Flying High With Brianna, Part 2: Altitude Training

A few weekends ago, I competed in the US Track and Field Indoor National Championships. While it did not go as well as I’d hoped, I learned a lot from the experience. Tactically, I was able to put myself in the race, get after it, and leave everything on the track. I felt mentally and physically ready to run a fast race, but in the end, the result was not what I’d hoped for. That being said, the experience at nationals has made me a tougher runner, and I’m ready to attack the outdoor track season and perform at the level I know I’m capable of. Next week, I’ll be heading to Flagstaff, Arizona for a month of altitude training.

Runners train at altitude is to promote the body’s production of red blood cells. At higher altitudes, there is less oxygen in the air. This means that there is less available oxygen for red blood cells to deliver to muscles during exercise. Your muscles crave oxygen, especially when working hard! When living and training at altitude over an extended period of time, your body increases its number of red blood cells, in order to compensate for the decreased amount of oxygen in the air. When runners descend from altitude, they have increased red blood cell levels, and there is much more oxygen in the air. This combination allows a significant efficiency in the body’s ability to transport oxygen to the muscles. This benefits runners when racing after a long altitude stint! 

Throughout my altitude training this month, I hope to prepare mentally and physically for upcoming races. Workouts at altitude are tough. Sometimes workouts can actually be harder than races. Those workouts are what prepare you for race day. They give you the physical and mental tools to compete.

In addition to the physical benefits of altitude training, I’m looking forward to spending time with my teammates. Often, people think about running as an individual sport. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Teammates help each other get through tough workouts, pick each other up after disappointing races, and celebrate each others victories. I’m also looking forward to focusing more on recovery as an aspect of my training – taking time to listen to my body more. I’ll also be able to focus more on nutrition. I know I’ll be ready to run fast when I come back down!

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