In 2018, I decided to take my ultra running journey international and run Mont Blanc.
For the trip, I turned to Territory Run CO, an independent trail running apparel brand created to empower the wild-hearted to chase down their dreams. Through Territory, I met former military personnel, professional moms, educators, interior designers, and cosmetic tattooists who share my love of ultrarunning; I wouldn't have met these kindred spirits otherwise.
Territory Run organized the trip along Tour Mont Blanc (TMB), an existing trail that circumnavigates the Mont Blanc Massif mountain range in the Alps across Italy, Switzerland, and France. The TMB trip was organized by Run the Alps, a trail running tour company that helps provide for the best trail running and logistics in the Swiss, French, and Italian Alps. Run the Alps provides both guided and self-guided trips.
With approximately 109 miles of trail and 30k feet of ascent and descent, Tour Mont Blanc is a top bucket list thing among trail runners. It’s one of the big, amazing runs with spectacular scenery that you do if you can. I decided about 6 months ahead of the trip that I was going, and started researching.
As soon as I’d paid them, I started training. I planned weekly trips out to mountainous trails of Mt Hood National Forest here in Oregon, and the limited number of trails open in the Columbia River Gorge after the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. To get additional steep climbing, I used our incline trainer at 20-30% incline grade for 60 to 90 minutes at a time (this was mentally challenging, but helped a lot).
I ran the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon in April with other members of Territory Run, including several who planned to run Mont Blanc. It was a big training event, with approximately 44 miles and 12k feet of ascent and descent. My training for this run was difficult in its own right, and really kept me on schedule for training for the Alps.
Integrating training into my work was key to success. I do my best to be mindful of mostly standing during the day and integrating balance and stability exercises both while working on tasks and during conference calls. I do concentric and eccentric calf raises and stretches to strengthen the achilles tendon and help improve stabilizer muscle strength. With the number of hills I run, the arches of my feet get very tight.
To help prevent and stave off recurring plantar fasciitis, I used a combination of Topo Mat foot and ankle stretching, and myofascial release using a lacrosse ball on top of the mat. Here are some of the exercises I developed using Topo and my Fully workspace: