Why Get High?
Why do runners and other endurance athletes move to high altitude environments in the first place? Although the scenic grandeur in such locales is usually considerable, this is not usually a motivating factor. The main reason runners head for the hills is because high-altitude air contains less oxygen than sea-level air, a situation that forces the body to compensate in a variety of ways conducive to improved distance-running performance.
Almost immediately upon moving to high altitude, your kidneys start cranking out increased amounts of erythropoetin (EPO), the hormone responsible for stimulating red blood cell (RBC) production in bone marrow. There is a lag period of about ten days before RBC levels rise, and with it, your body’s capacity for transporting oxygen from your lungs to your muscles and other tissues.
I’ll mention some other physiological changes later, but for now, realize this: Living and training solely at high altitude is not enough to make you a faster runner. That’s a bummer, and the reason is that despite your elevated RBC count – reflected as an increase in hemoglobin and hematocrit values – you’ll experience a detraining effect. No matter how well acclimatized to high altitude you are, you can’t bang out the anaerobic speed intervals, such as repeat 400s and 800s at mile to 5K race pace, that you need in abundance as a middle-distance runner and need to a lesser degree in the long distances. This is where “live high/train low” comes into play.Pages: 1 2 3