Viewing entries tagged
wildfire

How to run in a ventilator

Over on Da Gram, folks I follow from Montana to California have been asking all sorts of questions about me running in a ventilator when it is smoky outside. During summer 2017, I was deeply focused on an ultra running project when the Diamond Creek Fire broke out ten miles from my home in the Methow Valley. Instead of running indoors at the pinner gym in the valley or giving up my gnostic mileage altogether, I decided to innovate.

SOLUTIONS > excuses

Enter: Darth Vader Bitch in no shirt and a power braid. I hope this brief guide keeps you moving on the trails when clouds turn to ash. Enjoy your sore-throat-free run in the smoke!

Brittany Raven


Ventilator model: I am more prone to finding solutions than to allowing adverse running conditions keep me indoors. Last summer I spent most of August and September running and lifting in this ventilator. If it is your first time training in a ventilator, expect a ventilator that is effective in protecting against smoke inhalation to obscure your breathing - it felt like running at about 9000' elevation to me. Be aware of hypoxia due to the restriction of breathing and moderate your pace and the steepness of the terrain you choose to run accordingly.

When to don it: When the air smells like wildfire smoke, when I can't see Mount Gardner from Winthrop, or when I get a slight headache from the smoke I put on my ventilator. This happens around 75 AQI. With the high volume of training I do, I can't chance a case of bronchitis or the presence of a splitting headache anymore than I want to axe a planned run. If a large amount of visible particulate falls from the sky I do a different form of training as I don't want the particulate in my eyes. 

Achieving a seal: Allow the sweat to build up around the ventilator (in the space between skin and plastic) and don't wipe it away. That sweat creates an excellent seal of the mask to your face. Be sure to move the mask aside every fifteen minutes for a bite and a sip. People with facial hair might struggle to get the thing to stick completely to their faces.

The stimulus: Given that the mask will function as yet another stimulus in your training and, paired with the likely heat that will accompany it, you may perceive a dip in performance as your body acclimates. When you restrict oxygen input, your body works furiously to produce more red blood cells. When you add heat, your body increases plasma volume. With these things happening simultaneously your bod is indeed increasing its performance but it will feel discouragingly slow. 

Measuring the stimulus: Pace is nearly always the poorest measurement of training impact; time in zone is nearly always the best way to meter out your endurance production. Quit with the competitive thinking already, learn your CUSTOM/INDIVIDUAL zones, and watch your performance rise while incidences of overtraining, insomnia, and injury decrease. Especially in the mask, releasing the ego's attachment to pace and measuring the success of your run only by time in zone is of vital importance. 

The ANS: Hypoxia leads to the activation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and that is a bad thing for an ultra endurance machine like you. With an activated nervous system during persistent endurance training you risk poor proliferation of oxygen, inappropriate metabolism of your precious calories, poor decision-making, lack of connection with the divine, and even adrenal fatigue. 

Minor logistics: In this model of ventilator I've found a hat to be more compatible sun protection than sunglasses, a high ponytail (power braid suggested) helps hold the dang thing up better than a low pony, and wearing it with headphone cords is a hassle. Be warned that this ventilator obscures your peripheral vision - about as much as if you were wearing ski goggles. Choose your trail surface accordingly.

 

read more:

running in wildfire country

heat training

training in the heat while pregnant

Training in wildfire country

that firelight, tho.

Hey readers,

Here's an update on a post I wrote last summer. Wildfire smoke is, again, blanketing the valley, there's yet another wildfire burning just a handful of miles from my forest home, and I've put on my respirator for runs. 

Keep up the good work and forget your excuses.

Brittany Raven


As the Diamond Creek Fire nears my home in the Methow Valley, I continue my daily running practice. My home, as wild and wily and wonderful as it is, also has extreme seasons. Spanning the negative-teens and three feet of snow on the ground in winter to the sauna-like smoky days of mid-August there is always some complication to getting out the door to run - except in our paradisiac Aprils and Octobers which read like a mineralic rosé or a dense merlot on my tongue according to season.

Just like the e-book I compiled last winter containing my lessons for running in snow, I wanted to provide readers and clients with some fire country know-how to help you keep moving in the hottest summer months. More than sharing my hard-won knowledge about dancing with the changing seasons with you readers, these pieces serve as mantras for me when the extreme conditions get me down and make me consider not running. Here are a few helpful morsels I've gathered this season while I learn to move with the fire.

