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Old 05-05-2008, 07:39 PM   #1
Frank E Morel
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training at altitude.

This is a question for those that train at altitude 5500 plus.

Today, i was at a gym up in tahoe city,ca ...its 6200 ft . I noticed that inbetween sets, i was working hard at just catch my breath and it took awhile for me to recover.

my question, do the mountian people, find it much easier do their wod at sea level and notice a rather shorter recovery time? and note an improved wod times?

I understand that this the principal for high altitude training.
so my question in second part is... how often at altitude training is needed to note the better improvements?
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Old 05-05-2008, 08:20 PM   #2
David Knutzen
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Re: training at altitude.

I live in Colorado, and occasionally travel down to Atlanta, which is about 6000ft to 1000ft elevation change. Honestly, I don't notice much difference in doing CF-style metcon WODs like Fran or Filthy Fifty, but anything long and sustained, such as a 5k run or a longer swim is much easier for the first week or so I'm down.

I'm actually getting ready to head down to Atlanta on Wednesday, so I'll give you a more detailed response once I've done a few workouts down there, if you're interested.
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Old 05-05-2008, 09:10 PM   #3
Elliot Fuller
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Re: training at altitude.

I live in Phoenix (~1,000 ft) and occasionally go on hikes up to 2,600 ft locally.

Last weekend I went north to Flagstaff, AZ, to attempt a summit on Mt. Humphreys at 12,600 ft. The overall change in elevation on Humphreys is about 3,300 ft as compared to a local peak of about 1,600 ft.

I'll just point out the obvious: Humphreys is infinitely harder. The jump in elevation from 1,000 ft here to ~9,000ft (at the trailhead) with minimal time (about 8 hours) to acclimate, is noticeable to say the least.

I didn't notice myself getting out of breath or taking longer to recover from getting out of breath, but I did notice my muscles getting gassed significantly faster than they do at lower elevations.

Once I had gotten "the burn" in my legs, requiring a short break, it would return every 10-15 steps (pretty steep, mind you, in ~3 ft of snow and 30# of gear).

Here when I get "the burn," it takes considerably less time to recover from it, and considerably more time for it to return. Steepness aside, the elevation is no joke, and I can completely understand why Flagstaff is quickly becoming a national hot spot for high-altitude training.

Back at 1,000 feet, the difference is all the more apparent. I was recovering from the climb, but managed a few CFWU rounds that would have laid me to waste at 9,000 feet.

All pretty obvious responses, I guess, but that's my $0.02. Low altitude beats high altitude any day of the week. But excelling at high altitude certainly could give you a leg-up when you drop a few thousand feet.
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Old 05-06-2008, 07:05 PM   #4
Dylan Eddy
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Re: training at altitude.

the major adaptation that happens as a result of altitude living (so far as my limited understanding goes) is an increase in hemoglobin in the bloodstream allowing the blood to carry larger amounts of O2.

so i think the posts above make sense. your anaerobic capacity is not hurt too bad by altitude, although lactate threshold is lower, and the amount of time before you fail as a result of acidosis is less. the amount of time (and O2 ) necessary to recover and flush the byproducts of the effort increases.

the ideal, supposedly, is to live high but train low. getting you the benefits of the adaptations to altitude but still allowing maximum intensity during the oxigen rich workouts.

it does make a big difference in the size of your aerobic gas tank for sure.
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Old 05-06-2008, 07:12 PM   #5
Dylan Eddy
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Re: training at altitude.

also it takes 2-6 weeks to really acclimate but once your there i believe 1 or 2 workouts at altitude a week will maintain it for awhile.

i have found that getting up high a few times a week for a couple weeks before a big climb helps me.
but i think alot of that is in my head....
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Old 05-06-2008, 08:32 PM   #6
Frank E Morel
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Re: training at altitude.

Thanks

I wished that i had found crossfit when i was living full time up at lake tahoe(6200 or in reno (4500 feet) would have been rather interesting to see.

I guess i will have to make do with a couple of workout up there to see.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:20 PM   #7
Steven Low
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Re: training at altitude.

The increase in erythrocytes (red blood cells) occurs within the previously mentioned few weeks and persists for about as much or maybe a little bit more.

Er, yeah, anyway, so this is basically a lesser legal form of what blood doping is.. increasing hematocrit count (erythrocyte ratio of the blood). There's some benefit but not THAT much.
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Old 05-08-2008, 04:57 AM   #8
Tom Brose
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Re: training at altitude.

Altitude definitely can have a nasty effect. Last year we traveled across western China, and spend about 2 weeks at over 2500M, and most of it over 4000M elevation. I tried to keep up with training, mostly with bodyweight stuff. Much more recovery time needed, although I wasn't feeling tired, just couldn't breathe enough. Also rubber legs set in fast. Heres a pick I posted before, doing burpees at a mountain pass at the Sichuan/Qinghai provincial border. The sign shows the elevation of 4,700 Meters.
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:04 AM   #9
Ryan Stitt
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Re: training at altitude.

I also live in Colorado. Having traveled down to the beach in CA, I noticed that I was no longer aerobically limited, but that I then became strength limited in my workouts.

I often wonder how some of the top performers in CF would do at altittude, but the answer is, that they would still be phenomenal.

I think until you really start pushing altitude, that crossfit training will allow a person to perform at a reasonable elevation (<10,000')with very little adjustment. However, once the eleation increases beyond that, I would think that my slight acclimation would be very beneficial. That's all just surmising though.
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Old 05-08-2008, 03:33 PM   #10
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: training at altitude.

Greg Amundsen once came by to visit us at Crossfit Flagstaff. His time on "Karen" went from a pr of ~4 something at sea level to over 6 minutes at 7,000 feet.

It's all about the number of red blood cells and they don't grow overnight.
"[Red blood cells] develop from committed stem cells through reticulocytes to mature erythrocytes in about 7 days and live a total of about 120 days."
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