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High Altitude Training: A Personal Journey

Posted: 07/23/14 | By Rebecca

My end goal is to become an athlete and accomplish an athletic competition. Big Bear is the perfect location for high altitude training to reach my goal.

As I get older, I realize that my time to accomplish my “To-Do” list keeps on getting shorter and shorter. I have been thinking for some time now of becoming a "real" athlete. The word "real" of course has different meanings to different people. For me, it means accomplishing a marathon, a mud run or some other kind of athletic competition. Luckily, I live in Big Bear where year-round there are many athletic competitions.

Lately, I have been looking at the competitions that Open Air Big Bear promotes. They offer not only the extreme events, but they have many that seem doable for my skill level. First, let me give you a little history of my journey in becoming a healthier me with some fun, high altitude training in Big Bear.

High Altitude Training in Big Bear

I grew up in the pre-Internet and pre-handheld electronics days which meant I was usually outside climbing trees or riding my bike. When I wasn't outside, I would go to my dance classes. Basically, I was moving all the time. Then as time continued on I grew up, got a job, a husband, a home, had a family, responsibilities and about 90+ lbs. Somewhere in between childhood and now I had lost myself and what I liked to do. About five years ago I decided I needed to take some time and give it back to me. I was exhausted of doing everything for everyone and nothing for myself. I joined Weight Watchers and lost about 50 lbs with just eating right. I maintained that weight for the next few years, but I still wanted to lose more.

Exercising, what a life changer! About a year ago, I started working out in the gym. If you are visiting Big Bear, there are many gyms that charge per day. But since the weather in Big Bear is absolutely gorgeous during the spring, summer, and fall months, I'll ride the Sky Chair at Snow Summit to the top of the mountain and hike down, or I'll take a walk the Alpine Pedal Path, or even rent a kayak from one of Big Bear Lake's six marinas.

For one hour a day I actually get to escape reality and just focus on me. For that hour, I don't think about work or billings or any other responsibilities. I focus on me getting stronger and leaner. I am in control of what I want to become, an athlete. I still don't consider myself an athlete just yet, but soon!

I am not saying it is easy nor am I at my full potential, but I am saying it can be done. Eat smaller meals more often that are healthy choices, move your body, drink more water than you think you can and try to get some sleep. You have to do them all if you want results. If I can do it, anyone can! You can sit there and make excuses or you can make it happen. I made all those same excuses as you do and some were so ridiculous, I can't even mention them. Since I started working out, I have lost another 40 lbs. I am now officially a healthy weight and feeling great! (Always consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.)

So, even though I am feeling great, I still want to be stronger before any of participating in any of the Open Air Big Bear events. I've thought about the 5K Fun Runs offered throughout the year. Only 5K! Anyone can at least walk that one. There's also the Mountain Bike Gran Fondo and Grizzly 100. This event has three courses 30K, 50K and 100K through the forest trails and roads. The Tour de Big Bear road ride in August is always popular, would be a great event for me to try. They have several levels of courses to choose from: 25, 50, 70, 106, and 109 miles! If you are an extreme athlete and need a challenge I would suggest the Kodiak 100. This trail run is through the San Bernardino Mountains and you have a choice of either 50 mile or 100 mile course. The entire run is at an elevation of anywhere between 5,100 to 10,000 feet. It is required that you have completed at least one 50 mile run within the past year before participating in this event. I think I may have to wait on the Kodiak for now.

Big Bear, in my opinion, is one of the best places to accomplish one or all of these events with some high altitude training beforehand. When you do decide on an athletic event in Big Bear, you must remember a few things if you are coming from a lower elevation. Try to take it easy on the first day. Talk a walk or a nap to help your body adjust to the elevation before a full workout. Also, remember to drink lots of water before you even begin to travel to a higher altitude. Your body will dehydrate faster at higher elevations. Eat some pasta as it produces extra CO2 which helps your breathing. Good luck on your journey and remember to give yourself the time you need.

Live It. Up.