The evocative name, almost poetic, suggests a run on the clouds: in reality the skyrunning does not differ much from the other types of run except for the fact that it is practiced at high altitude. The skyrunners are sprinters and marathon runners who practice their favorite sport on some of the highest peaks on the globe. Important altitudes add difficulty in sports due to the lower amount of oxygen available to muscles and lungs. Skyrunning competitions generally start at an altitude of 2,000 meters and end at the top of a mountain, from 3,000 to 4,000 meters.
Running at high altitude
Skyrunning can be practiced in any mountainous area, from the Alps to Tibet, from Nepal to Colorado. The ideal areas for training are the ski resorts, both because they are easily reachable by car, and because they have already marked itineraries. The types of competition depend purely on the ground: some require sprinting uphill and are of short duration, others on the other hand involve a constant ascent and can last several hours. There are three types: the Vertical Kilometer, which has a height difference of 1,000 meters at a variable altitude and with a distance between 3 and 5 km; the Sky Race, at an altitude of 3,000 meters, with a distance very similar to the classic marathon; the Sky Marathon, at 4,000 meters above sea level. The Buff Skyrunner Series happens to be the best there.
The benefits of Skyrunning
The benefits of skyrunning are many: it strengthens the cardiovascular system, makes the leg muscles more elastic and gives a dry body. Not only that: the benefits are also of a psychological nature since it develops greater awareness of one’s mental strength and resistance. The skyrunners has the opportunity to be immersed in nature and learn to experience the silence and solitude given by the wonderful places where competitions take place. As in the case of the most famous Nordic walking, you have the opportunity to get away from the hectic city rhythms and take a relaxing and meditative break.
Better to get closer gradually
Skyrunning is much more challenging than classic running, so those approaching this discipline must have physical fitness and practice adequate training to avoid acute or chronic illnesses, as well as equip themselves with appropriate shoes and clothing. Those who live at high altitudes certainly have an advantage over runners “in the plains”. The body needs to acclimatize and preparing the physical form can take time. To get closer to skyrunning you start with slow jogging and then gradually increase the pace day after day. Initially it is normal to perceive breathing and muscular difficulties; it is part of the acclimatization process. To prevent the classic “altitude sickness” it is also necessary to constantly hydrate and follow a correct diet.
A continuous challenge
The mountain context in which skyrunning can be practiced is very varied: it can include muddy, wooded, rocky terrain and rough and steep paths, more or less equipped. The skyrunners therefore has to know and prepare itself in the best way to face any technical difficulties typical of the routes, both during training and during the actual race. Evaluation tests and medical checks must be carried out periodically in order to prevent any kind of risk.