If you’re an endurance athlete, you’ve probably thought about altitude. I grew up in Albuquerque, NM and lived in Colorado for my 20s. I never thought about altitude training until I did the highest mountain bike race in the world in 2011. The race was a 10 day race in Nepal called the Yak Attack that topped out at 17,769′. I admit I still wasn’t fully acquainted with the data of training at altitude. I knew how dangerous the symptoms of acute mountain sickness or altitude sickness could be. In fact, it was my primary fear for tackling this race and wanting to be the first woman to ever finish. You can watch my TED Talk about it. I started spending a lot of time in BC in 2013 and eventually moved in 2014. That also meant I moved from living at altitude my entire life to 1,000′ where I still live. Racing in Colorado became a problem- I could only race in third gear. It was frustrating. I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about potentially prepping for altitude and used myself as a guinea pig in some hypoxic experiments. They were only moderately successful. It still didn’t really answer my question, “Can you train for altitude?” If you’re an avid listener of this podcast, then you might have heard my heat training series with Dr. Stephen Cheung in one episode and Luke Way and Stacey Shand in a second follow-up episode. Today, I sat down with Dr. Cheung for a second time. This time, we talked about altitude. Dr. Cheung is not only one of the world’s top authorities on environmental physiology, but he is an avid cyclist himself. If you want to really geek out, get his textbook “Advanced Environmental Physiology.” Dr. Cheung is a professor at Brock University in the Department of Kinesiology. He also is an author of a few other books: Cutting-Edge Cycling, and Cycling Science. If that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he is the Sport Science & Training editor for www.pezcyclingnews.com. In this episode, you’ll learn what happens to your body at altitude, if there is an ideal time to get to an event beforehand, the efficacy of altitude tents, if there is any data behind hypoxic training, and what the best configuration for ideal training is in terms of sleeping high and training low.
Topics Discussed in the Podcast
- what happens to your body at altitude
- variability between individuals
- is there an ideal time to get to an event at altitude beforehand?
- train low, sleep high or train high, sleep high?
- do altitude tents work?
- can you use hypoxic respiratory training for altitude?
- Advanced Environmental Physiology
- Cutting-Edge Cycling
- his book Cycling Science
- Dr. Cheung on Twitter