High Altitude Training Increases Speed, Strength & Endurance

High altitude training is a type of training done in a high altitude region, typically defined as any elevation above 1,500 metres (5,000 ft). Runners who have trained in high altitude have shown an increase in running speed, strength and endurance.

High altitude regions have thin air and oxygen is little. Training in this kind of environment changes your body in one or more ways. The changes are similar to the changes that happen when athletes use banned performance enhancing drugs such as EPO (increases erythropoietin concentration)  and blood doping (Increases red blood cells in the body). In simple terms, high altitude training is another type of legal performance enhancing drug.

How High Altitude Training Increases Running Speed

  1. Increasing the number of red blood cells and haemoglobin
  2. Increasing the number of red blood cells and haemoglobin
  3. increased erythropoietin (EPO) levels
  4. Higher VO2 max,

When this changes happen in a body, a runner is able to transport more oxygen to muscles. With more oxygen reaching the muscles, a runner is able to run faster and further. These changes remain in the body for up to 22 days. After this, the body reverts to the old levels. An athlete must participate in a competitive race within that window to see any benefits.

Effects of High Altitude training on sprinters

It has been shown sprinters whose discipline is primarily anaerobic activity do not necessarily benefit from altitude training as they do not rely on oxygen to fuel their performances.

The Best Altitude Level To Enhance Performance

In a research by (Gore et al., 1997) of highly trained athletes, four weeks of training at an altitude of 1740 m produced no change in mass of hemoglobin in the blood and only a small increase in maximum oxygen consumption . The conclusion was that higher altitudes are needed to stimulate red cell production in athletes. The majority of high altitude centres such as Iten in kenya are located in altitudes of 2400m – 3000m above sea level.  The limit of 300m is important because that is where altitude sickness starts to kick in. The symptoms are headaches, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and feeling sick.

Product in The market that simulate high altitude environment.

Nitrogen Tent. Is a tent that simulates altitudes of up to 2700 m (9000 ft) and can be modified to simulate up to 4000 m (14,000 ft).  The tent is flushed with air diluted with nitrogen. It reduces the oxygen content from the normal 21% to around 15%. The tent is set up on a bed or on the floor. The advantages are substantial: it is truly portable; it can be used with little or no disruption of family life, study, or work; and it is easily the best way to establish the altitude and program of exposure that suits the individual. The units are moderately expensive (US$5500), but comparable to the cost of a trip to a mountain and similar in price to other equipment used by top athletes. See the official website.

High Altitude Training Centres Around The World For Boosting Running Speed

If you want to get faster at running you need to visit one of these high altitude training centres.

Iten In Kenya

This is the most famous high altitude training camp. It is in the home of the fastest middle – long distance runners in the world. Iten is located 2400m above sea level. Iten is a small farming village about 320 kilometres northeast of Nairobi. In the heart of Kenya’s high-altitude, mountainous region of the Rift Valley, its escarpment overlooks the expansive and striking Kerio Valley National Park. At any given time, there are between 600 to 1,000 runners stationed here all trying to boost their red blood cells.

French Pyrenees

This is the high altitude zone that was used by athletes under Coach Alberto Salazar prior to 2012 London games. The results spoke for themselves, Mo Farah won gold and Glen Rupp won silver in the 10,000m.

Training facilities start from Lac de Matemale which is located at an altitude of only 1550 metres, so it is a good place to acclimatize for runners new to the place.

Another location is The national centre for altitude training (track and swimming pool): This facility is located at 1850 metres altitude. Next is Pyrenees 2000 (1700 metres altitude) – this is a forested area located ten minutes drive from Font Romeu on the main road leading to Lac de Matemale.

Next is the the plateau – a plateau at 2100 metres altitude. At this level there are a network of trails that run through scrub and sections of scattered low forest dense.

The highest point is Pico de Aneto at 11,168 ft (3,404 m.).

Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is home to the United States Olympic Training Center. This is the place where athletes go to do their high altitude training.

Colorado Springs climbs to an altitude of 6,035 feet. Manitou Springs, just five miles to the west of Colorado Springs, is 6,320 feet. Further west, the towns of Victor and Cripple Creek are over 9,500 feet. The summit of Pikes Peak towers above them all at 14,115 feet.

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