 

Safety: Being that wildfire can shift quickly, leaving the runner stranded, there are a number of health- and safety-related precautions to take when running the hills during an active wildfire. First: leave a plan with a responsible safety person who is able to call in the necessary support. In that plan include where you're parking, what trail or mountain you're running, with whom, and a time that you will contact them. Be sure to leave the contact information of your local Search and Rescue team with your safety person so they know who to call if you don't get in touch in time. While you're running use good common sense. Sniff the air periodically to judge the behavior of the fire nearby, watch for smoke or unusual animal activity. Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to exit quickly should warning signs present themselves.

Checking conditions: Don't rely on mere gossip or the news to inform you of fire activity - go to the source. Check out the InciWeb page for the fires near you before heading out on your run. Take special caution on windy days. Even though that blessed wind might blow the smoke away and tempt you out to run, it is akin to being called out to ski on the deepest powder days. Just like fresh pow is tempting and potentially lethal, so too are clear skies after a couple smoky days. The wind that clears the skies is the same wind that stokes the wildfire.

Your vehicle: If you're driving to your running destination be sure to have an alternate exit if one is cut off by smoke or flame. Park your car in a conspicuous location to alert FS employees who might serve an evacuation notice while you're on the trail and to make rescue more feasible should you become trapped. If you're running in a particularly remote location leave a note detailing your route and timing on your front seat in case a team drives by to evacuate the area. Fuel up, keep on top of maintenance, and park in a visible location. Nuff said.

The heat: Fire season happens during the hottest part of the year - and here in the Methow Valley that means 100F+ conditions on ten runs in a row this summer. The heat is an excellent training stimulus - if properly-programmed in your training. Start with little bouts of exposure to the heat on your mellow run days before jumping whole-hog into long, hilly, hot runs. I find visualizing my body dissipating into the heat rather than resisting the heat allows me to become more comfortable in intense temperatures. Instead of flushing your body to hyponatremia by drinking only clear water, try this homemade hydration drink. Fill a sixteen ounce hand bottle with ice, add the juice of one lime, spritz in some micronutrient drops, and top it off with water. That bottle will add a good deal of cool to your baking-hot run. 

Ventilator: I am more prone to finding solutions than to allowing adverse running conditions keep me indoors so when the smoke near home persisted this month, I ordered this ventilator. Read the next blog post for more on wearing the ventilator.

The ANS: Hypoxia leads to the activation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and that is a bad thing for an ultra endurance machine like you. With an activated nervous system during persistent endurance training you risk poor proliferation of oxygen, inappropriate metabolism of your precious calories, poor decision-making, lack of connection with the divine, and even adrenal fatigue. If you are unsure how to regulate your nervous system, sign up for a consult with me and I'll teach you the way.

When to bail: If ash falls from the sky, if the smoke is thick enough to make my eyes water, and if there is lightning in the forecast I'll bail or choose a different activity for the day.

 

read more:

heat training

ventilator running

Kettle Crest Trail recovery

The Kettle Range: Barnaby Buttes, Snow, Sherman, Columbia, Wapaloosie, Copper, and Profanity

The Kettle Range: Barnaby Buttes, Snow, Sherman, Columbia, Wapaloosie, Copper, and Profanity

Many of you have been asking how my physical recovery from the Kettle Crest Trail went this time around. My spirit experienced the running culmination of this event in epic hallucinations where I became Raven and even stranger things. While I've been wildly ruminating on the existential aspects of the experience, which are vast and still needing more time to process, my body quickly integrated the event.

The Kettle Crest Trail encompasses about forty-six miles (“about” because estimates range from forty-one to forty-eight and the trail sorely needs re-mapping) and about 8,000 feet gain between elevations of 4,800 feet and 7,200 feet. Unlike other epic mountain runs I’ve enjoyed like the Wonderland or any number of long routes in the Rockies, the KCT is a wily journey and often indistinct or unmaintained. Two old wildfire scars sling their black and silver remnants over the trail. In my seven runs on the Crest I’ve encountered five bears and three moose. The North Kettles are wolf country and are also challenging to navigate due to a recent fire there which has allowed brush to encroach on the faint path. Running this year, I saw a total of two people over the course of the better part of a day.

As with my last run on the Kettle Range in 2017, the latent effects of fetomaternal microchimerism rendered me unable to get sore. The female body is the ultimate endurance machine.

