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10 ideas for coaching at altitude

Matt Lengthy provides 10 guiding ideas for these of you heading to altitude this Spring.

A latest England Athletics Marathon camp in Birmingham concerned some athletes who have been aiming for Commonwealth Video games qualifying requirements as a precursor to the trials race in Manchester on April third.

Becoming a member of me on a Q&A panel to debate altitude coaching have been Head of Athletics at Birmingham College – Luke Gunn; Liverpool based mostly physiologist Jamie Pugh; Group England Medical Lead, Sarah Connors; England Athletics Marathon Lead, Tom Craggs and England Group Coach, Allison Benton.

A large ranging dialogue occurred over an hour the place some key themes emerged which I’ve summarised as 10 key ideas.

1. Take into account the choices

Earlier than you spend cash think about why you’re travelling to altitude and what you hope to realize from it. If for instance you’re going to altitude shortly earlier than a Spring marathon for instance, you might wish to spend extra time coaching at race tempo particularly.

Sure camps are so excessive that this can be physiologically very difficult – so choose your location properly and take into consideration timing. Some coaching places, for instance in Ethiopia, have altitudes in extra of 2600m in comparison with for instance St Moritz or Font Romeu each sitting round 1800m.

Physiologist Jamie Pugh outlined the important thing physiological modifications which occur at altitude together with diminished blood oxygen leading to increased respiratory/air flow and coronary heart price and a drop in blood plasma. These physiological modifications (amongst others) create elevated EPO manufacturing and over time a rise within the quantity of purple blood cells and Hb mass.

2. Heat climate coaching

Considering the above, you might really feel {that a} heat climate camp is a greater manner of getting the most effective out of your self. Tom Craggs impressed that warmth alone slightly than altitude may assist foster helpful physiological diversifications reminiscent of elevated blood plasma quantity, haemoglobin mass and enhancements in your skill to run and races in heat circumstances. He additionally harassed among the advantages of altitude coaching the place nothing to do with the altitude.

Craggs states that the bodily advantages of a break from work or examine permitting extra downtime between coaching and the psychosocial advantages of spending time with good coaching companions and mates typically in lovely environments might be highly effective and should not depending on altitude. The panel additionally mentioned among the dangers of altitude coaching together with the necessity for an extended adaptation interval that is perhaps required in heat climate coaching and the chance of illness ensuing kind altitude publicity.

Pugh recommended that indoor coaching utilizing synthetic warmth may assist one to acclimatise to heat climate camps earlier than departure and preserve diversifications after prematurely of probably sizzling races.

Heat climate coaching in Portugal. Picture: Tom Craggs

3. Pre-Camp Preparation

Allison Benton cautioned that, “You might want to guarantee that you’re wholesome earlier than travelling to altitude, in any other case you’re heading for difficulities as an athlete”.

The Brighton based mostly coach indicated checking a variety of markers on a blood take a look at, for instance ferritin (the protein complicated that serves as a significant iron storage system) may offer you a sign of how prepared your to coach at altitude. Jamie Pugh concurring that purple blood cell rely was necessary and that self-monitoring round two weeks previous to journey was paramount.

4. Acclimatisation

Three time Commonwealth steeplechaser Luke Gunn harassed that the primary 2-3 days of camp ought to consist of sunshine cardio operating, with the primary ‘session’ happening on Day 4 or 5 and this nonetheless being at an depth beneath tempo. Pugh maintained that athletes ought to be conscious that it may possibly take 3 weeks or extra for some athletes to realize the physiological good thing about altitude coaching.

That mentioned the panel concurred that among the different advantages, for instance coaching on completely different surfaces typically in an attractive setting, ought to be thought-about alongside the impression of a low oxygen setting and that these advantages might be felt over a lot shorter intervals.

5. Progressive overload

Physiotherapist Sarah Connors warned concerning the subcultural risks of athletes eager to rightly get the advantage of group coaching however being pulled alongside unwittingly on the tempo of the quickest runner within the squad, stressing that straightforward periods and days should be mild and cardio.

