Resources

The following articles provide more information for those planning an altitude training trip.  As well as practical advice, athletes share their altitude training experiences.

Factsheets

Altitude Training Factsheet

This factsheet gives advice on the training at altitude, and gives useful tips to help you stay fit and healthy at altitude.

Planning your Altitude Training Trip Factsheet

This factsheet lists some of the essential things to pack, some of the most popular places to do altitude training, and what things you should consider when choosing a destination.

Racing at Altitude Factsheet

Racing at altitude is very difficult!  This factsheet aims to highlight some of the difficulties, and give you some pointers to help you enjoy the experience.

Jetlag and Travel Fatigue Factsheet

Travelling long distances may result in fatigue and symptoms which are detrimental to performance.  Travelling across multiple time zones (e.g. to Mexico, the US or Australia), will also result in some degree of jetlag.  Measures can be taken to reduce these symptoms.  For more information, read the above factsheet.

Haemoglobin, Iron and Anaemia Factsheet

Reminder: Get your iron and haemoglobin levels check regularly, particularly before and after periods of altitude training.

General Travel Advice Factsheet
General Travel Worksheet

Travelling makes up a very large part of an athlete's life.  It doesn't have to be a stressful waste of time that impedes performance though.  The above advice sheet and worksheet can be used to help plan your trips, and make them as productive and hassle-free as possible.

Travel Nutrition Factsheet

The key to performing and training well, is eating well.  Good nutrition is even more important when you travel.  The above factsheet points out some of the things to look out for, and give some guidelines to keep you healthy, nurished and performing at your best. 

Recent external resources and articles of interest

Article by me published in Athletics Weekly, 18th Oct available online.  Alternatively the magazine with the print edition of the article (with all the pretty pictures) can be purchased online at: www.AthleticsWeekly.com

Altitude training and team sports - Special supplement of the British Journal of Sport and Exercise Science.

Running with the Kenyans - Adharanand Finn's Guardian blogs from his travels to the town of Iten on a six-month mission to discover the secrets of Kenya 's elite runners.

When should athletes compete after returning to sea level - Article from sciencedaily

Altitude training: Challenging conventional wisdom - BBC article, including video footage from Iten, Kenya, by US Olympic team physiologist Randall L Wilber

Telegraph article on Paula Radcliffe training in Albuquerque and dreaming of Olympic Gold

Find your altitude - Version of Google maps which allows you to find out the altitude of each point on the earth.

James Wilkinson's Altitude Experiences, Apr 2011

Final Year University of Birmingham Student and GB International James Wilkinson (pictured below, left, with University of Birmingham and GB teammate, Nick Goolab) is keen to build on the European medal successes that he has had as a junior, and already includes altitude training stints into his annual training plan.  As James explains, there is not only physiological benefits to altitude training; planned periods of training in inspiring environments away from the routine can work wonders for motivation and focus.  

In 2009 James won an unexpected silver medal in the 3,000m steeplechase at the European Junior T&F Championships in Novi Sad, and followed it up with an individual bronze and team gold in the Junior race at the European Junior Cross Country later that year.  His greatest achievement to date, however, is no doubt his 6th place finish in the Senior Race at the UK Intercounty Championships in 2010, and his subsequent selection to represent GB&NI in the Senior race at the World Cross Country Championships while still a teenager.  As James's list of honors continues to grow, altitude training will continue to play an important role in his training, as he now explains:

'At the end of this summer, I will graduate from the University of Birmingham after three years of studying Sport and Exercise Science. My immediate plan for the next year is to train full time whilst spending extended periods of time at altitude throughout the year, made more possible through the UKA altitude initiative. Training at altitude has known physiological benefits which are hugely important for endurance runners. Aside from the physiological advantages, there are also, the often over-looked, psychological rewards. Training at altitude enables athletes to focus 100% on their sport without the distractions of home life. An improved focus combined with the physiological boost is the main motivation behind my plan for next year. 

Previously I have trained at altitude on three occasions. These trips were to Font Romeu in France, St Moritz in Switzerland and Iten in Kenya. Both the Kenya and the France trip were with UKA. I often get asked which place I prefer, I really can’t decide between them. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the trips. Hopefully I can give you an insight into what each of these venues has to offer.

St Moritz and Font Romeu are very similar in that they are both ski towns at a similar altitude (Approx 1800m). One huge benefit of these places is that they are located in Europe. This makes them much easier for travel both logistically and financially.  Kenya is very different to these towns. The climate, altitude (2400m), and the way of life are all very unlike France and Switzerland.

St Moritz was my first altitude training trip. I went in September 2009 with two club mates (Joe and Nick). Altitude training was very new to us and we loved every bit of the trip. We stayed there for 3 weeks in total and came back a lot fitter than before the trip. The difference with St Moritz was the variety of running. Straight from the apartment there was a track, numerous lakes and many forest paths to explore. After experiencing two other altitude trips this significantly sets St Moritz apart from other places. 