On last year’s run, I was forced by a great dearth of water on the trail to drink from a cattle trough. Consequently, I got giardia (my fourth bout with those little fuckers since 2009) and so my internal recovery from the run took until my course of antibiotics was over a few weeks later. This year, though, I armed myself with iodine tablets and thankfully my gut has felt solid since completing the run.

The day after the run I took a recovery hike. The day after that I took an easy run. The day after that my legs made me run like I was possessed––bottomless energy once again even after the FKT rolled out of me. Though I have attempted to turn my energy to climbing once again, my fire for running continues to burn and so I’ve spent six days a week hammering dust with joyful feet.

Most remarkably, my period has maintained its thirty day cycles. I strategically programmed this run to happen on the summer solstice in the first days of my luteal phase, knowing that I’d have ample light, lots of energy, and given that I’d have already ovulated it was unlikely that the big effort would disrupt my cycle.

Finally, last year I ran about five pounds lighter and my autonomic nervous system was a good deal more sensitive. In advance of my 2017 run, I found it difficult to fall or stay asleep and I functioned in a slight sleep deficit for most of the summer. Through winter 2017/2018 I packed on about ten pounds, downed an indica edible every night, and built more consistent bedtime habits. As a result, this year I slept well all but the night before the event (because I was just so damned excited to run). In the taper leading up to the event, I clocked about eleven and a half hours of sleep a night plus naps three days a week.

 

read more:

Perfecting the Taper

Psychedelia

Heat training

my private trail network, Location Undisclosed

my private trail network, Location Undisclosed

Hey forest freaks,

As the temps climb up near the 90s here - holy cow! - I've been feeling the heat in my afternoon runs. Thought it would be useful to re-post my article from last autumn reporting out on heat conditioning! There are a lot of myths out there about women being unable to acclimate appropriately to heat - and that is simply not true. 

Lotsa links to scholarly articles in here so go down that rabbit hole.

Brittany Raven


On April 20th, 2017 I took my first shirtless run of the season. On May 2nd, 2017 I told my IG followers that I was going to undertake purposeful heat training for the summer. On September 18th I next wore a shirt on a training run. 

This was a hot summer. I clocked over thirty runs at temperatures exceeding 95F - ten in a row over 100F. Adding to the heat was the impenetrable smoke which forced me to wear a ventilator on runs through all of August and part of September. The ventilator, much as it did an excellent job of filtering the smoke, also acted as a hypoxia-inducing mechanism by limiting the in-flow of oxygen as I went.

I'll back up and also confess: I have historically loathed the heat often telling friends and clients I'd rather be hypothermic than even a little warm. However, after choosing the Methow Valley as home, I had to befriend the heat if I intended to keep running - and I intend to keep running. 

So back in May I suspended my loathing of the heat long enough to devise a loose program of heat acclimation intended to increase my tolerance. As I researched how to acclimate to heat, I found a litany of other benefits of heat training: increased tolerance of cold, increased VO2Max in hot and cold conditions, and training adaptations similar to those I have experienced at altitude. The mechanism for all these useful changes? Increased plasma volume (a la pregnant blood doping!). 

smoky run, Cutthroat Pass

smoky run, Cutthroat Pass

For the month of May, I purposefully waited until the hottest part of the day (which was around mid-eighties) to do my runs two days a week. On those days, I took it easy but made myself keep running in what felt like sweltering heat for at least ninety minutes. On those runs I was sure not only to refuel but to rehydrate and to pay attention to my micronutrient intake as well. As May's temps ratcheted up in June, I felt more comfortable running in the heat already. During the month of June I tacked on to the end of every hot run an ice bath in whatever creek or river was nearby. I also began to do a hot epsom bath after one run-ice bath combo per week.

Beginning in the end of June and early July, my body started performing really well in the heat. I still took my hardest and longest runs at higher elevations and at cooler times of the day but by that point in the summer I was running four or five days a week in temperatures exceeding 90F. After every run beginning in mid-July I did a full-body ice bath in the Chewuch River or Deer Lake.

At the end of July the Diamond Creek Fire flared up a few miles from home dumping an obscene amount of smoke into my little river valley so I began to wear a ventilator (read more on running in wildfire country). Not one to complain about challenging conditions I chose to view my ventilator as yet another cardiac challenge to my strengthening system. Through all of August I ran at least four of my runs per week in the ventilator in temperatures over 95F - and damn did some of those runs feel tough.

