Are you training for a Marathon? – Consider the High Altitude Training

by TONY OLEJNICKI | Creator of the QLS Program

Why is high altitude so useful and beneficial to the Marathon training and similar endurance compositions? Good Question. What can be good about a harsh environment, where some people experience Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?

The counterintuitive benefit of high altitude is a low partial pressure of oxygen, which forces a physiological adaptation of the cardiovascular system. The low oxygen level in the blood forces the body to produce more red blood cells. This is what most Tour de France cyclists and other high-performance athletes wish for and go to extremes to achieve. Of course, like with any extreme approach to the training and fitness, you need to follow appropriate procedures to get benefits and avoid injuries.

As an exercise physiologist specializing in the high altitude training, I have developed tools and procedures to ensure optimum training conditions. These are implemented in our preparation training for and during the high altitude adventure. The Infinite Mountain Adventure (IMA) Sherpa guides are skilled in delivering a successful climb to the summit. We conduct a very effective and safe training for our guides based on BOALPS (Boeing Alpine Society) and Seattle Mountaineers training approaches.

Athletes and teams, who want to boost their performance, will benefit from our high altitude adventures as a pre-season training or post-season active rest. Although the life of a blood cell lasts only 30 days, even after just a 10-day high-altitude adventure you will find a considerable improvement in your athletic performance. You will notice an improved metabolism and increased energy levels due to the higher red blood cells count, active rest and psychological benefits of a different visually inspiring environment.

The adventure holiday at high altitude is a performance booster for the marathon training. There are three ways you can approach the high altitude by undertaking a high altitude hike, bike ride or climb.

The high altitude trekking is a low-intensity adventure due to its slow pace. It is, however, a nice meditative and relaxing way to see and experience the Himalayas. This is a good option to take after 4 months of an intensive training program and about 6 weeks before your event. Two weeks active break would consolidate your endurance and it would improve your cardiovascular performance due to high altitude. IMA 3 passes Everest trek gives you ample opportunities to challenge your muscular and cardiovascular systems on many 5300-5500m Himalayan passes and hills. After the return, you would have about 4 weeks to finalize and ramp-up your training before the event.

Himalayan mountain bike ride is a very dynamic mid-high intensity adventure. The advantage of a ride over a trek is that it allows you to cover the distance in a more efficient and interesting way. It also offers a better training diversity for the marathon. The bike ride is a perfect solution to see the Himalayas if you are cycling enthusiast and the hike isn’t really your thing. This is a good option to take after about 4 months of an intensive marathon training program and about 6-8 weeks before your event. Similar to the high altitude trekking the bike ride gives you an opportunity of an active rest from training. There are many opportunities during the ride, to challenge your muscular and cardiovascular system with the hike options to the Himalayan passes and hills. It also delivers a better training diversity.

Climbing, of course, is the most intensive approach to high altitude training. Climbing will also give you the highest exercise value and a challenge to the balance and agility. The high altitude climbing is a very accessible pursuit for a fit athlete. There are many high-altitude climbs available, which do not require technical climbing skills or an expensive climbing equipment. The high altitude climbing requires a high level of endurance you just obtained after 4 months of your marathon training. This is a perfect time for the endurance challenge because you are in an optimum physical condition. The right climb executed at a correct pace and acclimatization conditions will boost your metabolism and fitness to achieve better marathon result.

IMA offers Lobuche East 6119m climb for autumn 2017 on 21 OCT Ex Kathmandu.

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, adventurer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training – is the creator of IMA (Infinite Mountain Adventure), an inspirational company helping professional working in an office environment to improve life quality and experience a motivational Himalayan adventure.