The Sci­ence of Run­ning

Canadian Running - - CONTENTS -

By Alex Hutchin­son The Fu­ture of Alti­tude Train­ing; The Fu­ture of Gait Anal­y­sis; The Fu­ture of Run­ning Psy­chol­ogy;

Head­ing to the moun­tains to train in the thin high-alti­tude air has be­come an es­sen­tial rit­ual for many of the best en­durance ath­letes in the world. It’s a ma­jor has­sle, though, so coaches and sci­en­tists have long searched for sim­pler al­ter­na­tives, like hav­ing ath­letes at sea level sleep in alti­tude – sim­u­lat­ing tents, wear­ing oxy­gen – re­strict­ing masks dur­ing train­ing, or even us­ing heat cham­bers as an al­ter­na­tive stress in­stead of thin air. Now, a new study from the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Sport, pub­lished in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Sports Phys­i­ol­ogy and Per­for­mance, of­fers an even sim­pler pos­si­bil­ity. The per­for­mance of 2 4 run­ners, who ei­ther trained en­tirely at sea level or spent three weeks train­ing at an el­e­va­tion of 1,600 to 1,800 me­tres was mon­i­tored for 11 weeks. The alti­tude train­ers raced about 1.5 per cent faster af­ter their moun­tain train­ing, seem­ingly con­firm­ing the ben­e­fits of alti­tude. But an anal­y­sis of their train­ing load, which com­bines how long they trained each day with a sub­jec­tive mea­sure of how hard it felt, sug­gests that the ath­letes were sim­ply train­ing harder at alti­tude, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing at least 30 per cent more train­ing load than their sea level peers. The se­cret of moun­tain train­ing camps, in other words, may be partly down to the lack of dis­trac­tions and will­ing­ness to work harder than usual – a sit­u­a­tion that, in the­ory at least, you can repli­cate at no cost down at sea level.

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