Altitude Training (& Racing)

Alan Couzens, M.Sc. (Sports Science), Gordo Byrn, Justin Daerr

Aug 1, 2017

I've received quite a few questions of late from athletes who are curious about implementing altitude training in their preparation. Perhaps inspired by tweets like the following..:-)

The fact is that elite athletes across the gamut of endurance sports have been using altitude blocks in their preparation for many years. I was first exposed to this in practice when working with the Australian National Swim team in their prep for the 1994 Commonwealth Games where the new National Head Coach, Gennadi Touretski relied heavily on multiple altitude camps in the teams' prep for both the games and the following World Championships. The team had some very successful meets that year coming off of those camps. Far more successful than their showing at this year's Worlds. Hmmm..

Since that time, & since moving to Colorado, I have (unsurprisingly) seen similar altitude training blocks incorporated in the training of local elite cyclists and triathletes. From both the athletes residing at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and from the local Boulder pro's. And for good reason! While altitude camps can be logistically challenging to pull off, when done correctly, the benefits of the camp are measurable and undeniable &, as the guys point out below - let's face it, there are worse places than some of the high altitude locales in the U.S. and around the world to hang out for 3 weeks or so!

I have used altitude preparation a good amount in the successful preparation of some of the athletes that I have worked with over the past decade or so in various iterations - team camps, organized events like 'Ride the Rockies' &, perhaps my favorite application of altitude training to a successful prep - Mike Coughlin's solo hermit camp in a hut at the top of Mt Lemmon in preparation for his Ultraman build! :-)

Point being that getting away for an altitude camp in the mountains can be both physiologically incredibly beneficial and a lot of fun!

With the above in mind, I wanted to re-post a podcast from a couple of years back that pro triathlete Justin Daerr, former pro Gordo Byrn, & I did on the benefits of altitude training and how it can best be incorporated in an athlete's 'real life' preparation for a key event. Hopefully it will answer some of the questions that you might have on how best to use altitude training in your own preparation for your key event(s) & who knows, maybe I'll run into you on one of the local mountains around Boulder some time soon :-)

Train Smart,



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