Recently 3 of my friends climbed mount Snowdon, this got me thinking how running at altitude effects health and performance.
Running at high altitude involves running at 7,000 feet above sea level or higher. This can improve endurance, help you burn calories faster, help oxygen get around the body, and improve your cardiovascular health. If you are interested in training at high altitude, it is important to start slow, stay hydrated, and listen to your body.
Before we take a look at the benefits, let’s check out the definition of high-altitude training.
What is High Altitude Training?
High altitude training is where you exercise at altitudes above 7,000 feet above sea level. At these altitudes, the air is thinner, which means there is less oxygen available. This can make it more difficult to breathe and put additional stress on the body. However, the body adapts to these conditions improving your performance.
I personally run at sea level or just above like many runners around the world. there are many benefits to training at higher altitudes. Let’s take a look at the benefits of running at high altitude.
Benefits of Running at High Altitude
Some people take part in events where they may be running at altitude such as mountain running. They are likely going to receive benefits from running at high altitude such as:
One of the main benefits of running at high altitude is improved endurance. When you train at high altitude, your body is forced to work harder to get the oxygen it needs and transport it around the body and into your muscles. This causes your heart and lungs to adapt, which can improve your endurance and overall fitness level.
Increased Red Blood Cell Production
Training at high elevation can increase red blood cell production. Your body produces more red blood cells in response to the low oxygen levels at high altitude. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to your muscles, so having more of them can improve your athletic performance.
Burn More Calories
When you exercise at high altitude, your body uses more energy to perform the same amount of work as it would at sea level. This means that you can burn more calories in the same amount of time, which can help you achieve your weight loss goals faster.
Boost Cardiovascular Health
When you run at high altitude, your heart and lungs have to work harder to deliver oxygen to your muscles. This can strengthen your heart and lungs, which lowers your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions. It also increasing the number of capillaries in the muscles which increase your bodies ability to transfer oxygen to the muscles.
How to Run at High Altitude
If you are interested in running at high altitude, it is important to be aware of your bodies signals to stay safe. Let’s take a look at how to begin.
If you are not used to training at high altitude, you should start slow. Give your body time to adjust to the low oxygen levels before pushing yourself too hard. Start with short, easy runs and gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
Staying hydrated is important when running at high altitude. The low humidity and dry air can cause you to lose more water through sweat and breathing. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts to avoid dehydration.
If you feel lightheaded or dizzy during your workouts, it is important to take breaks. Resting for a few minutes can help you catch your breath and prevent altitude sickness.
Consider Altitude Masks
If you cannot reliably go to high altitude locations like myself, altitude masks are designed to simulate the effects of training at high altitude. They restrict airflow, which can make it harder to breathe and force your body to adapt to the low oxygen levels. Before you try out an altitude mask you should check with your doctor beforehand to ensure it is safe for you.
Monitor Your Symptoms
It is important to monitor your symptoms when training at high altitude. Altitude sickness can cause a variety of symptoms, including headache, nausea, and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to rest and get medical attention if needed.
Training at high altitude can provide many benefits for runners, with these tips, you can safely and effectively train at high elevation and take your running to the next level.