At Altitude…

by | Oct 7, 2019

Having a combo title with October’s National Seafood Month didn’t seem quite right. Though great wild fish, loaded with high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids are to be headlined, fer sure.

I’m tapping away at a Denver-like altitude of 5,264 feet above sea level. Johannesburg is a high and dry place called “The City of Gold.”

Gold medals and altitude training do relate for reasons like howstuffworks offer:

” In order to cope with less oxygen available in thin air, the body produces more hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying components of red blood cells). Having more hemoglobin/red blood cells [MAY] results in improved performance at sea level.

Most athletes I know who train at altitude offer 2 weeks as the time it takes our bodies to adapt for less oxygen when exercising.

Continuing, ”

Marathoner Ed Eyestone suggests that the “sweet spot” for altitude training is between 7,000 and 8,000 feet (2,133 and 2,438 meters), and many coaches believe that altitude training is most effective at the peak of training, near the date of a competition.

Purported benefits of high altitude training include:

  • increased lung capacity
  • increased lactic acid threshold
  • increased hemoglobin mass and red cell volume
  • muscles more efficient at extracting oxygen from the blood

…not all of these benefits have been proven scientifically. Still, many athletes and coaches have an “it can’t hurt” approach.  If you can accommodate 2 weeks of training at 7,000 feet before a major competition – reach high!


In my indoor rowing circles, rowers who complete a 2,000-meter time trial at 5,000 feet or greater get a ~ 6 second time handicap over sea level folks.  You may know that this 1% handicap for a 2K is huge on race day.  Just saying.


Be well at any altitude,




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