Elevation Training

imagesI am spending the week in the Mile High City, commonly known as Denver. As it sits at such a high elevation, I find my lungs burning and feel a little dizzy when I go out for a run. It’s not easy running in altitude and many athletes come to Colorado to train simply because the elevation makes their bodies stronger-almost like feeling as though they have a third lung.

I researched how best to approach elevation training and found the following helpful tips:

Attend a week-long camp. Don’t expect to head to the mountains and spend a day or two training and come home and run faster. The best approach is to attend a running camp that will help you alter your training to make improvements. These include changing your head space–you will find a new level of calmness that you can take to the city streets. It changes you mentally.

Spend more time recovering when running the mountains. You will need to hydrate with more frequency and take a day or two off between runs. Why? In higher elevation, plasma volume decreases and the air is generally much dryer than near sea level. Also, it’s cleaner–and your body will need to adjust to that, as strange as it sounds.

Expect body issues. Because of the thinner air, it’s harder to sleep, making it more difficult to rise up early and strap on your shoes. Also, elevation can affect your gastrointestinal issues, so watch what you eat and be sure to maintain a diet similar to that at home. You may also experience headaches from the dry, thin air, making hydration that much more important.

During the first three days, run at a less volume, even as much as half of what you normally would on any given day. Your body is producing more red blood cells and shifting fluid to the body.

Good luck if you head to the mountains this year! If you are a skier, these tips should help you should you desire to do a little cross training when you head to the slopes.