You might think that I’m crazy..
My preparation for Yukon Arctic
I have been so busy with the preparations, that have not yet been able to share information about everything that has happened. So now I will try to write a bit more in detail about my preparations for Yukon Arctic!
Why is preparation important?
In February, I announced that I had set a new goal for myself, but my first trainings started already in December, and got more serious in January.
The first thing I tried to figure out was cold tolerance, and then took on different sprints, general body training, pulling tires, etc.
During Yukon, it is important to be able to cope with cold, while pulling a sledge, and do it for 690 km.
Surely you think I’m crazy?
Yet these are the things that have to be done to get back home safely. Once you have taken a goal that goes beyond your boundaries. then you take all the responsibility and if something goes wrong, then no one else is to blame.
You need to stay focused, understand all the dangers and set a strategy that would make it easier for me to be the first Estonian to finish Yukon Arctic 2019!
What is my training schedule?
My weekly schedule includes running while pulling a tore three times a week, with different pace and heart rate; swimming twice a week in open water; and full body workouts once a week. I work on my cold tolerance on a daily basis as well. My favourite day, of course, is my rest day once a week, but it always goes by very quickly.
1st CHALLENGE: Building up cold tolerance
From December of last year to June of this year, my day-to-day activity has been tempering the body in the cold both in the mornings and in the evenings. In addition, I have been sitting in the snow, swimming in the pond next to my home several times a day.
At first, it was all quite a shock for the body, because I had to completely come out of my comfort zone. When you first start taking cold showers, it is not for a very long time, but then you start to lengthen the time every day to train your nervous system and resistance. This is definitely one of the most difficult activities, because your brain gives you the signal to stop this nonsense, but you have to withstand it. Before I started building my cold tolerance, I took a 10-week cold training from the Guinness record holder, Wim Hof, during which I had to practice a variety of exercises that motivated and inspired me to train. From various examples in his book, I realized that we are much stronger than we think. The more time I spend training, the easier it get, of course, but it is still difficult to withstand the cold.
I must mention that the hardest part is when you wake up, you are tired or sleepy, and your body is so blocked, that you stand in front of the shower for 10-15 seconds. That is precisely why I know that this is a very important part of my training and I have to practice it more. In Yukon, there will definitely be similar situations during the competition in the mornings. What happens when I wake up in the snow and I have to get out of the sleeping bag with the outside temperature of -35 or -50? it is going to be a real challenge.
2nd CHALLENGE: Training in the open water
In addition to building up cold tolerance, I go swimming in the sea twice a week. I made the first swims in the reservoirs in the beginning of July and now I’ve been swimming mostly in the sea.
The goal of the swimming is, in particular, to simultaneously rest my feet and train in cold resistance.
Open water swimming is definitely one of the most natural exercises to help your body get used to the cold, because if you swim in an 11-degree water without a calypso for 30 minutes, the body will react and the cold will take over. First, the movements become stiffer and you can’t move your fingers very well. This is a sign of hypothermia. You feel like you are becoming a block of ice. After getting out of the water, it takes at least 1 hour to warm in the 18 ° C outside temperature. You can only imagine what your body will be doing at negative degrees, but it is an important process to increase resistance. I go swimming with my coach Eiko Toom, just to make sure nothing happens. I am not a very good swimmer, but I get better every time.
Any one of us can go into the cold for a little while, but can you stay there for 1h? This requires proper preparation, meditation, breathing exercises and the reason “WHY”!
3rd CHALLENGE: Pulling a tire
One of the most difficult parts of my workout is to run for hours, pulling a car tire. When I started, I thought the tire weighs about 15 kg. When I had been running for 2 months, three times a week, I realized that the tire actually weighs 30.4 kg.
The thing that made the tire heavy at first was all the dirt that built up in it. The solution to this problem was macro-flex.
The purpose of pulling the tire is to stimulate pulling the sledge with portable equipment in the Yukon Arctic competition.
I run with the tire for about 8-9 hours a week and aim to train the legs and the entire body.
At first it was a challenge, but now the body is stronger. This is indicated by the heart rate, that I can now control. I’ve also gotten rid of muscle soreness, which was quite serious in the beginning after every tire-run.
