One of the most frequent questions I am asked as a runner moonlighting as a researcher in high altitude exercise physiology, is how to train for a race at altitude while living close to sea level. Imagine you live in London and found yourself winning a place at the CCC. After your initial excitement, you panic realizing you only have one week of annual leave remaining and cannot spend much time getting yourself acclimatized to the higher altitude trails of Chamonix. Are you doomed to fail? Certainly not!
There are some intricate changes that happen in the body to adapt to the changing partial pressure of oxygen at altitudes greater than 1800m. Within 24 hours of arrival at altitude, you can expect a faster heart rate and breathing rate, increased urination, a decrease in VO2 max, and increased EPO production (yep, EPO- which gained a lot of attention thanks to a certain cyclist!).
These complex interactions may help in explaining the symptoms that may arise from exposure to altitudes above 2000m- such as orthostatic hypotension, hypertension, headache, and acute mountain sickness (AMS). 75% of people will experience some form of AMS within 24-72 hours of ascent to altitude over 1800m. So how can you get ready for this adventure?
4-8 Weeks before race
Chantelle has a Bachelor of Science degree and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in High Altitude Exercise Physiology.
Lover of mountains and all things outdoors.
thoughts, feelings and tribulations about running by runners.