As the heat persisted through the first weeks of September I began to feel markedly more at ease in the triple-digits. I found myself looking forward to runs on hot days and even found myself not feeling overheated on my last hot hot run on September 14th.

Now, as the cold rolls in and the ground I now run on is covered with snow, I feel more well-adapted to running in freezing, damp temperatures, too. My body feels like it is using much less energy than in past seasons keeping me warm despite being vastly leaner this autumn versus years past. And dammit if I'm not pining for those sultry runs in the smoke with Moose.

So after four months of shirt-free, sweat-heavy, hot AF runs I'm pleased to announce: I loved it! Truly. After a lifetime of not performing well in the heat I now miss my hot 4pm runs on sun-exposed dusty trail. I'm also performing better in the cold this autumn AND feel my overall cardiac capacity increased. Now let's see how that heat training translates to high altitude movement - I'll keep you posted.

 

read more:

how to run in wildfire country

heat training while pregnant

Reporting out on my summer of heat training

my private trail network, Location Undisclosed

my private trail network, Location Undisclosed

On April 20th I took my first shirtless run of the season. On May 2nd I told my IG followers that I was going to undertake purposeful heat training for the summer. On September 18th I next wore a shirt on a training run. 

This was a hot summer. I clocked over thirty runs at temperatures exceeding 95F - ten in a row over 100F. Adding to the heat was the impenetrable smoke which forced me to wear a ventilator on runs through all of August and part of September. The ventilator, much as it did an excellent job of filtering the smoke, also acted as a hypoxia-inducing mechanism by limiting the in-flow of oxygen as I went.

I'll back up and also confess: I have historically loathed the heat often telling friends and clients I'd rather be hypothermic than even a little warm. However, after choosing the Methow Valley as home, I had to befriend the heat if I intended to keep running - and I intend to keep running. 

So back in May I suspended my loathing of the heat long enough to devise a loose program of heat acclimation intended to increase my tolerance. As I researched how to acclimate to heat, I found a litany of other benefits of heat training: increased tolerance of cold, increased VO2Max in hot and cold conditions, and training adaptations similar to those I have experienced at altitude. The mechanism for all these useful changes? Increased plasma volume (a la pregnant blood doping!). 

smoky run, Cutthroat Pass

smoky run, Cutthroat Pass

For the month of May, I purposefully waited until the hottest part of the day (which was around mid-eighties) to do my runs two days a week. On those days, I took it easy but made myself keep running in what felt like sweltering heat for at least ninety minutes. On those runs I was sure not only to refuel but to rehydrate and to pay attention to my micronutrient intake as well. As May's temps ratcheted up in June, I felt more comfortable running in the heat already. During the month of June I tacked on to the end of every hot run an ice bath in whatever creek or river was nearby. I also began to do a hot epsom bath after one run-ice bath combo per week.

Beginning in the end of June and early July, my body started performing really well in the heat. I still took my hardest and longest runs at higher elevations and at cooler times of the day but by that point in the summer I was running four or five days a week in temperatures exceeding 90F. After every run beginning in mid-July I did a full-body ice bath in the Chewuch River or Deer Lake.

At the end of July the Diamond Creek Fire flared up a few miles from home dumping an obscene amount of smoke into my little river valley so I began to wear a ventilator (read more on running in wildfire country). Not one to complain about challenging conditions I chose to view my ventilator as yet another cardiac challenge to my strengthening system. Through all of August I ran at least four of my runs per week in the ventilator in temperatures over 95F - and damn did some of those runs feel tough.

As the heat persisted through the first weeks of September I began to feel markedly more at ease in the triple-digits. I found myself looking forward to runs on hot days and even found myself not feeling overheated on my last hot hot run on September 14th.

Now, as the cold rolls in and the ground I now run on is covered with snow, I feel more well-adapted to running in freezing, damp temperatures, too. My body feels like it is using much less energy than in past seasons keeping me warm despite being vastly leaner this autumn versus years past. And dammit if I'm not pining for those sultry runs in the smoke with Moose.

So after four months of shirt-free, sweat-heavy, hot AF runs I'm pleased to announce: I loved it! Truly. After a lifetime of not performing well in the heat I now miss my hot 4pm runs on sun-exposed dusty trail. I'm also performing better in the cold this autumn AND feel my overall cardiac capacity increased. Now let's see how that heat training translates to high altitude movement - I'll keep you posted.

