Live High Train Low?
I'm looking for information (links to studies) and personal experiences with the concept of 'Live high train low'. I'm not talking about training 'at altitude', but rather living at altitude and training at lower elevations.
I started training and racing this year after many years away from the sport. For over two years now I've lived at 8,300 feet near Nederland, Colorado and train 'down' in the Boulder area at an average of 5,400 feet.
Now that I have gotten fitter I notice that my recovery time after hard efforts is very short and that, generally speaking, the limiting factor on any given hard effort (climbing, speed-work, or TTing) is the lactic acid buildup in my legs (pain) rather than my breathing (cardio). I attribute this to my situation of living high and training low.
I found this information online about hematocrit levels and elevation: http://www.cyclingscience.org/hematocrit.htm
Has anyone else had a similar experience or have links to more information?
Last edited by HammyHead; 09-21-08 at 08:48 PM.
Reason: sentence structure
It's certainly correct that living at high altitude (low PaO2) stimulates red blood cell production, and that you'll thus have a higher hematocrit. So, the "live high" part holds at least. (Alternatively, you could live in a hypobaric chamber.) I'm not sure about the "train low" part though - there are two opposing forces at work here. One, the air is thinner - you'll go faster. Two, the air is thinner - you'll have a harder time breathing. So, my educated guess would be that if you train at high altitudes at above-average speeds, you should expect that to translate relatively to lower altitudes at slightly lower speeds, with slightly greater endurance. If you have the ability, then, I would probably recommend a hybrid - "Live high, train all over."
I rather doubt that one's speed on a bicycle will be affected by the air density as you decrease in altitude to any measurable effect unless you are a world class cyclist doing a sprint.
At sealevel, there is enough oxygen in the air to come very close to saturating the hemoglobin in your blood stream. As you go up in altitude, with the lower partial pressures of oxygen, less of your hemoglobin will be saturated. That means that your blood will deliver less oxygen to your exercising muscles. That means you will have less power. Of course, living at high altitude, should increase your hemoglobin concentrations and partially offset that.
I would have to find some charts on partial pressures of oxygen and hemoglobin saturation before I could say where and how much of a negative effect it would be. But people often notice altitude effects even at modest altitudes like 5,000' so it is significant.
But again, what is the big deal for amateurs? It isn't like anyone is paying us to do this. So if we finish a ride in 2 hours or 1 hour and 53 minutes, it does not make any difference.
Last edited by Enthalpic; 09-22-08 at 11:55 AM.
It makes a surprisingly large difference. Flat time trails at altitude are significantly faster (if you can find a nice plateau). Climbing speed, however, does decrease slightly as the aerodynamic benefit rapidly decreases as you slow down.
Originally Posted by Pat