The sun sets over Big Bear Lake

High Altitude Training: A Personal Journey

Posted: 07/23/14 | By Rhrabia

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 and someday an athlete with some fun high altitude training in Big Bear.

High Altitude Training in Big Bear

I grew up in the era of pre-Internet and pre-handheld electronic 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 and 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 me and what I like 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.

About a year ago, I started working out in the gym. I started with some of the classes like Zumba, Piloxing and Boot Camp. Since the weather in Big Bear is absolutely gorgeous during the summer months, I'll ride the Sky Chair at Snow Summit to the top of the mountain and then hike down. Or talk a walk on the Alpine Pedal Path or rent a kayak at Captain John's Marina. If you are visiting Big Bear, we have many gyms that charge per day usage fees as well. Exercising, what a life changer! 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 what 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. I do track everything I eat with the app My Fitness Pal. 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. I was not ready to commit to myself. Since I started working out, I have lost another 40 lbs. I am now officially a healthy weight and feeling great! This is just how I was able to get healthy again. (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 and continue my high altitude training. I know right now I could do several of the competitions, but I want to win or at least place. I guess that is the competitive nature in me. I thought about the Memorial 5K Fun Run. Only 5K! We all can at least walk that one. Then I thought about the Big Bear Paddlefest. At the Paddlefest there are three different courses, 5K, 10K and 20K. It is really cool that basically you don't have to be an extreme athlete to participate in an athletic competition in Big Bear (unless you want to). New to Big Bear this year is the Big Bear Mountain Bike Gran Fondo. This event has three courses 30K, 50K and 100K through trails and forest roads. Maybe the Tour de Big Bear cycling race on August 2nd, would be a great event for me to participate. They also have several levels of courses to choose from; 25, 50, 70 and 100 miles! In September, Endure the Bear Trail Run also has many courses for the whole family; 5K, 15K, 30K and 50K. 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 must 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. With the beautiful landscape of the lake, the pine trees and just maybe you will get to see an animal or two. 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 because pasta produces extra CO2 which helps your breathing. Good luck on your journey and remember to give yourself the time you need.

Live It. Up.