 

read more:

how to run in wildfire country

heat training while pregnant

How to run in wildfire country

up against the Diamond Creek Fire, Pasayten Wilderness 2017

As the Diamond Creek Fire nears my home in the Methow Valley, I continue my daily running practice. My home, as wild and wily and wonderful as it is, also has extreme seasons. Spanning the negative-teens and three feet of snow on the ground in winter to the sauna-like smoky days of mid-August there is always some complication to getting out the door to run - except in our paradisiac Aprils and Octobers which read like a mineralic rosé or a dense merlot on my tongue according to season.

Just like the e-book I compiled last winter containing my lessons for running in snow, I wanted to provide readers and clients with some fire country know-how to help you keep moving in the hottest summer months. More than sharing my hard-won knowledge about dancing with the changing seasons with you readers, these pieces serve as mantras for me when the extreme conditions get me down and make me consider not running. Here are a few helpful morsels I've gathered this season while I learn to move with the fire.

 

Safety: Being that wildfire can shift quickly, leaving the runner stranded, there are a number of health- and safety-related precautions to take when running the hills during an active wildfire. First: leave a plan with a responsible safety person who is able to call in the necessary support. In that plan include where you're parking, what trail or mountain you're running, with whom, and a time that you will contact them. Be sure to leave the contact information of your local Search and Rescue team with your safety person so they know who to call if you don't get in touch in time. While you're running use good common sense. Sniff the air periodically to judge the behavior of the fire nearby, watch for smoke or unusual animal activity. Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to exit quickly should warning signs present themselves.

Checking conditions: Don't rely on mere gossip or the news to inform you of fire activity - go to the source. Check out the InciWeb page for the fires near you before heading out on your run. Take special caution on windy days. Even though that blessed wind might blow the smoke away and tempt you out to run, it is akin to being called out to ski on the deepest powder days. Just like fresh pow is tempting and potentially lethal, so too are clear skies after a couple smoky days. The wind that clears the skies is the same wind that stokes the wildfire.

Your vehicle: If you're driving to your running destination be sure to have an alternate exit if one is cut off by smoke or flame. Park your car in a conspicuous location to alert FS employees who might serve an evacuation notice while you're on the trail and to make rescue more feasible should you become trapped. If you're running in a particularly remote location leave a note detailing your route and timing on your front seat in case a team drives by to evacuate the area. Fuel up, keep on top of maintenance, and park in a visible location. Nuff said.

The heat: Fire season happens during the hottest part of the year - and here in the Methow Valley that means 100F+ conditions on ten runs in a row this summer. The heat is an excellent training stimulus - if properly-programmed in your training. Start with little bouts of exposure to the heat on your mellow run days before jumping whole-hog into long, hilly, hot runs. I find visualizing my body dissipating into the heat rather than resisting the heat allows me to become more comfortable in intense temperatures. Instead of flushing your body to hyponatremia by drinking only clear water, try this homemade hydration drink. Fill a sixteen ounce hand bottle with ice, add the juice of one lime, spritz in some micronutrient drops, and top it off with water. That bottle will add a good deal of cool to your baking-hot run. 

Ventilator: I am more prone to finding solutions than to allowing adverse running conditions keep me indoors so when the smoke near home persisted this month, I ordered this ventilator. Expect a ventilator that is effective in protecting against smoke inhalation to obscure your breathing - it felt like running at about 9000' elevation to me. Be aware of hypoxia due to the restriction of breathing and moderate your pace and the steepness of the terrain you choose to run accordingly. Also, allow the sweat to build up around the ventilator and don't wipe it away. That sweat creates an excellent seal of the mask to your face. Be sure to move the mask aside every fifteen minutes for a bite and a sip. Enjoy the sore-throat-free run in the smoke!

The ANS: Hypoxia leads to the activation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and that is a bad thing for an ultra endurance machine like you. With an activated nervous system during persistent endurance training you risk poor proliferation of oxygen, inappropriate metabolism of your precious calories, poor decision-making, lack of connection with the divine, and even adrenal fatigue. If you are unsure how to regulate your nervous system, sign up for a consult with me and I'll teach you the way.

When to bail: If ash falls from the sky, if the smoke is thick enough to make my eyes water, and if there is lightning in the forecast I'll bail or choose a different activity for the day.

 

read more:

heat training