Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Did High Altitude Make me Fitter?

I was asked this question a little while back after a friend was looking back at his performance over the year. One of his main improvements was after hiking across Sierra Nevada; Granada over several days, spending that time mostly above 2000m
My initial answer was yes, but then I thought I would try to give a fuller answer, taking some information from various soures. 

 Some background:

here we can see the baseline for different locations and the general trend is a small increase 13 - 15

here we can see that two weeks spent at altitude has had a small increase too.
here is a test to see how training affects lasted in runners post events

Well Ben, you will see that some runners had some increase from training but not much.
High altitude tests showed a increase of a couple of percent and some longevity post training. 

What is interesting to note is the anaerobic, sprints, short burst, things you can do holding your breath are not an issue, its the endurance events that we have to consider.

So your hike in Granada last summer might have increased your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels, or it might not have had much change or did you just get fitter heart and lungs and therefore feel in better form after some rest days?

Without a blood test and Vo2 oxygen test both before and after we will never know. I would put my money on the latter, compiled with supercompensation (regeneration of muscules to get stronger after training) with perhaps mild changes in hematology.
hope that helps.
thanks for the question

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