Training is hard, but I would rather experience it now and not be overcome by the pain during the competition! These are just the first stage trainings, and the second part begins in late September. In the meantime, I have to work and find good partners, who believe in my undertaking and deal with all the detailed issues relating to the equipment.
But for now, let’s keep on training!
MY TRAININGS SO FAR:
MY NEW CHALLENGE YUKON ARCTIC ULTRA 2019
On my feet for 130km – My run from Tallinn to Pärnu
On the 24th May I ran 130 km – the start was from Peetri Village, the destination – Pärnu.
The aim of the run was to do a longer distance to polish my running technique, and for my muscles to memorise at least one longer run.
Of course, the idea was completely spontaneous – what would happen if I ran to Pärnu?
It is incredible how people are actually capable of much more than they think. That is what truly motivates me – leaving the comfort zone. In today’s society, comfort is everything people want, meaning, getting somewhere needs to be as quick and effortless as possible.
I, on the other hand, have recently been inspired by the less popular attitude, and all I can say is that I can certainly feel the internal growth.
The day before the run
A few days before the run, I did not work out at all, I just rested. On Wednesday morning, I went for a short jog, in order to slightly tone my muscles, and in the evening I went to sleep at 10 pm. I took two sleeping pills, so that I would fall asleep quickly and feel rested in the morning. It worked. I woke up at 2 am in the morning and had a quick smoothie with chia seeds to properly fuel my body with with carbohydrates. I personally like to have such light meals before running. After that, I checked that I have all the necessary things with me: energy bars, gels and, of course, a small first aid kit. This time I ran without an entourage, so I had to carefully plan the entire distance, and be ready to refuel my body when I get tired.
A run in the beautiful nature of Estonia
The start of the run was great, because I was feeling good and I particularly enjoyed seeing different forrest animals, the fog, the weather changing and, of course, the sunrise. It was just breathtakingly beautiful. Just imagine running alone, and everywhere you look, you see pure nature with not a human around. At the same time, the nature offers the kind of beauty that, at first glance, seems unbelievable.
When I had been running for 6 hours at a pace of 7 to 7:30 min/km, I started feeling sleepy for the first time, but after another 30 minutes of running I somehow felt good again.
I had reached one of the most difficult roads in Estonia – the Tallinn-Pärnu highway – where after 42 km I felt a standstill in my mind. I immediately used my energy gel and the meditation I learned in yoga. I don’t know exactly what worked, the energy gel or the meditation, but somehow I got my strength back and ran on towards Märjamaa Circle K. I had only 0.5 litres of water left, and wasn’t sure if it would last me until then. Fortunately, there was a café on the road before Circle K, where I filled my bottle with cold water and cooled down for a moment. I knew that I did not have much left until my pitstop and did not want to add too much weight at the expense of water.
The hard part was still ahead
The first big refuelling was in Märjamaa Circle K, where I had quick meal. I drank a lot of water and had something savoury to eat, because I had had enough of sweet snacks already. I also met a friend with whom, of course, I did not have time to talk to. I was in my bubble and it seemed like I was loosing my mind a little bit. I guess it really was the case!
When I reached the middle of the Tallinn-Pärnu highway, I felt like I was back in the wilderness, like during the last year’s Marathon Des Sables 32, where I had to cool my body down the same way.
An inside fight
The next part of the run was a fight against sun-induced drowsiness and muscle pains. When I left the Märjamaa gas station and had been running for about 30 minutes, the sun completely wore me out. I felt like my body was thrown on a grill alive. It was so unpleasant that I felt like I was losing consciousness, but I prevented it with a small guarana shot (https://matkasport.ee/products/MDY-Liquid-Pure-Guarana), which instantly made everything clear. I also began to think that I had blisters, because my legs felt very strange. I took off my socks to check, and fortunately everything was fine. Taking all that into consideration, I can say that the Inov-8 equipment is just great (https://www.facebook.com/inov8estonia/).
For the onward run, I had planned to have enough water until the next Olerex gas station. Because of the blazing sun, though, I ran out of water 10 km before the planned stop, and so the torture began. The pace slowed down, the sun was blazing, and the only bursts of cool air came from the big trucks passing me. This moment can not be described in any other word than simply “horrible”.
