Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Training at High Altitude

So, a little fun fact about myself (that I shared last week); I live at 7,200 feet altitude. As a reference, that is 2,000 more feet than a mile (or Denver, CO). Until you have been to, or lived at, an extremely high altitude, you would never realize the many things it affects.

For example, babies born here (whose mother lived here throughout her pregnancy, of course) are typically much smaller than average. It is very common for newborns to have jaundice the first week or so. In fact, my OB warned me before hand that Wyatt would probably have jaundice due to the altitude, and to be prepared for it. We require more water consumption than those at lower altitudes. Baking is a PITA. Things never turn out right in the baking department... I'm still frustrated over this. And on and on.

The air is thinner up here due to oxygen being under a lot less pressure than most parts of the country. There are positives along with the negatives though. For one, it's gorgeous. I can be in a campground, secluded in the mountains with all sorts of wildlife, a mere 10 minutes from my home.

Studies have shown that someone living at a high altitude has a 25% increased endurance over someone living around 500 feet. For this reason, Olympic athletes will travel here for training leading up to the big event.

Obviously, I'm acclimated after seven years of living here and rarely have any altitude sickness symptoms. One of the few times it's very apparent to me, is when I travel to my hometown. I can run further, faster and push myself harder at 3500 feet. (It's quite possible that is my favorite part of visiting, maybe.)

On Friday, I am taking an over-night camping trip. This will be my first night away from Wyatt... eeek! We are going to be taking a 3 mile hike up a mountain, to nearly 14,000 feet. With this in mind, I thought I would share some tips on high altitude training. Ya know, in case any of you up and decide to visit this part of the Cowboy State someday.

Just a little incentive

1. Don't push yourself too hard. Your heart has to work much harder in these parts when you aren't used to it and it's crucial, for safety reasons, that you ease in to it. Keep in mind that it can take up to several weeks for your body to adjust.

2. Double your fluids. For the first several days you will be short of breath and light headed, fluids will help. Also, things evaporate more quickly here, including sweat. You may not realize how much fluid you are actually losing during your workout, and may not refuel properly as a result.

3. They say to keep your workouts indoors for the first week or so while you acclimate. The main reason for this is if you've never traveled to high altitudes, you don't know how your body is going to react. It's common for everyone to have some degree of altitude sickness in the very beginning. It's better to be nearby other people in case you have a bad reaction.

4. Don't get discouraged. You can't expect your body to jump right in like it's used to. Slow and steady wins the race. When you return home, you'll be even more amazed at what your body can do!

5. If you do workout outdoors, wear sunscreen! You burn easily here. That is, in the 3-4 months there isn't snow on the ground.

Wish me luck that I survive my hiking trip and don't fall off a cliff, or get eaten by a bear.
Just kidding.
Kind of.


  1. I live in a flat area at 3,256 ft. I recently went to a neighboring state and traveled to the mountains. I was pushing my daughter in her stroller up and down hills. MY GOODNESS!!! I was crazy out of breath and feeling the burn in my legs.haha
    I can see why athletes would train in high elevations. I can do the same type of exercise where I live and it not be as tiring.

  2. Wyoming looks beautiful. I have never been; I am jealous that you can be at a camp ground in 10 minutes. That has to be fantastic! I hope you are having a great week!


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