FAQ on Altitude Training


1: The benefits of altitude training include increased red blood cell volume, increased efficiency, and, indirectly, more stamina on your runs. However, long periods of time at altitude may affect your speed. This is why many researchers are calling for a live-high, train-low approach. Or, you can do shorter training stints at altitude for the base phase of your training and then return back to lower elevations to develop your speed.

2:  Toughness, change of pace and change of surface are all benefits that I also believe happen during your stay at Camp Elevation. 


Runners are usually not running so quickly up a mountain that this is the cause of any issues. But some runners will notice a change in their running when reaching the “Mile High” city of Denver and a greater decrease in performance as they move farther in to the mountains or any location over 6,000 feet.

6,000 ft: 17% less oxygen than at sea level
8,000 ft: 25% less oxygen than at sea level
14,000 ft: about 40% less oxygen than at sea level

Luckily our bodies are miraculous machines that begin adapting to our surroundings without us needing to think about it.

1.      You start to breathe faster to initially increase your oxygen levels.

2.      You urinate more frequently as your kidneys try to keep the body balanced

3.      Your body increases red cells in your blood to better carry more oxygen

4.      Heart rate and blood pressure increase in an attempt to push more oxygen

5.      Blood thickens also making your heart work harder

As you continue to increase altitude, the body also begins to battle the decreased outside air pressure, which adds to the feeling that it’s hard to breathe and you feel more fatigued than normal on your run.

How might you feel?
Your body doing all of this work is part of what causes many people to feel less than fantastic when they first get to altitude…also known as altitude sickness, but for many it’s actually just dehydration!

·        Headache

·        Harder to breathe

·        Nausea





1: Drink plenty of fluids. At altitude, you may not sweat as much or not think you are sweating, but you are losing a lot of fluids. It is very important to stay adequately hydrated.  I would begin hydrate a couple days before you leave, especially if you are flying that will just add to the dehydration.  Some people suggest doubling the amount of water intake when you are at altitude. 


2:  Drinking has a much greater effect on you at altitude and the higher you go the more you need to be careful.   It is important to alternate water and your drink of choice.


3:  Slow down, over 7,000 feet you can expect an easy run to be up to 30 seconds slower per mile to achieve the same easy level of effort.  We will be running at 7900 to 9000 feet so slow down and don’t pay attention to your Garmin pace, just run by effort. 


4:  Maintaining your iron levels before you arrive are important.  Your body needs more iron as it creates more red blood cells, so be sure to eat iron-rich foods, like red meat and greens, along with Vitamin C which helps with absorption.

5:  Increase carbohydrate intake to 70% of total calories if you’re doing a longer training run. This is because carbohydrates require less oxygen for the body to process and when you first arrive at higher altitude your body will use

6: Consider walk breaks during your runs and be proud of it: Even if they are not part of your normal routine, a few pauses throughout the run may allow you to



1: One worry is to keep an eye out for Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS. Signs of this resemble a hangover, flu symptoms, or a general malaise feeling. Also, you want to look out for someone with fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness.

If not treated, this can turn into pulmonary edema or even cerebral edema (swelling in the lungs or brain). Treatment for pulmonary and cerebral edema include descending immediately and even administering oxygen to the person.

2:  I don’t handle altitude very well I always bring along some ibrufen and take a couple with me as I feel the headache coming on.  It usually stems the headache and just makes me feel better. 


3:  Sleep is also important but those of us that suffer from issues with altitude will probably find it hard to sleep either the first or the 2nd night at camp.  Be prepare with something to read, to pass the night away.  As long as you stay in bed and keep those feet up and relax as much as you can you won’t be too exhausted in the morning. 


4:  Keep us posted about how you are feeling if you feel the effects of the altitude.  Camp elevation is at 8200 feet above sea level. 


The first few times you run at high altitude may be dispiriting. But remember: High-altitude athletes aren’t born, they’re made. If you follow the strategies outlined above and allow your body to transition at its own pace, you’ll be a VO2-maxed, red-blood-cell-fueled super runner soon enough.