Gunn was eager to stress that one of many key advantages of altitude coaching was with the ability to get a coaching impact with out having to run too quick and with out over stressing the neuromusculoskeletal system unduly. The 4 time nationwide steeplechase champion asserted that, “Altitude is a device and the most important device now we have as athletes is restoration, so don’t compromise it”.

Craggs went additional to say that it’s tempting for athletes on coaching camps, whether or not altitude or in any other case, to coach so much more durable and add much more periods than they might normally do and this will pose dangers. A number of the essential advantages of a coaching camp are gained from the additional restoration and adaptation exterior of the operating itself away from work and different limiting life stresses.

Picture: Women Gotta Run Basis in Ethiopia

6. Monitoring

Connors selected to emphasis the truth that one must, “perceive the parameters of your individual physique” pointing particularly to thoracic mobility and hip extension as being widespread drawback areas for athletes on camp.

Connors recommended a variety of self monitoring instruments such because the knee to wall take a look at, single leg knee bends and single leg glute bridges in addition to self scored questionnaires measuring athletes notion of their restoration. Tom Craggs maintained that athletes require a superb deal with prime quality diet with Pugh reminding attendees that the change in oxygen uptake can have an effect on the standard of athletes sleep.

With particular regard to his expertise of a number of visits to Font Romeu, Gunn recounted how all the above have been a necessity as a result of observe surfaces might be extraordinarily onerous and mountain trails could cause on to simply roll ankles as he had.

7. Energy and conditioning

Gunn harassed that foot drills ought to be habituated. “Get your sneakers off and work these intrinsic muscular tissues within the foot so your ankles are strong”. While after all that is all the time necessary runners could discover it notably necessary given many altitude coaching places may even contain much more path runs and uneven surfaces and UK based mostly athletes might be used to. Connors provided the affirmation that this work was invaluable and might be progressed with the help of a Bosu ball.

8. Run to Really feel

Allison Benton nonetheless works athletes in response to splits however makes use of a tried and examined system to calculate the slowing per mile/ km relying on the peak of the coaching camp. This being mentioned think about the place operating to really feel or perceived effort could also be simply as applicable for you and different quantitative measures reminiscent of coronary heart price, slightly than Strava knowledge. RPE based mostly session prescription generally is a wise strategy for coaches within the early days away at altitude intently monitoring depth throughout and after runs.

9. Mode of restoration inside periods

From an experiential perspective as a former elite athlete Gunn recounted how, “you may really feel like you’re dying after the primary rep at altitude! So roll on or float recoveries could merely not be potential.

After I’ve been at camp within the first week or so repetition periods which ordinarily have one minute passive recoveries might have two for high quality to be maintained. This being mentioned after a few weeks the plan ought to be to cut back restoration timings to that which might be regular at sea degree”.

10. The Window for Efficiency

Benton referred to a ‘candy spot’ of between 2-4 weeks for peak performances to happens between 2-4 weeks. Gunn equally recognized a window of 21-28 days.

In tempting to elucidate why some athletes could expertise a dip in efficiency within the instant return dwelling from camp, he identified that he had noticed athletes feeling fitter again at sea degree and due to this fact overtraining would inevitably end in tiredness.

Shrewdly, he reminded attendees, “You must prohibit your coaching once you arrive at altitude and you need to be ready to limit it once you return dwelling”.

Craggs concurred that it could take time for the legs to re-adjust to eager to run quicker at sea degree and recommended utilizing drills,  a-lactic hills and strides might be productive when it comes to bridging this transition.

The above leaves you with some questions for self-reflection

1. In what methods could an altitude camp be helpful in comparison with a heat climate camp or vice versa for my particular person wants?
2. What do I would like from altitude coaching and which camp would greatest assist me obtain these targets?
3. How am I going to watch my well being and health previous to camp?
4. In what methods do I plan to watch my well being and health throughout camp itself?
5. Why do I have to plan my coaching and racing technique on return to sea degree manner earlier than I am going to an altitude camp?

Matt Lengthy served as an England Group Coach on the latest England Athletics Marathon Camp in Birmingham. Matt welcomes contact for teaching help at mattlongcoach@gmail.com

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