Post By: Darren Brown – Husband/Father/Coach
This past year, Sarah partook in her second ever altitude trip. In 2013, she trained in Flagstaff for a little over 4 weeks and, after coming back down for a few weeks, went on to run the World “A” Standard of 4:05 (her first 1500m PR since 2009) at the OXY HP Meet. In 2014, an unfortunate injury kept Sarah from going to her second altitude trip, but we were able to get a great trip in this year. Here’s the rundown …
As much as we both enjoyed Flagstaff in 2013, we knew it wouldn’t be an option this time around due to my work requirements in Solana Beach, CA. Fortunately, we had another altitude destination only 2.5hrs away in Big Bear, CA.
In addition to that, we could not have been more appreciative of the work flexibility ElliptiGO provided me during the time Sarah would be up there. Every Friday I would head in to work around 5:30am. Then, at mid-day, I would drive north and meet Sarah at the bottom of the mountain for a sea level session. After a post-workout dinner, we would drop one car off at the base and head back up the mountain together, where I would stay until Tuesday morning, working remote from the cabin on Mondays. On Tuesday, we would wake up at 3:45am and I would drive down the mountain while Sarah continued to sleep in the passenger seat. We would pick up the other car at the base where we had left it, drive to our workout destination and get started. After the workout, Sarah would head back up the mountain and I’d head back to Solana Beach, where I would spend the rest of the week in the office until it was time to head north again on Friday.
The schedule was tough and the month was long, but we were happy with the work she put in. Not every session was a slam-dunk, and one was just downright disastrous … but that’s training. Add in that Sarah, typically a morning workout person, was having to do sessions in the afternoon heat on Fridays (her “fast” day) after driving an hour down the winding mountain road, and you can understand why some adjustments were needed. That said, I have come to feel that Big Bear may be one of the most underrated altitude destinations in the country. With an affordable rental market, average temperature of 65 degrees for the month that we were there and the ability to go from 7000ft to sea level in an hour, it’s hard to beat.
My flexible work week and Sarah’s weekly training regimen also meant that the only two runs she really had to do on her own each week were her Wednesday 10 milers and easy Thursday double. Even the Thursday double only meant doing one run solo, as her ElliptiGO made the trip and remained her go-to cross-training session for almost all doubles.
Sarah’s Altitude Schedule:
In addition to my time up there, Sarah also took our two dogs with her (Sophie and Solana) and had the opportunity to get together with fellow New Balance teammate, Brenda Martinez, who lives up there year-round. This made an otherwise distant situation seem home-like and comfortable.
Overall, we were really happy with this training trip. Sarah came down from altitude to open up her season with a debut 5k at the Carlsbad 5000 and, despite waking up sick the morning of the race, was still able to pull out the top American finish. This was a great start to a season that would eventually see a few wins and both 800m (2:01.2) and 1500m (4:03.2) PRs.
Altitude will continue to be a valuable part of Sarah’s training going forward. While she may not be able to make a trip during her pregnancy, we are already planning a trip leading into the Olympic Trials … stay tuned!