Change in altitude | 80/20 Endurance

Change in altitude

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  • #8192
    gaeasun
    Participant

    I just moved from sea level to close to 6,000 feet. Not only is there a change in altitude, but also about 20-25 degrees heat increase with a humidity decrease of of about 40. I am following the Ironman 70.3 Level 3 plan, with heart rate for bike and pace for the run. I have been here 1 week. As I acclimate to the dry/heat/altitude, I am dying in my workouts, especially the toward the end. My heart rate is high, and my pace is slow, and my endurance disappeared. I also am swimming for the first time in 4 months, so I am moving more overall.

    The question is, do I go shorter, slower, both, or something else as I acclimate to my new environment. The race, if it happens, is 9 weeks away.

    Thanks for any insight!
    Kim

    #8199
    David Warden
    Keymaster

    Kim,

    Best of luck in your new environment!

    Thresholds are often not only specific to the individual, they are individual to the environment. This is most often noticed when switching between indoor and outdoor training, where HR is often 5-10 beats lower and even power is 5-10 watts lower. For this reason, I have my athletes use separate indoor and outdoor zones, and even test indoor and outdoor separately when they will be indoors for months at a time.

    Your environment is a similar extreme change. You just will not be as fast for a given output when the temperature is 20+ degrees and 6,000 feet in altitude change. Essentially, your sea-level zones are now invalid. You’ll have to go by feel until you can perform your next threshold test, and that first test at altitude is likely to be a disaster. It will take you a few weeks to acclimate, and 1-2 testing cycles to really get your new zones dialed in.

    When you do, expect them to be much lower, but don’t despair! Multiple research has shown that living high/training high provides the same performance benefit as living low/training low. You’re giving up oxygen that allows for higher intensities in exchange for an increase in red blood cells. When you return to sea level, your fitness will be the same as if you had never left even as your high altitude training appears to be pedestrian.

    David

    #8200
    gaeasun
    Participant

    Thank you, David! I appreciate the response. It all makes sense.

    Kim

    #10816
    tedc
    Participant

    A related question to this one… I will be going from sea level to 9,500 feet for 1 week (week 13 of Half Iron Level 2 – a recovery week) and want to get a sense of what type of change I should plan for in my training zones (power for running and cycling). For such a short period of time, is there any guidance I can use rather than testing for new zones at this altitude (which doesn’t make sense because I’m not there long enough to test and then use the zones, and my altitude acclimation will improve throughout my stay.) Also, should I modify my training plan or just reduce the watts and pace?

    #10831
    David Warden
    Keymaster

    Ted, that’s a dramatic change and I regret I don’t have the expertise to accurately predict the impact. Surely, you will have to slow down. I recommend just going off of RPE for the week.

    Jack Daniels has a pace calculator that includes altitude adjustment, but I can’t get it to work, Maybe you can: https://runsmartproject.com/calculator/

    David

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