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  • As a side note, Matt and I will be heading over to Bodyology’s lab and altitude chamber for some testing and training to see for ourselves. We’ll let you know what we think.

  • Paulmapp

    Guys,
    Really keen to hear about and or try myself. What training are you guys going to undertake? Sessions per week / time / intensity / block length?

  • couldhavgonepro
  • JD

    Very interesting. I did a high altitude trek a couple of years ago when I was also training regularly for marathons. We spent 3 weeks at 3000+ metres altitude, including a week at 4000+ and a few days at 5000+. Sleeping was VERY difficult due to the lack of oxygen and my bodies ability to regulate breathing efficiently whilst sleeping (speficically at 5000+). During waking and treking periods it was fine however (but hard).

    1 week after returning ran the Sydney marathon with no garmin and no pacers – just ran according to how I was feeling. Best time ever, and most importantly, really enjoyed the race. Felt energetic and happy for the whole 42 k’s.
    Would be keen to do it again, but see how it transferred to bike endurance with an Audax endurance event or similar.

    • Guest

      How much of that result of the hike? A few years back I hike the Australian Alps Walking Track and when I got back on my bike I was 10% faster over a 10 minute climb that I was doing regularly at the time. I thought that was pretty good given that I hadn’t riden in two months. I reckon the gains from hiking would better transfer to running than cycling.

    • How much of that result of the hike? A few years back I hiked the Australian Alps Walking Track and when I got back on my bike I was 10% faster over a 10 minute climb that I was doing regularly at the time. I thought that was pretty good given that I hadn’t riden in two months. I reckon the gains from hiking would better transfer to running than cycling.

      • JD

        Yes – quite possibly regarding running versus cycling gains. I’m saving up my holidays for another 3 week trek. I’ll let you know the results when I’m back. :-)

  • this is my first time commenting on this blog, and it´s very interesting all the articles. I appreciate your time sharing this information. From Mexico. Thanks

  • What is the go with safety for these devices? Sleeping with oxygen saturation monitor? If so what level are they set to?

    How about the tents – do they have oxygen monitors? What percentage oxygen are the tents set to and are there alarms set to 19.5%? Without regular zeroing in fresh air how would one know that the oxygen reading and/or levels aren’t slowly drifting given that the consequence would be loss of consciousness?

    • Ben Griffin

      Hi Rohan, some really good questions here mate. I can only answer these questions from what we do in our facility (although I would imagine most places that undertake altitude training would have similar practices). Firstly we do an altitude tolerance test on anyone before starting altitude training, this allows us to determine a person’s tolerance to altitude ie the quicker the saturation levels come down, the less tolerant they are and hence we need to be more conservative with our prescription. Anyone then training in the chamber always wears a pulse oximeter, to constantly monitor their saturation levels. We rarely let anyone’s saturations levels drop below 80%, unless they have quite a bit of experience at altitude. We usually have our chamber set between 3000-3500m. Our chamber is fitted with a sensor that continually monitors the atmosphere of the room, and then regulates the amount of either oxygen or nitrogen being pumped into the room. Hope this helps Rohan.

  • jules

    you guys missed another benefit of altitude training – an excuse to visit remote locations, where you are less likely to receive a visit from the vampires.

    having also done a trek in Nepal, i can confirm sleeping at high altitude (>4000m) sucks majorly. you feel and sleep like crap.

  • Ben Griffin

    Hi Everyone, really enjoyed reading all the comments here regarding altitude training. Obviously a lot of what we do with altitude is based on research but also from trial and error with our training prescription. It has been really good to read some first-hand accounts of other people’s experience with altitude training and how that impacted their training.

  • HiRiding77

    Nice article and good insight. I have been living in Colombia (Bogota) now for the past 1.5yrs – the city is at 2,600m and many local climbs top out at well over 3200m.

    Acclimatisation to the altitude took a LONG time and even then, I simply cannot put out any where near the power for the same duration as what can be done at sea level. I have noticed the following factors with altitude (personal experience and not a scientific fact):

    * drop in FTP of up to 20% (at this altitude). I ride with a bunch of expats and have seen similar drop offs
    * recovery time is way longer, especially from very hard efforts (if you usually take 2.5min recovery after 5min intervals, you need at least double initially until you acclimatise). Even after acclimatisation, your interval power is lower and recovery time is slightly longer

    * recovery after intense sessions takes longer. Where I’d be ready to back up again the next day at sea level, up here, need a very light day the next day

    * there is a VERY fine line between being comfortable and red-line – even after good acclimatisation you just can’t seem to hang on the edge as long as you can at sea level.
    * anything up to 1min doesn’t seem to be impacted as much (at least that’s what I’ve found). And with the reduced air pressure, you can absolutely hammer a sprint and crack 65/70km/h! Motor pacing up here is seriously fast!
    * I agree with the comment about the 3 day window after altitude. I’ve noticed very strong performance initially and then a drop off until about 3 weeks post altitude. Mainly I think the intensity (hence IF and TSS) of rides is higher when returning to sea level, hence seem to accumulate more training stress/fatigue, or so it seems to me.
    * don’t try and stick with a local who’s lived and trained their whole life at this altitude – that’s just asking for trouble and lots of it!

    My FTP at this altitude has somewhat stabilised and I think it would be very difficult to push it up too much higher without much more volume – which is two edged sword as recovery from sessions is harder. Certainly not anywhere near what the local mountain goats born at this altitude can hit. I don’t know what the science behind it is, but they certainly seem to have a genetic advantage! Anyway, great article CTP and Ben – sorry for such a long post!

    • Guest

      Wow all the way down to mild hypoxia. I sure didn’t expect that.

    • Ben Griffin

      Great to hear some feedback from someone who lives and trains regularly at high altitude. Seems like you have had some similar experiences to what I have found. No doubt there is a genetic component to people who are actually born at altitude, they will always cope better than us. Would be great to keep updated about your training over there in Bogota

  • YogaSportFrance

    Great article, and the recovery factors are good to note. I use a couple of things regularly to simulate altitude training as best I can at near sea level (Paris, France); apnee (breath holds while walking) and riding/walking with a mask on to reduce available oxygen. I use a pulse oximeter to keep track of oxygen levels in the blood and this is important for safety. Overall I find I can sprint more and longer if I have done one of the above earlier in the day.
    Cheers, Nick

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