the pikes peak marathon
Here's the Pikes Peak Marathon route! What a course!
The Pikes Peak Marathon is one of our favorite destination races!
Each time we've had the great fortune to visit Colorado, it has been amazing.
And, the trip during which we ran Pikes Peak was so incredibly memorable.
Share your mountain and marathon running stories here.
We can't wait to return, both to Colorado, and to the America's Mountain, for the views, and to run the race again!
How We Got To The Pikes Peak Marathon
Back in 2016, we were on a roll when it came to our travels, running, and the combination of the two.
Our first "win," if you want to call it that, was in being prepared to register for running Pikes Peak on the day that enrollment became available online.
The race is so popular that it isn't unusual for many, if not all, of the race entries to sell out near the opening of online enrollment.
And, that's with considering the qualifying standards that must be met in order to be approved as a participant in the race.
What are the Qualifying Standards?
In researching the minimum requirements for eligibility to run Pikes Peak, we referenced the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon website to ensure that we had the appropriate detail.
There, we found the following:
- Specific to the Pikes Peak Ascent (the half-marathon from start line to summit): a half-marathon or longer race completed in under 2:25:00.
- Specific to the Marathon: a marathon or longer race completed in under 6:00:00.
Oops, Better Find a Qualifying Race Quickly!
On course at the Providence Marathon (our first official marathon!).
Having participated in multi-day ultramarathons prior to registration, but not having had any traditional marathon races, we knew we would need to register for another race, prior to online enrollment day.
To accomplish this, we searched for semi-local races, and found the Providence Marathon to be a good fit, and a relatively flat race, which would allow for successful qualification.
We had a great time running the Providence Marathon, and earned our qualifying standard, allowing for registration to Pikes Peak.
How To Train For Mountain Running
There are a lot of ways to train for mountain running, much more than can be covered in just one article or page.
Being based in Boston, though with months to fully prepare, we were going to have to get creative.
And, we did. Though, most importantly, we were consistent in our training.
Here are a Few of the Keys to Our Preparation:
- The treadmill and the stepmill - Knowing that we wouldn't be accessing any high peaks prior to race day, and that we wouldn't be at any elevations outside of what we had in New England (and, even with those, not very often), it was important to us to utilize the treadmill and stepmill in order to "get our legs underneath us." Our treadmill training included, but wasn't limited to, incline running workouts at or above a 20% grade, as well as hear rate specific zone work and recovery. And, the stepmill training allowed our legs to experience a different range of motion than what was required by the treadmill. It also gave us a different stress to both our leg musculature, as well as to our cardiovascular system.
- Our running watch - To personalize running workouts for ourselves and for our clients, one method we use is in prescribing intensities of work and recovery based on individual heart rate response. With that, we'd used the Karvonen formula to determine our zones, and relied upon our Garmin running watch (take a look at our reviews of the Garmin Forerunner 235 and Garmin Forerunner 735) to give us the data we'd need.
- Strength training - Being one-dimensional in athleticism isn't very helpful for success in any sport. With that, we knew that spending time the gym was of essence. In truth, the gym, particularly the weight training area, is really our second home. We've mentioned before that single joint exercises (bicep curls, tricep pressdowns, leg curls, and leg extensions) are often some of the most inefficient and ineffective exercises that can be included in a running program. That isn't to say that upper body exercises aren't important; they are! However, if you're going to dedicate time to being a well-rounded, and well-prepared athlete, you'll most often be doing yourself a favor by eliminating exercises that are time and results-wasting. Instead, focus on compound movements with a focus on developing strength, the area on the resistance-training spectrum of focuses in which most runners are lacking.
- Flexibility - Whether it is part of your warm-up, part of your cool down, or if you enjoy dedicating full workouts to yoga practice, attention to flexibility and mobility is a key element in helping to avoid injury, returning from injury quickly and safely when one does occur, and in addressing muscular imbalances. Where some runners avoid stretching whenever possible, we've always enjoyed this part of the overall process, and believe it to be one of the reasons that we are so infrequently injured.
- Crosstraining - We didn't only run (horrifying, we know! Haha.). We enjoy lots of other activities, and incorporated these into our training for the Pikes Peak Marathon, and all of our other events, as well. Being bikers, rowers, and overall adventurers helped to ensure that we weren't overtraining any one activity, or any one range of motion. It gave certain muscles and joints breaks for the impact of running, and allowed for mental rest from one activity, and mental excitement and rejuvenation from another. One of our favorite activities, especially considering that we didn't have the advantage of altitude training, was in the time we spent rucking the roads and trails around town.
Know that Rest and Recovery are key to being able to enjoy activities in the long term!
- Recovery - We like to break a sweat everyday, but that doesn't mean that we are setting personal bests in every single workout or activity as we train for our events. If we did, neither our competitive nor our recreational racing "careers" would last very long. Run streaks, or any sort of exercise streak, can be motivating, but those won't last long either, if you neglect the body's need for rest and recovery. We never overdid it, and had both planned and unplanned days off. Fitness really isn't for one day; it is geared for a life time of enjoyment. Rest and recovery will help get you there.
- Consistency - This ties in well with our last point. A day off here and there, especially where it relates to rest and recovery is important in ensuring overall success. Too many unplanned days off in a row, however, can create a trend, from which it becomes difficult to recover, or to realize progress in performance. Show up more often than not, according to a well-designed plan, and race day will be more fun than it is challenging (though, a little bit of both can be fulfilling, too!).
Have You Run the Pikes Peak Marathon?
Have you run the Pikes Peak Marathon or Ascent? We'd love to hear how you trained, what you loved about preparation and race day. What shoes did you wear? How did you respond to being at altitude, etc.? Write your own marathon running story about Pikes Peak (or any of your other races). We can't wait to read your submission!
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"Hard work is not punishment. Hard work is the price of admission for the opportunity to reach sustained excellence."
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