Ultra-runner Matt Flaherty has lived in Chicago for the past several years, amd has to work to find vertical on his training runs. Flaherty takes a few minutes, below, to share his experience tracking “vert” on his Ambit.
by Matt Flaherty: Growing up, I was never a very technologically minded runner. I bought five-dollar watches from Target that had only the simplest stopwatch functionality (I could scarcely afford a more expensive watch, as I often lost them). … Those were also the days of running circles around a track, days of running one of just a few pre-measured routes daily with my cross-country mates. I ran by feel, and I had little need for anything more.
A few years ago, I took the trail instincts of my childhood days running around the woods, and I began to use them in my training. I not only trained on trails, but I started to race on them as well. I now regularly race 50 miles or more at a time—up narrow glens, over mountain passes and through rolling woodlands. As one might imagine, such runs involve a lot of vertical gain and loss.
One of the most important lessons I learned in my early days racing on the track and the roads is the importance of specificity in one’s training. One must prepare for the exact challenges presented in a goal race by simulating those challenges in training. On the track, this means training for a unique combination of speed and endurance. But on the trails and in the mountains, it also means preparing to climb and descend.
My Suunto Ambit arms me with all of the information I need to prepare specifically for the rigors of mountain trail racing. I can craft training routes that mirror the vertical gain and loss per mile of an upcoming race. I can see how big a particular climb or descent is, as well as my pace , in real time, while running it. A vertical profile on my watch face provides a helpful visual representation.
Later, on Movescount.com, I can quickly see total time spent ascending, descending and running on flat terrain along with a host of other data. I can see a map of my route, and I can share it with my friends and teammates in the Movescount community. My Suunto Ambit has become an integral part of my training, enabling me to run with greater curiosity and freedom, and with the confidence that I am prepared for the challenges ahead.