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May 29-June 9


Training for Altitude at Sea Level

Training for Altitude at Sea Level

For those who love big mountains, one of the challenges of living in NYC is adequately preparing for high altitude adventures while living at sea level. During OutdoorFest we were lucky to partner with Educated Running's Coach Hammond and Hypoxico Systems for a night on Altitude Training. Part lecture and part simulation with the Hypoxico's altitude simulation systems the lecture included some great insight for anyone training for the high country.

Altitude Training Notes from Coach Hammond

Physiological Changes to Exercising at High Altitudes:

  • Increase in pulmonary ventilation
  • PO2 is lower, so a person has to increase their breathing, in order to get enough oxygen.
  • Increase in cardiac output
  • Caused by an increased heart rate.
  • This increase in blood flow is meant to try to make up for the reduced oxygen in the blood, so active muscles get the oxygen they require.
  • Decrease in stroke volume
  • The amount of blood pumped by the left ventricle in one beat.
  • This decline continues for 1-2 weeks before stabilizing.
  • Decrease in VO2max
  • Exercising at 50% VO2max at sea level will actually be 55%, 60%,65% as your altitude increases.
  • Increase in metabolism
  • Paired with a decrease in appetite.

Acclimating to High Altitude:

  • Cardiac output increases
  • Muscles ability to extract oxygen from blood improves
  • Lactate response to exercises decreases back towards sea level results
  • Red blood cell volume increases
  • Physical Preparation:
  • State the Facts
  • Adapt at an appropriate pace
  • Training at high altitude is not everything

Mental Preparation:

  • All are influenced by higher elevation
  • Those training at higher elevation my not have the advantage

Live High Train Low:

  • VO2max is at its highest at sea level.
  • Can’t train at highest intensity at high elevation.
  • You can simulate altitude
  • Hypobaric tents, rooms, chambers.

By Coach Patrick Hammond of Educated Running:  oach.hammond@educatedrunning.com 


Derby, R., & deWeber, K. (2010). The athlete and high altitude. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 9(2), 79-85.

Gundersen, J. S., & Levine, B. D. (2008). Live high, train low at natural altitude. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 18(1), 21-28. doi: 10.1111/j1600-0838_2008_00829_x

Mazzeo, R. S. (2008). Physiological responses to exercise at altitude. Sports Med, 38(1), 1-8.

Wilmore, J. H., Costill, D. L., & Kenney, W. L. (2008). Physiology of sport exercise (4th ed.) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.







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