In September 2010 I went to Font Romeu with a small group of British athletes as part of a UKA altitude setup. Font Romeu is located at an altitude of approx 1900m, a very similar height to St Moritz (1800m). One major difference in Font Romeu and St Moritz was the price. Font Romeu is considerably cheaper than St Moritz; however it is not lacking anything. Font Romeu is very similar in price to many other holiday destinations; where as St Moritz is more expensive due to its reputation.  Also, as mentioned earlier the variety of running is better in St Moritz. This variety is available in Font Romeu, however a car is needed.  Both St Moritz and Font Romeu are brilliant venues to train in. The facilities are brilliant and the atmosphere of these towns is great. Very traditional and friendly.

My most recent altitude trip was to Iten in Kenya. Iten is located at an altitude of 2400m; it is classed as the running Mecca of the world. The sheer number of runners out in Iten was amazing. One early morning run with a Kenyan group saw over 100 athletes running together! The facilities are basic but as a trip to the track will show, you don’t need world class facilities to be a world class runner.  Kenya was a brilliant experience and if you can afford it, I would definitely recommend a trip here. It really is an experience!

In conclusion, I really can’t decide which altitude venue I prefer. I loved every one of the trips and I would jump at the chance to return to any. I wholeheartedly recommend all venues and I hope to return to all 3 in the near future.'

James Wilkinson.

Thanks James for your insight.  I think it's fair to say that James's advise is that if you have the opportunity to travel to any of the wonderful altitude training venues available, you'd be well advised to take up that opportunity, no matter where it is.

 

Sarah Waldron's Albuquerque Experiences, Dec 2010

First up, Sarah Waldron, University of Birmingham Graduate, and University of New Mexico Student, shares her thoughts on adapting to life at altitude in Albuquerque.  Sarah missed out on 3 consecutive European Cross Country Championships between 2006 and 2008, by the narrowest of margins, but after spending just a few months at her new training venue in New Mexico, Sarah not only made the GB&NI team, but earned a well deserved, and long-overdue, team gold with the British U23 quartet.

'In August 2010 I accepted a full athletics scholarship to the University of New Mexico (UNM). It was an opportunity which I had been offered for a number of years, but one which I had never been ready to take. In the end, the decision to go out was still a last minute one (end of May) - but I am pleased to say that I have absolutely no regrets. I feel as though I have benefited hugely from it and hope I continue to do so.

Something which really attracted me to UNM, rather than other American Universities, is that it is situated at high altitude in Albuquerque (ABQ). I was slightly apprehensive at first as I knew that there was potential for me to get sick as my body tried to adapt to the altitude. I had been to altitude once before (Potchefstroom, South Africa) and had stomach trouble. I knew that my body would also need to get use to the hotter climate. When I got out there, the coach told me that we needed to ease into training. I love doing hard runs, so I found it really difficult to restrict myself – but now I am very glad I did. So many people don’t – and then they regret it. After I had settled into a routine of training I started to push on – but one vital thing that I have now learned is that you need more recovery at altitude. Also, you need to eat more as there is more stress placed on your body. Iron levels can have a huge impact on performance and my dosing has doubled from the quantity I was taking in the UK.

There is never a cloud in the sky in ABQ – you will always see the sun. It’s usually a lot warmer in the afternoon than the morning when it can be a bit nippy, and it gets very cold at night. The terrain is good – fairly forgiving but I do wish there was more grass. Without a car I am unable to get to much green grass, and even with one I would somewhat struggle to find any large amount. They just don’t have the parks that we have in England!

However, for a Sunday run we have the beautiful foothills, which are great for training at altitude…mind you, you have to be careful not to get lost!  There’s so many paths you can take – you can never get bored!  Something I also love about training in ABQ is the facility to do tempos – long and hard - which are so important for fitness. There’s a straight path which is ideal so that you can monitor your mile times to make sure that you are working at the correct intensity and monitor progress.  If you have a car you can also go to places like Sante Fe which is even higher than ABQ.

Most Americans are very friendly and so ABQ has a great atmosphere. It attracts all kinds of athletes.  At Academy (which I would need a car to get to – nice trails) and the foothills in particular, I see joggers out quite frequently, and also elite runners from all over the World including Japanese and Kenyan marathon runners.'

Sarah Waldron

Thanks to Sarah for taking time out of her busy training schedule to share her experience and advice.

If you have been to altitude, have a favorite venue, or can offer advice to athletes, and would like to write a short piece for this website, please  contact info@altitudetrainingcamps.com.   

Copyright © 2011-2016 Elizabeth Egan