Running Geek: Ultra X Training Camp With Eric Orton

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RunCamp-FeaturedAs a continuation of my running training, I visited Jackson Hole, Wyoming last week to take part in Eric Orton’s Ultra X Training Camp. I ran over 50 miles, climbing almost 18,000 feet in the Teton Mountains.

RunCamp-Peak
Photo by Will James.

I’ve been working with Orton via his online coaching for a little over a year and a half now. While I’ve seen tremendous gains in my running, I really wanted to take it to the next level and get some face-to-face coaching to really focus in. Orton’s Mountain Running Academy offers several options for runners who want to train with him in person in Jackson Hole.

RunCamp-View
What a view! Photo by Will James.

I opted for the Ultra X camp because it’s a slightly more intense camp with fewer people–I met three other amazing runners, and there is no better way to become friends than to spend three long days together pushing yourself to and beyond your perceived limits.

RunCamp-Lake
Marion Lake on our optional run. Photo by Will James.

I have never worked so hard, been so exhausted, felt so powerful, and witnessed such beauty as I did at this camp. I also got exactly what I wanted out of the camp–those in-person moments where a seemingly small adjustment to what I’ve been doing allows me to make a leap forward in my form, skill, and efficiency. And I got that several times over during the camp. I can’t wait for my next race where I can truly put what I learned about my form to the test. You can be sure to read all about my race in a couple of weeks.

RunCamp-Marmot
So that’s what a marmot looks like. Photo by Will James.

In addition to the running and camaraderie, I got to experience quite a few new things in Jackson Hole. Along with a bunch of run-of-the-mill wildlife, I saw several pikas, a couple of marmots, a moose, and even a bear! I also got to soak my legs and feet in an icy alpine lake and drink the most refreshing water from a waterfall (after purification with a SteriPEN). Lastly, I got to do some very basic climbing and scrambling, which was a lot more fun and less scary than I thought it would be.

RunCamp-Climb
Feeling like Spider-Man. Photo by Will James.

Gear check time! While the majority of my gear hasn’t changed, I did want to talk about a couple of new additions and an old faithful. I wore my Injinji Trail socks for the entire time, and I didn’t get a single blister or even a hot spot. That alone makes the Injinji my number one piece of gear.

The newest addition to my gear was a pair of McFadden compression arm sleeves. After the first two days of being at such a high altitude in the sun, I was getting a pretty decent sunburn despite all of my sunscreen. With these arm sleeves on, I was able to keep the sun off of my already sore arms. They were the perfect combination of sun protection and breathability, allowing me to be safe without being overheated.

The final addition isn’t really anything new as much as a replacement piece of gear. I needed a new bladder for my Nathan Hydration Vest, so I went to the source and bought the latest model from HydraPak. HydraPak has made two really great modifications to the pack since my original–a 90 degree bite valve for easier drinking and a built-in baffle to more evenly distribute the weight of your liquid and keep the bladder more upright in your pack.

Is one of Orton’s camps for you? If you’re an ultra runner, old or new, (I only have one under my belt), then I can’t recommend the Ultra X camp enough, especially if you want to really test and push yourself and elevate your running to the next level. There is almost nothing that can compare to running in the Tetons. Orton’s Cool Impossible Run Camps are designed for slightly less experienced runners but still give the benefit of in-person coaching with an amazing coach along with the experience of the Tetons.

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