kids, stein holding contests and so much more.
Get your collector stein online before they run out! https://www.taosskivalley.com/event/oktoberfest-celebration
NOTE: Anyone experiencing severe symptoms of altitude sickness should immediately seek medical attention.
 “after an individual has been exposed to altitude for long periods of time, they will have 30 percent to 50 percent more red blood cells than an individual at sea level, according to Rick Curtis, director of the Outdoor Action Program at Princeton University. The body also creates more capillaries to match the production of new red blood cells. Extra capillaries decrease the distance between the cell and capillary, making it easier to transport oxygen throughout the body.” https://www.livestrong.com/article/455572-what-effects-do-high-altitudes-have-on-the-body/