I signed up for my first 50K trail race (Chattanooga’s Stump Jump) and after a few sporadic training runs, it’s become painfully obvious that I have a lot of work to do between now and race day. Originally, I had planned to take a very zen-like approach to training: run only when I felt like it, then shoot myself full of caffeine and cortisone the morning of the race and hope for the best.
After struggling through a couple of five-mile “jogs” (let’s be honest, I wasn’t going fast enough to call it “running”), I think I’m going to have to take a more proactive training approach if I have any hopes of finishing the Stumper. Of course, since I’m a writer who loathes hard work, I’m looking for the path of least resistance. Basically, I want to train as little as possible while still finishing the race as fast as I can.
Since the Stump Jump is a trail race, taking a taxi to the finish line is out of the question. My fear of needles means doping isn’t an option, and from what I understand, you have to have some natural ability for doping to give you an edge. The drugs would simply be wasted on me. That leaves only high altitude training. And since I can’t afford a $25,000 altitude sleep chamber, my only option is to move my base of operations to 6,000 feet. From this day on, if anyone needs me, I’ll be living inside a spacious three-person tent on Mount Mitchell’s lookout tower, a lofty 6,684 feet above sea level. It’s the perfect solution to my predicament: sucking in Mitchell’s low-oxygen air by night, I should only need to do some light calisthenics during the day. This may sound extreme, but really, it’s simple problem solving: If you can’t afford a high altitude tent, take your Kelty to a high altitude. Stump Jump podium finish, here I come!
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Averill’s wife didn’t share his training “vision” and refused to give him clearance to camp on top of Mount Mitchell for the next three months.