Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Altitude Tents...The ultimate training aid

Friday, February 17, 2012

Altitude Tents...The ultimate training aid

Back in 1968, the Olympic games were held in Mexico City, at an altitude of 7,350 feet or 2240 metres. With less oxygen available to the athletes to breathe at such heights, most of the competitors in the distance running events ran much slower than usual. Some of the best performers were athletes who had been born and raised at high altitude. Although endurance performance is reduced in thin mountain air, living in such an environment stimulates changes in blood chemistry that improve general endurance performance capacity.

Today many competitive endurance athletes practice a philosophy known as “Live High, Train Low” that was indirectly inspired by the Mexico City Games. They sleep and rest in an oxygen-poor environment to thicken their blood, but they work out at low altitude to maximize their training performance and the benefits they derive from it. Some do this the hard way, by making their homes in the mountains and going downhill for important workouts. Others take a technological shortcut by living and training close to sea level and sleeping in special tents that simulate high altitude by reducing the oxygen content of the air inside.

Ciarán Ó Lionáird's coach Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project uses these altitude-simulating tents for the athletes he trains. He is quoted as saying...“It is proven that altitude training directly impacts an athlete’s performance level and we felt the safety and convenience features were added benefits for Nike athletes.”

If you are considering buying one ;o) then they're not cheap. They range in US prices from $2,500 to more than $5,000. The balance of research on the effects of altitude tents indicates that the user must spend at least 16 hours a day inside them to get a measurable performance benefit. Nevertheless, most athletes who make the investment still consider it a worthwhile investment.

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