TransRockies Running with Max King

Training for the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run

It’s that time of year that we start to crawl out of our snow caves we’ve been hibernating in for the winter, start to put race dates on the calendar, and start to think about training for them. Well, since you’ve all decided to put the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run on the calendar and it’s not your typical 5k road race you’ll probably want some tips on training for the race so that come August you’ll be having fun trudging up and down the Rockies and not wishing you had prepared with a bit more intent. I’ve introduced you to the TransRockies run and talked about what’s important in choosing a teammate, now we’re going to talk training.

Training for TransRockies doesn’t have to be a lot different from your normal training so don’t worry yourself about getting more miles in. It’s simple really; plan on running 120mi/week from now until August, make sure you get in 40,000ft of elevation gain, and purchase an altitude tent (trust me, your spouse will love it).

That should do it. See, simple.

Ha, just messin’ with ya. Sign up for the race and you get to hang out all week with my sense of humor. It’s gonna be a blast.

For real though, it doesn’t have to be significantly above and beyond what you are currently doing and shouldn’t be, as the risk of injury increases dramatically if you stress your body more than it can handle. There are three ways training can stress your body; increase quantity (mileage), increase quality (speed, hills), and decrease rest. It’s recommended that athletes increase one factor at a time, at most two, but changing all three will most likely leave you injured. Follow this rule and it will help put you on the start line.

If you’ve signed up for doing 120 miles in a week in the Rockies you’re most likely someone that puts in a fair amount of mileage already. That mileage will build on itself but more important for TransRockies is protecting your legs from the brutal ups and downs you’ll encounter, and the best protection against soreness and injury is practice. Simulate the TransRockies course in practice so that when you start the race you’re prepared for it. What does simulate mean? All that means is understand what is going to be thrown at you and try your best using the means you have available to replicate it. Now if you’re from Kansas this may be tough but using some ingenuity and creativity you can do it. I have faith.

First, the distance. For most of you 120 miles is going to be more than your running in a week. My recommendation for anyone increasing mileage is no more than a 10-20% increase in your current maximum weekly mileage in a 3-month training period. This may not seem like much, but consistency is the key and week after week of increased mileage will build strength. It’s important to give your body time to adapt.
Second, after your body has adapted to the initial increase in mileage, stay consistent in mileage and begin adding in hills both up and down. This is where you’ll need to get creative if you live somewhere that doesn’t have hills. Your body can handle more uphill than downhill due to the impact of going down but don’t overdue it. It’s still a different movement than your body may be used to. To simulate uphill crank up a treadmill to 10-15%, find a freeway overpass and do repeats up and down that, or rig up a weight or old tire to drag around a field for awhile. I know, that last one is a stretch but trust me, it really works for hills. For downhill, the overpass works well, running pavement can have some fatigue resistant benefit, but not much will simulate running downhill like running downhill unfortunately.

Third, time. Time is another factor that you have to take into account because you’re not only running 20+ miles some days during the TransRockies but you’re doing it at an altitude of 10,000ft and over several mountain passes. These are looooong runs. And if not prepared can make it feel a lot longer. So during your training stick to your weekly mileage increases but also start to condense it into a few long days rather than spread it out evenly over the week. For example, if you have a 50 mile week, don’t do 7 miles a day, instead do 10, 3, 7, 3, 10, 17. That gives you that long day that will help build stamina and better prepare you for those long days in the mountains and it gives you a couple recovery days in between.

Ok, now you’ll all be ready for what the Rockies have to throw at you. Remember: it’s not just the mileage of the week that you’ll have to prepare for. There are a few other important variables (hills and time) that you’ll need to be prepared for in order to finish and enjoy your week in the Rockies. Hopefully this will help you lay out a training plan for the coming season. If you still have questions or would like help with a training plan a good running coach is a great resource that has the experience and can help you make the most of your training. If you’d like you can email me at with questions and if you’d like a full training plan check out

The TR3 is almost full and the TRR is closing on full as well, so if you’re still on the fence you better jump off quick. Trust me, this will be one of the best weeks of your like. I’m already getting excited and can’t wait for the high altitude oxygen deprivation and burning legs of TransRockies.

POP QUIZ: Take for instance two runners: Runner A is running 100 miles per week on flat ground and runner B is putting in 50 miles per week but that includes 7,000ft of elevation gain per week as well. Question: Which one is going to be smiling on day 6, runner A or runner B?

Hopefully, if you’ve understood my point from the previous few paragraphs, you have wisely chosen runner B.

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