Elevation training

2rocky

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What frequency of training at a higher altitude will result in a measureable improvement in performance at High country hunting altitudes?

Here is what I am thinking...I live at Sea Level and I am a 4-5 hour drive from the Sierra Nevada mountains with good trails at 7000-9000 feet elevation. How often do I need to do aerobic conditioning at that elevation to be ready for a summer trail race in Montana, as well as Bowhunting in Western Wyoming and Colorado for Mule Deer.

Question one:
So how often (at minimum)do I do my weekend long trail runs at high elevation?
Every Week?
Every other Week?
Every 3rd week?
The last 3 weeks of training?, last 6?

Question 2:
How high is high enough to benefit me at 10,000 to 11,000 ft hunting elevation?
4000?
5000?
7000?
9000?
 

broncoformudv

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Anchorage, Alaska
The last 6 weeks will more than likely help you the most for your run and for hunting. I would also say that anything over 5,000 ft ASL will get you in that range but obviously the closer you are to training at the elevation you will be running your race in will better prepare you to an extent.

You are trying to get your body to produce more red blood cells so that your blood can carry a higher concentration of oxygen. This takes time and is one of the reasons mountain climbers stay for weeks at base camp getting acclimatized and people that live at elevation all year long have an advantage over us that live at sea level.
 
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2rocky

2rocky

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Bronc,

Thanks for the reply. The literature doesn't address the "Weekend Elevation model" but tends to focus on Live high, train high, versus live high, train low.

One thing the literature DOES say is that performance will be compromised vs lower elevation. So in a training cycle where I might have a light week every 3rd week, I might get the altitude benefit while training at a lower intensity. IE. doing a 10mile and 8 mile hike Sat/Sun at altitude instead of doing a 10 mile 8 mile run at sea level. I'll still be breathing hard, and I'll sleep for 2 or 3 nights at elevation. Apparently the sleeping part of hypoxia is key.

I wonder if I could talk my doctor into taking blood samples during this and track RBC count?

Either way, I am going to have to increase my performance down low to be near my potential at elevation. Looks like 10% for the elevations I'm looking at.

I'm reading This chapter in Exercise Physiology and it sure is interesting....
 

Eagle

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All I know is that I think acclimation is key, whether it be heat, elevation, humidity, whatever. I lived and ran 4+ miles a day while in Yellowstone (8-10 miles occasionally) for an entire summer at roughly 7000' (8 miles in less than an hour on some rough trails). When I got home to KY at the end of the summer and went out for a 10 mile run in the August heat and humidity, I struggled.

This past week in CO, it took 2 days for me to acclimate and feel ok. The first two days were awful, but by the third day, it was like I was back at sea level, and this was at between 10-12.5k the entire time. If you can get to your race location a couple days in advance, three if possible, I think you'll be ok.
 

trevore

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Feb 24, 2012
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San Antonio, TX
Maybe couple of the pros on here can offer up some more info? Good question.

I'm curious though. If you're only spending 2 days a week at altitude, wouldn't the body "re-adapt" to sea level during the week? It seems as soon as the body is triggered to produce RBC you're back at sea level and then the trigger would get turned off? But if your body is actually increasing production during the 2 days a week at altitude I think the highest possible frequency would be best.

Just curious if a running program focused on maximizing your VO2 max would be just as beneficial?
 

broncoformudv

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I wish I had more experience on this subject but most of mine is from reading about mountain climbing and first hand experience in Afghanistan.

1. The more time you spend at altitude the better to get properly acclimatized.
2. Once you come down your body starts to go back to normal but there is more oxygen so your muscles recover faster which is why some climbers will start making treks up the mountain to get acclimatized then come back down and stay for a few days before making a summit push.
3. The better condition your body is in to start with the better it will be able to compensate for the lack of oxygen

If you want to look up some more interesting info on how to cheat acclimatizing look into blood doping. :) Some of our more enthusiastic medical providers over here keep threatening to do it since they are living at 5,000 feet but occasionally go up to 8,000-10,000 feet on missions. Then again they could just move to a location that is at a higher elevation and it would all be a mute point.
 

Lukem

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Nebraska
My simple answer to your 2 questions are 1) as often as you can 2) as high as you can. Each will benefit you no matter what you do, but the more you do and the higher you go, the more effect you'll get. I don't think there's any magic formula.
 
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2rocky

2rocky

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There is a 165 mile loop trail that is conveniently in 9 sections between trailheads. All the elevations are over 7000 with a couple of peaks over 10,000. If I could find someone else to park at the next trailhead we could hike towards each other and swap cars and get a 20 miler in each weekend for 9 weeks.

I gotta work on this to see if I could put together a group to do this next June. Problem is it is 4-5 hours away.
 

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