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  • Dr Russ Reinbolt

Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra Training Update Five Weeks Out

So, I am five weeks out from the big race. I’m doing the 300 mile event of the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra which will begin on February 3. So far things are going really well except for one problem: my right heel has been bothering me quite a bit. I have self diagnosed Calcaneal apophys

itis. It’s inflammation/overuse injury of where the Achilles tendon originates on the calcaneus/heel bone. When I squeeze both the inside and outside of the lowest portion of my heel, it feels like there’s a knife poking into my ankle. The whole area is swollen and spongy to the touch

I’ve been able to train through the pain. However, I’m taking things very carefully. I don’t want to jeopardize my participation in this upcoming event. I think I know the cause of the problem. I’ve been doing lots and lots of miles with my weighted vest. It has allowed me to gain incredible cardiovascular fitness. My back and core are very strong as well. None of my muscles get sore or achy from wearing the vest anymore as they did in the past. However, it has come at a cost now.—Injury. So, I decided to throttle back and to allow my heel to heal. I’m also using heel inserts in my right shoe to elevate my foot a little bit. This reduces the stress on the Achilles/calcaneus. I’ve also been stretching my gastrocnemius and soleus muscles as much as I can. And, I’m icing the area a couple times a day.

I’m pretty sure everything will be okay for the race. I find it kind of funny that my “Achilles heel “is turning out to actually be my Achilles heel! How amazingly ironic. Of all the injuries that could shut me down it turns out to be this.

The Montane YAU 300 requires tremendous physical and mental toughness. Of course there are huge logistical demands as well. With temperatures likely to be colder than 40° below zero,I’ll need the best gear to keep me from succumbing to frostbite and/or hypothermia. I have researched and purchased the best gear possible. I’m also renting some essential items from Robert, the race director. One of these is a sleeping bag that is rated to 60° below zero! So I don’t have to lug the stuff to the airport and through customs (I’m going to Canada for this race) I’m renting several other items as well. This includes the pulk (the sled) with which I’ll haul all my gear behind me for the race. Additionally, I’m renting a camping stove and my sleeping pad. In between checkpoints, I’ll have to melt snow for water and also have to prepare meals of dehydrated food.

I’m hoping not to have to sleep in between checkpoints, some of which are 45 miles apart. But if necessary, I’ll be prepared. My two most important items are the down parka that will save me if I get really, really cold. I bought the Montane Deep Heat Down Parka. It looks to be one of the best available.

Also, I bought the highest rated down mittens available: Rab Expedition 8000. I also have wool liner gloves, handsewn, super warm mittens from Sweden, a pair of Thinsulate gloves, and some super warm black diamond mittens. I want to have lots of options.

The rest of my kit includes the following: several wool and polypropylene base layers, several additional thermal mid layers, wind pants, several multi-weight tops, Julbo ski googles, my Patagonia Nano Puff jacket, Columbia Fairbanks insulated boots (rated to -25°), a pair of Hoka Tor waterproof boots, tons of bacon, Parmesan cheese (doesn’t freeze) and high-fat bars, numerous wool socks options, a footcare kit, pictures of my girls, waterproof matches, a saw, a multi tool pocketknife, numerous wool hats and balaclavas, Black Diamond headlamps and lithium batteries and a Black Yak Bakosi Jacket. The latter has storage pockets both on the outside and the inside. This will allow me to keep food, my IPod and batteries and anything else important, up close to my body and therefore unfrozen.

Last week I ran LA to San Diego for the 10th time. It went fantastic except for my right heel hurting. Fitness-wise, I’m SET!

From a strength standpoint, I’m right where I want to be also. I’ve been doing my really hard backyard weightlifting and high intensity heavy ropes workout twice a week. Last week I almost puked in my bushes because I pushed myself so hard!

Though I look like a dork doing it at the beach, I’ve been dragging my sled through the soft sand with a 40 pound dumbbell in it to prepare for doing so in the snow up north. When I finish those workouts, my legs are on fire because it’s so difficult.

Though I’ll be going to the frozen Arctic, I’ve even been doing 120 degree sauna training because of the additional health benefits I get from heat shock proteins.

Finally, and most importantly, I’m working with my mental skills coach, Brian Alexander. He’s producing a strategy to help me deal with the physical and the mental adversity I’ll deal with in this my longest race to date. I started my ultra career with a 50 miler then moved up to 100K/62 miles, then 100 hundred miles, then Badwater 135, then Tahoe 200 then Moab 240. MYAU is actually 305 so I’m making a jump this time of roughly 60 miles. I certainly understand the reality of how tough this race will be for me knowing my mental makeup. I’m not a patient person but I am very, very disciplined. I hope the latter makes up for the former.

Five weeks out from the race, my confidence level is very high. We’ll see how things are as I get closer.

Thanks for reading!

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