When I reached the Olerex gas station, I immediately drank one Borjomi water and a smoothie, and ate a sprat sandwich. After having ran for 85 km, the Olerex gas station was one of the best things, since I could use the toilet and of course I needed to properly cool down. Every time I stopped, I poured a large bottle of cold water directly onto my head and clothes to cool my body. That is how I confused my heart rate a bit as well.
The last part – fight till the end
Now the pace was already somewhat lower, but I fought against myself and told myself that pain is just an illusion and nothing else. I had to use two pain killers to soften the blows of the asphalt to my feet.
There was 40 km was left to Pärnu and my next stop was Are, I jogged forward and tried to keep a steady heart rate, keep track of my feet, and make sure I have enough water and other supplies.
Before reaching Are, I reached Alexela gas station, where I just had to run in to cool my body down, because I felt like I was about to die. From there, I still had 25 km to go, and the end was so slow, that I thought about giving up at least three times. When I reached Are, a former acquaintance from Pärnu came to meet me, and brought me cold water and savoury seljanka soup. In addition to everything, I also got a slight cramp, after which my movement was more of jogging/walking and at the end the pace was 9 min/km. The fact that my acquaintance and his friends had to come to meet me and ran with me was very positive, because the last 13 km just passed so slowly that I really wanted to end all this “crap” 😀
I thought that walking would mess up my average time, but in fact it was very good. All in all, everything went well.
But the main thing is, that whenever a run is over, I always feel good, and I think that this feeling is the reason I keep doing things like this.
Finally, I would like to thank all my followers for their support on social media. And you know what?…. Our Estonia is one of the most beautiful places in the world. As Estonians, we have to be happy that we were born here.
Thank you very much!
Tomorrow I will run from Peetriküla to Pärnu
In preparation for Yukon Artic Ultra run, it is important for my feet to get comfortable with longer distances.
For that, I will have a day for myself and I will run from Peetriküla to Pärnu with the distance of 130 kilometers.
The goal is to run 15 hours straight, but it all depends on how I’m feeling – I might even finish faster.
I picked that route, because there are many gas stations on the road. There I can refill my water bottles and eat when I get hungry. I will count all the hotdogs at the end of the day and let you know. 😀
I have planned to start the run at 3 AM, so I can get back home by the evening on the same day.
I will start from home on thursday 3am and my goal is to get to Pärnu by 6pm on Thursday. I will share my moments and whereabouts on Instagram.
Description of the distance:
Tallinn (Peetri küla) – Kernu 42 km
Kernu – Märjama Circle K 25 Km
Märjamaa Circle K – Jadivere Olerex 24,5 Km
Jadivere Olerex – Nurme tankla 31,6 km
Nurme Tankla – Pärnu 6,8 km
Why the Yukon Arctic Ultra Race?
I’ve recently neglected my blog a bit because I spent a month away from Estonia. Unfortunately, in most places there was no internet connection, so my emotions could not really be transmitted in real time, but I’ll make sure to share my backpacking photos and videos with you in my next blog post. For now, I would like to give you a glimpse of my new challenge, so you could understand what it is and why I decided to take it on.
When I finished the desert marathon Marathon Desables 32 last year, it made me feel so good, that I can’t even describe the feeling – you just have to be there to understand.
Why the Yukon Arctic Ultra Race?
Last year, after completing the desert marathon successfully, one of the competitors joked, that the next one will be the Yucon Arctic Race. I, of course, was curious what it was. When I heard more about it, I just had that feeling of … oh, maybe I should really do it! At that time, it was certainly not an exact plan, because it just seemed too crazy and a bit of a “suicide” to take it on.
My main goal has been to learn from these challenges, because this is the one thing that pushes me forward in my life and I can use this knowledge in my work. Although I completed the desert marathon, I had a lot of difficult moments, but during the race itself I did not think about them. If anyone asked me what was most difficult, then I would say that with these projects it is most difficult to find people who will come along with it all. I also never had initiated a charity project. It became a real challenge for me, because collecting a budget amount through grants is much more difficult than it may seem.
