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conditioning/altitude

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Postby rlw49 » Thu Apr 19, 2007 4:49 pm

A lot of world class athletes do come from high altitude areas. We had an influx of marathoners from Mexico City to Boulder in the 70's and 80's. The Kenyan runners have been mentioned, and you have the Columbian bike riders in bicycle tours. Altitude training is one method of increasing endurance, but there are too many other factors to consider. I haven't heard of any Sherpa marathoners. Just because you train at altitude, doesn't mean you won't "bonk" when running at sea level with temp and humidity in the 90's. Fortunately, hiking 14ers isn't a competitive endeavor. Unless like TalusMonkey says, you and a friend are running from a bear.

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Postby tshesky » Thu Apr 19, 2007 5:55 pm

thebeave7 wrote:PS I used to live in California(sea level, literally) and through training had no problems going from 0->14K in 2days. But that also comes down to physiology. Some people can adapt much more quickly to oxygen deprivation, while others have more issues. Example Ed Viesturs O2 consumption/efficiency is off the chart(can't remember the acutal numbers) and no matter how much I train and live at altitude I will never be able to process O2 like that.


I actually heard something similar about Lance Armstrong. I had the chance to speak to his trainer (Chris Carmichael) once and he said that oxygen saturation in Lance's blood remains almost unchanged whether he's at sea level or at a higher elevation. (My intention in this post isn't to bring up any potential discussion about doping, either...)
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

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Postby amsinger » Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:55 am

I am a flatlander, St. Louis elevation is about 300ft, and a beginner 14er climber. I have backpacked all my life, but due to my location, i can only get into the mountains once or twice a year. No matter how hard I train and how good condition I am in, once i hit 12,500 i am reduced to a snails pace. Unfortunately, i am limited to long weekends in Colorado, so can only acclimize for a day. i may be slow going, but make it up with pure determination and stubborness. :wink:
Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better--Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Postby alanb » Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:16 am

As with any activity the best conditioning is actually doing it. My hiking buddy kicks my butt on ever single 14er we do, he lives at a lower elevation than I do, but he hikes like a mad man so he is conditioned for that specific activity.

I run 4-5 miles 3 days a week and weight train 2 days. I do this to keep my over all fitness level up. I have run a marathon before, and finished with a respectable time, but I also spent 4 months specifically training for it. I play basketball sometimes and even with my weekly routine I find myself out of breath because I don't train for the quick bursts of energy required for that activity.

Baseline fitness level is important and will go a long ways towards ensuring you reach the summit, but if you are hiking with someone who is conditioned for it, most likely you won't be able to match their pace. I don't think it means you are less fit than they are, just that they have conditioned their body better for that specific activity.
"The mountains are calling, therefore I must go."
tweaked by me but originally John Muir

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Postby ajkagy » Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:58 am

in my opinion, running will only do so much for you.

I used to be able to run a 5 min flat mile when i lived in the flatlands, but hiking with a pack, uphill, then add altitude as a factor, I became super slow. I just think hiking is just a totally different exercise than running thus it requires a different training method. Like talus said, he can't run anymore than 2-3 miles but yet he can hike like a madman. That's why I believe that being able to run a marathon or whatever doesn't immediatly make you a fast hiker.

I do think genetics and the ability to tolerate altitude are also factors too.

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Postby Brian Kalet » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:12 am

ajkagy wrote:
USAKeller wrote:Now, if you go back to lower elevations (the flatlands), it takes about 3 days for you to lose these precious red blood cells! It sucks on that end of the deal!


maybe you are mistaken but actually if you go to sea level your hemoglobin levels will stay about the same for 3 weeks then drop off from there. :)

3 days would suck!


Four independent studies show that red blood cell count is significantly lower at 3-17 days after return to sea level (Ann Intern Med. 2001;134:652, J Appl Physiol. 1956;9:141, Blood. 1950;5:1, Trans Roy Soc. 1923;211:351).

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Postby thebeave7 » Fri Apr 27, 2007 3:07 pm

ajkagy wrote:in my opinion, running will only do so much for you.


This comes back to my point from earlier. It isn't that running doesn't help you hike better, but that people go about training that is not as applicable to hiking. Pick a nice long mellow grade of 1000ft elev or more, and slowly jog/walk up it. Spend 1-2h maybe 3 times a week doing this and it'll really help your hiking up hill ability. Granted if you can get out for a 5-6h hike more than once a week you'll be even better off, but few have that midweek time.

Another piece of anecdotal evidence from my training. Last year when training for ultras I did a lot of flat fast paced 1-1.5h runs, turns out I was in good shape for half marathons, but only OK ultra shape. This season I've slowed the pace down, but lengthened training runs to 2h+ and I've been feeling a lot stronger during longer races/runs. Train more like you want to perform.

Eric

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training is overrated

Postby skyerunner » Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:39 pm

My favourite way to train is to get out there and do it!
Last summer I spent 4 months in Juneau alaska at a maximum of 80 feet above sea level. I flew from Juneau to Denver and did the Pikes Peak Ascent the next day. Great fun!
Pain is overrated, just keep going.

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Postby rob runkle » Tue May 01, 2007 8:08 am

Cardio fitness definitely helps. Simlar to skyerunner and rider, I come from Ohio at a whopping 750 ft. I fly out, and I'm at 14,000 ft within 12 hours, including the PPA, PPM and double.

I'm a marathon runner, with 33 races under my belt in the last 6 years. So, I'm pretty much always in pretty decent cardio shape. This helps me a lot. On day 1 in Colorado, I'm usually struggling a little bit. The lungs and legs are slowing me down a little. And, maybe a mild headache. By day 2, the headaches are gone, the lungs and legs are feeling better. At this point, my feet are starting to hurt. <grin> By day 3, no headaches, or any AMS. The lungs and legs are almost as good as they are going to be for the trip. The feet are sore, beat up, and maybe some blisters. After 4 or 5 days, trip is complete, and I'm heading back to Ohio. I never take a break from 14ers during the trip. This has worked for me, getting me to 31 unique 14ers.

Having said that... That is ME. I've also hiked with:
A guy that smokes cigarettes, and "smokes" me on the trail.
A guy who is not a marathoner, but bikes, hikes and cross trains - who wastes me at the PPA/PPM every year.
A girl similar to the above guy.
Another guy who has never done a marathon, and even felt guilty saying that he'd done one after running the PPM. Running I win, hiking, he powers past me.
My regular partner is also a marathoner from Ohio. On day 1, I'm ahead of him by a mile or more. By day 3, he is taking the lead.

So, everybody is different. Major factors are: Fitness and health, genetics, fluid and calories and the intelligence to keep them up. My fitness and health comes from running. There is no doubt in my mind, that better fitness training for 14ers is hiking 14ers.

Just MHO, Rob

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