why do runners train at high altitudes

Extracts from this document. Why do athletes train at high altitudes? Athletes train at high altitudes to increase the energy available to the body. One way of doing this is to increase the amount of oxygen to the blood. At high altitudes (e. g. on the top of a mountain), the air is 'thin' and the oxygen content is much lower. What is 'thin' air? As the human body travels up in altitude, it is exposed to a state of hypoxia (low oxygen). The actual percentage of oxygen in the air doesn't change, but the barometric pressure decreases, and this in-turn decreases the amount of oxygen that can be extracted during respiration. This is what is meant by 'thin-air' at altitude. A decrease in maximum cardiac output, a decreased maximum heart rate 2. An increased number of red blood cells 3. Excretion of base via the kidneys to restore acid-base balance (this results in a lower tolerance for lactic acid) 4.

A chemical change within the red blood cells that makes them more efficient at unloading oxygen to the tissues 5. An increase in the number of mitochondria and oxidative enzymes. RED BONE KIDNEYS MARROW LOW TENSION STIMULATES TISSUE ORGAN RED BLOOD CELLS INCREASED NUMBERS RAISE OXYGEN CARRYING CAPACITY Amy Knighting 12JB
This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our section. It s not all about blood tests, though. Mike Smith, who directs one-week altitude-training camps in Flagstaff for the Run SMART Project, points out that even short stints at altitude offer an advantage because the lack of oxygen makes the training feel harder. You can push hard and learn to tolerate greater discomfort without the added stress on your joints and muscles that would result from running faster or farther at sea level. Here s how to give getting high a try.

Plan your trip Set aside at least seven days (10 is better), and choose a destination with good trails. Flagstaff, Boulder, and Albuquerque are popular, but the choice of mountain towns is endless. Timing your return may be tricky--some athletes feel off as they readjust to lower altitude, while some like to race shortly after arriving home. If it s your first time, err on the side of caution, and come back two to three weeks before a goal race. Supplement You need adequate iron stores to boost hemoglobin levels, so include iron-rich foods--like red meat, beans, and dark leafy greens--in your diet before you leave and after you arrive. You also need to pay more attention to staying hydrated, since you ll be losing fluid through your lungs and skin in the dry mountain air-- insensible fluid loss that doesn t trigger thirst as powerfully as sweat losses in more humid environments.

Back Off It s tempting to cram as much hard work as possible into a short training getaway, but overdoing it when you arrive at altitude can overstress your immune system and interfere with your body s ability to boost red blood cell production. For the first three days, stick to easy runs and reduce your mileage by 25 percent. If you feel good at that point, you can try intervals or tempo runs at half-marathon effort or slower. Progress to faster workouts only if you re there for more than a week. Think Effort, not Pace Depending on the elevation, your workouts will likely be three to 15 percent slower than usual. Ditch your watch and focus on running by feel, so that your effort matches your goals for the session. If you finish an easy run feeling like you ve just run a hard race, you re off-target. * * * Check out Alex Hutchinson s blog, and follow him on Twitter.

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