Training at altitude


Hi. I live in miami fl and i  have an altitude question.
I’m racing las vegas half ironman 70.3 world championship on sept 8 2013, however I’m planning on going to Bogota
Colombia (27000mts/ 9000feet) between august 23 to sep 2 and then sep 2 go to las vegas for the race.
How do you think will that affect my race?? what can i do to prepare for my race in terms of altitude?
Thank you so much for any thoughts on the subject.

Thank you for your questions about exercise in relation to high altitude.

Training in a high altitude environment to improve athletic performance at sea level (or close to sea level)
is a popular technique amongst athletes from many different disciplines, particularly those involved in
endurance sports. However, despite the many people using altitude exposure as a means of gaining a competitive
edge, the scientific justification for altitude training is limited. In particular, there are no high quality
studies of altitude exposure comparing this with the same training at sea level altitudes.

Regarding the research that has been published, in some studies people living and training at altitude improved
their subsequent athletic performance at sea level, although this has not been replicated in all studies.
There may also be some people who will respond to altitude exposure whilst others will not. However, the
duration of exposure to altitude in these studies was usually around 3-4 weeks; some would suggest that at least
2 weeks would be required to obtain any physiological benefit from altitude exposure. Therefore the duration of
time for which you are in Bogotá may be too brief to provide you with any significant benefit.

It is difficult to predict how your time in Bogotá will affect your athletic performance at the 70.3 in Las Vegas.
The altitude in Bogotá is not so high that you are likely to suffer from altitude illness (although this is
possible). However, the reduced amount of oxygen in the atmosphere will mean that your maximal exercise efforts
will be reduced. Further, you will also have to work harder to achieve the same absolute work rate compared to
undertaking the same session at sea level. This can result in a slower pace for a fixed work rate training
session, something which is worth bearing in mind when undertaking training sets at altitude. Heart rate will
also be increased during submaximal exercise, which should also be taken into account if you use heart rate
monitoring during training.

I will also be racing in Las Vegas; I hope you have a
great time.


Dr Alistair Simpson MBChB MSc FRCA

| April 18th, 2014 | Posted in Questions to the mountain doc team |

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