Camp Chaski - Mountain Ultra Trail - Recap

Our first ever week of Camp Chaski is the books and what a week it was!

With a focus on Mountain, Ultra, Trail, we spent a week discussing the most important topics in our sport with some of the best athletes in the game.

While it’s impossible to pull so much wisdom (and hilarity) out of a week of interactive masterclasses into one post, we’ll do our best to give you some quick takeaways.

You can still sign up for Week 2: "Track/Road/Marathon" and Week 3: "By Women, For Women" and learn from and interact with our incredible lineup of Olympians, Record Holders, and genuine human beings.

Day 1 - “We’re All a Little Mental Here” - Mind Training for the MUT Athlete

Devon Yanko, Michael Wardian, and Emily Schmitz

Devon, Mike, and Emily started us off by taking a deep look inside the mind of the ultra runner. Mike - famous for his mental toughness in events like the Quarantine Backyard Ultra - explained how mental toughness is trainable in the same way that physical toughness is, while Emily walked us through a specific exercise she uses to practice positivity when things get tough out there. Finally, Devon talked us through how to stay mentally engaged and motivated, especially in a year like 2020 where races are being cancelled and goals may have to become more internal.

The big takeaway? Just like the act of running, we have to find ways to practice being mentally tough in training so we’ll be tough as nails on race day. Know your “why”!

Day 2 - “The Brass Tacks” - Training the Body for Ultra Endurance

Tyler Andrews, Calum Neff, Michael Wardian

Ty, Cal, and Mike took us through a deep dive “into the weeds” to look at how top level ultra runners prepare for their races and how athletes of any level acn apply this to their own training. Ty took us through a close look at the “funnel” method of constructing a training plan for a “high-paced” ultra (like a road 50K to 50 miler), while Cal explained the principles around the “sweet spot” of 50M to 100km racing and Mike took us through his experience training for 100M+ and multi-day races.

The big takeaway? Specificity is key! Whether that’s speed, vert, altitude, heat, or technicality, always be training for the specifics of your event.

Day 3 - “How to Bend, not Break” - Recovery and Injury Prevention for MUT Athletes

Ashley Brasovan and Kimber Mattox

Unfortunately, Ashley and Kimber both have a lot of experience dealing with injuries. Ashley has famously dealt with six (!) femoral stress fractures while Kimber had a mysterious injury that she thought would end her running career forever. Yet, both of these women have come back stronger than ever and shared some fantastic advice about how to deal with an injury and how to take care of your body for preventative maintenance.

The big takeaway? The best treatment for an injury is the treatment that prevents the injury! Find your weaknesses and work on them with targeted strength and mobility work.

Oh, and sleep more. And sleep better.

Day 5 - “An Eating Contest for Runners” - Nutrition and Fueling for Ultra

Devon Yanko, Michael Wardian, and Carolyn Stocker, R.D.

Devon, Mike, and Carolyn explained the science and pragmatics of fueling as an ultra runner, both in practice and on race day. Carolyn helped us de-mystify some of the science behind nutrition (including how to separate fads from good advice) while Mike and Devon shared their personal experiences of fueling their bodies while training and competing at the highest level all over the world. We learned what works for each of them (everyone likes potato chips, Devon likes jelly beans as an alternative to gels) and what advice they’d give to others (figure out what works for you in training!).

The big takeaway? “Be like water” - be adaptive and go with the flow, especially on race day. Don’t become too rigid about your race fuel or you’re bound to end up in trouble at some point!

Day 6 - “It’s Game Time” - Making the most of your race day experience

Dani Moreno, Pete Kostelnick, and Kris Brown

On this penultimate night of camp, Dani, Pete, and Kris regaled us with hilarious stories of race-weeks and race-days gone well and gone awry (and lessons we can all learn from all ends of the spectrum). Dani gave us some advice on race week (staying out of trouble) while Pete and Kris took us through some important race-day prep (from how to best utilize aid stations, drop bags, and gear to how to relieve yourself appropriately on the trail). Oh - and don’t forget to stick around for the post-race party!

The big takeaway? Don’t go out too fast, don’t try anything new on race day, don’t go out too fast, and don’t go out too fast.

Day 7 - “We’re All Having Fun Here” - Our Athletic Brewing Closing Campfire

The whole squad!

We finished things up with the Athletic Brewing Closing Campfire where (almost) all our presenters shared stories - with moments of levity (like Kris’ exploration of the bizarre “stage race/maybe a cult/maybe a running club”) and moments of inspiration (like Mike’s story of coming back from a horrible series of pelvic stress fractures to accomplish some of his life-time goals in his 40s). This was definitely a favorite and while there wasn’t any planned, unifying theme, everyone seemed to touch on the ideas of overcoming hardship to achieve goals and finding joy in community.

The big takeaway? Everyone struggles; everyone has self doubt. We rely on our internal drive and the community around us to push us through those struggles. Embrace them.

In closing

If there was one overarching take away from this first week of Camp Chaski, I think it’s this:

Everyone is an experiment of one.

All of us have unique stories and backgrounds and will respond differently to different styles of training and nutrition and goals. Find what works for you, embrace it, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Thanks to the 70+ campers who came out - we hope to see you again soon!


Team Chaski

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