If you’re in the mountains for work or leisure, make the most of your time at altitude and don’t let it get the best of you.
For runners who don’t live in the Eastern Sierras or in the hills of Colorado, altitude training is a tactic normally associated with elite athletes looking for an edge. However, many runners may end up training or racing at altitude at some point in their running career. Perhaps your goal race is run at altitude (e.g, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon and half Marathon, or the St. George Marathon, which starts at 5,000 feet and drops 2,560 feet); maybe you happen to have a work conference scheduled somewhere other than at sea level; or maybe you’re planning on taking your family vacation to the mountains to escape the oppressive summer heat. Whatever your reason for spending a brief amount of time in the thin, mountain air, how can you make the most of your time at altitude and not let it get the best of you?
This article won’t be an in-depth discussion about the physiological adaptations elicited by altitude training; rather, we’re going to focus on specific and practical steps you can take to make the most of your brief altitude stint, whether it’s to train, race or just visit for work or vacation.