By Henny Gorton
Everesting is a fairly new challenge that hit the world by storm as a cycling event, but recently runners have got wind of it and are attempting it in full force.
What exactly is Everesting I hear you ask?
The concept is simple, find a hill and ascend and descend it in one activity until you climb 8,848m (Elevation of Mount Everest). You can pick wherever you want to do it, be it a trail or road or short hill repeats or long ones, but it must be the same hill or staircase. You cannot go up or down a different way. There is an Everest hall of fame with slightly more regimented rules you should check out, the link is later in the article. Ultimately their main requirements are what are stated above + it must be a Strava segment.
Due to its grueling nature, we have decided to create a dos and don’ts for Everesting to prepare you all for the almighty challenge ahead, this will benefit you whether you are doing the Mini, Half or Full. Anything that requires you to do hill repeats for a certain amount of time is difficult and needs some prep. We asked people who have already Everested before to share their tips and advice.
DO’s & DON’TS
We all know that training is going to be key to your success, many view it as ‘only hiking’ and underestimate how difficult it will be physically and mentally. Therefore, don’t go in underprepared, make sure you train on the course and do a good chunk of elevation training and time on your feet says Arnaud Picut who gave up on the halfway mark after only training 2 repeats of the hill prior to the event. He said he was fit but not for this type of event. So, don’t rock up not trained for elevation unless you are Nikki Han and have a batch of experience and hills in the legs.
Practice downhill running, this is another overlooked technique. For many running the downhill will be essential to making those laps quicker but all those downhills could easily get you injured. We all know there is a certain technique to going downhill, so it is essential to train those muscles for it. Also take the downhills easy to save your legs and quads. Just think you also have to do your elevation down too, so if you are doing Everest, that’s 8848m down.
Make sure you do a variety of training still, don’t just hike, although very important for strength it can make you slower so keep up some speed work. Flat speed work actually helps with hill training as it helps you maintain your form and climb faster.
A favorite session of ours; 3 minutes full effort with 3 minutes recovery x3 and you can build up over the weeks until 6 or 8 times. This leads nicely into progression, it’s good to always make your training progressive so with hill repeats, start doing a few and build them up over the weeks.
Most are recommending you should have done 2 or 3 sessions of 2000-3000m+ prior to the event for a full Everest.
Another juicy session; hill reps: keep it short (no more than 60sec) and not too steep (otherwise you don't have speed). 4-6 reps are enough to not exhaust yourself.
Strength and conditioning 2/3 times a week to get your body up to scratch and prevent those injuries. Core should be an essential component to your training whether it’s just 2x 10 minutes a week – it will help!
Finally, do repetitive runs eg. a 1km segment on repeat to complete a run, whether it’s flat or hills it will just get you in the right mindset of the event and feeling this notion of constant repeats…
'We need to become a comfortable hamster in the wheel’ (Carole Fuchs)
Train for hills, simple and a must! Many recommended running at night, or most doing the full won’t have an option, but it does mean less traffic and cooler temperatures. But, practice your hill in the night so you can test out your headlamp and what it will be like (technicality wise) at night. Worth having a research of what the moon will be doing on the day you pick it or if you haven’t picked the day yet, try and get it on a full moon to help aid you with light.
Poles or no poles, that is the question!
Use them but try using a varied approach sometimes using them and sometimes not, here’s why; using poles actually generates a lot more heat and consumes more energy so if you are in the heat of day maybe try not using them for a loop to cool down. It is absolutely essential to train with them and research tips and advice on this as there definitely is a method to it and if not used correctly they can be more of a hassle than help.
THE HILL ITSELF
Many recommend the steeper and shorter the segment the better, so more elevation than kilometers. Many of our athletes made that mistake and picked long grueling hills where they only did 15-20 repeats, but it took twice as long. Think efficiently!
Input the segment on Strava first, to work out the exact data and make sure the segment is up and down as one segment, so you aren’t missing out on any potential sneaky ascents on the way down. Which even if it’s just a meter or two could add up over a long time and mean you can do one less lap. Make sure for a real Everesting attempt you have created your segment previously, read the rules here: https://everesting.teachable.com/
Know how many laps you need to do first and put it on the Everest site LAP CALCULATOR to check for clarification. Also, don’t rely on your watch for accurate data, have a board or score sheet to count off the laps. Nikki Han had a piece of cardboard which she wrote 20 on and crossed off a loop each time, this really helped mentally, to slowly know you were getting somewhere.
Another major component and could be the end of your event if not done correctly. Plan your nutrition and hydration before, have a tested nutrition plan and know what your body processes well, but be up for making adjustments throughout.
‘In between all the sugary gels and drinks, salted boiled potatoes felt like a much-deserved meal that really helped to revitalize energy levels as the evening wore on’. (Arnaud Picut)
Experiment and find what works for you, but also be prepared with a variety of food for your changing of taste buds and cravings. But test all the food first on your runs! For a long effort like Everesting you will need real food, test this real food on your runs now as you won’t know how your body reacts to it!
Make efficient turnarounds at the bottom to minimize the time wasted refilling and refueling and just keep moving as much as you can.
Community… We all love running with others and what makes these events so great is the atmosphere and people, so try to create a group challenge or get others involved.
‘The small words of encouragement each time you pass one another really does wonders to keep the spirits up, especially as the night wears on and the monotony seems endless.’ (Jennifer Chen)
It would be good to make a little base camp for yourself, you can have a great support point where you can sit down, refuel and take a rest after each rep. But most importantly, get friends to come by and do some reps with you or just to cheer you on at your support point, this will really help get you through.
This is a mainly a mental game, your head has to be fully in it to succeed! Find a strong why for this event as it will help when the hardest parts hit! Suggestions from Carole Fuchs are to break it up mentally into segments, for example, set mini landmark accomplishments during each lap, or every 3 laps or every 2 hours and treat yourself with each milestone. I know for me personally I am going to schedule in a friend to bring me goodies to look forward to … 10pm pizza party! Mentally prepare for it and tell yourself that you will be out for as long as it takes and don’t give up until you have reached your number.
Don’t underestimate the effort it takes to go up and down repetitively for that amount of time, be mentally prepared to break through those pain barriers. Don’t get discouraged and realize you won’t feel 100% every step of the climb. Enjoy the journey, the ups and downs and persevere.
‘Pace yourself, don’t go too hard in the beginning or try to keep up with the speed goats. Stick to your own tried and tested pace! Remember it is an endurance event and your body will feel the elevation gains (and particularly losses) grow.’ (Jennifer Chen)
The absolute last and most common advice we got was don't do it on a hot day.
Overall, go out and really enjoy this new challenge, be grateful that you have the ability to attempt something like this! We are rooting for you and can’t wait to see your activities and to cheer you on (virtually).
Don’t forget to sign up at: https://www.asiatrailgirls.com/everesting-challenge
Thanks to our wonderful array of advice we got from previous Everesters from their failed and successful attempts, that’s what makes this advice so helpful to all as they have all experienced it and know what they are talking about. Thank you Nikki Han (8848m+), Mahezabin Ajmanwala (8848m+), Jinko Takeshige (8848m+), Valerie Lagarde (5015m+), Jennifer Chen (4424m+), Arnaud Picut (4424m+) and Carole Fuchs (Expert Mountaineer and Running Coach).