All this has taken time, and I am glad we got the first charity project together. I use the term “our park” because, with this project I wanted to show that in reality there is not just a single person, but a whole volunteer team, behind the initiative – as evidenced by the names of all the supporters, written on the stand of the health park square!
With Yucon Arctic Ultra Race I would like to invite even more Estonian people to work together and help create 10 new training parks in Estonia. The desire is to bring together small communities and create something nice that would help highlight the right values. Exactly three months ago, I was advised to read “What Doesn’t Kill Us” by Wim Hof, and in doing so I got a lot of inspiration and ideas on how to improve my workouts and results, and I am immensely enthusiastic about the book.
I have been doing various breathing and cold exercises since January to help my body fight everything that is waiting for me. One might even say that I have become a victim of human experimentation!?
Participation in the Yucon Arctic Ultra Race is definitely a challenge – the mere idea of waking up and going straight into the cold water was, at first, quite strange. The first month of training, I stayed under the cold water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and now I have extended this time.
It can be said that I’m leaving my comfort zone and getting to feel what real life is. Everyone can certainly do this, but it’s not about how you go into the cold environment, but how you can control your body in cold weather, so that you don’t freeze too quickly. I have also been testing, by means of breathing exercises, how to confuse my inner “computer” so that the body is able to absorb oxygen faster, which can prevent the formation of too much lactic acid in the muscles. That’s my goal at the moment, but whether it really works, will become clear in the course of further workouts. Of course, I have not yet understood everything, but I’m working to make the journey more enjoyable than it really is.
The most problematic will be the equipment that I have to order and which I plan to tailor to fit me, because it is going to be a race in really extreme conditions. My previous interview, in which I confirmed that I am aware of all the dangers, is also a testament to that.
In total, it is necessary to complete 690 km in the snow, carrying all the food and supplies on a sledge behind you. The fact that I am going to take part in the competition does not scare me as much as knowing what has happened to people in the previous races. It motivates me to better prepare for the challenge. This is one of the world’s toughest races, and this fact is also reflected in the number of sign-ups which, including me, is currently 18 people.
There is a lot of work and overcoming boundaries ahead, but I will do my best to come back from the Yucon Arctic Ultra Race in one piece.
There are still challenges to write about – so stay tuned!
Joel Juht will risk his life in the world’s hardest extreme race in North Canada
As probably the first ever Estonian, Joel Juht will be participating in Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, the world’s toughest extreme race, which will be taking place in North Canada in February 2019. This is and ultra-run with toughest conditions, where participants must fight extreme weather. The ice and snow trail, the mountain ranges, the frozen rivers and the unpredictable glaciers of Yukon’s -50 degree winter are made to test all human capabilities.
The Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra has been described as a true survival course, where during 13 days you have to complete 690 kilometres. This challenge puts every competitor’s stamina, courage and response speed to the test, and forces them to face their biggest fears. The ultra-run has three different distances, and the competitors can choose whether to complete it on a mountain bike, on skis, or on foot.
Joel Juht is an amateur sportsman, entrepreneur, the founder of Estonia’s largest street dance school, choreographer and a true adventurer, who is constantly looking for new challenges. For the past 15 years, he has actively contributed to the development of young people and is constantly forcing his body and mind to learn something new in order to stay out of the comfort zone. Sports and staying active has always been a significant part of his life, but it is sports that have taught him discipline and made it easier to stay focused during tough moments.
Last spring, Joel Juht completed the 247 kilometre ultra-run, Marathon Des Sables 32, in the Sahara Desert. Another challenge was the successful participation in the Estonian Golf Championship, where he reached HCP 14 level, after only playing for three months. Now Juht is ready for the third challenge.
His driving force is his adventurous spirit, fear and the knowledge that, through his stories and experiences, he can inspire more people to act, overcome their fears and become better people. Joel’s ventures always go hand in hand with charity work. Last year, in the Sahara desert, he raised funds to open a health part of Metsatareke orphanage, and it was recently opened. Now Joel’s aim is to build similar parks all over Estonia.
Preparations for the toughest ultra-run in the world have been going on for a few months now, and there is about 300 days left until the beginning of the event.