Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Acclimatization for high altitude runs and climbs.

This is a very interesting topic because most of the altitude acclimatization literature addresses mountaineer's perspective, trail runners wanting to set speeds records or run high altitude trails
need more specific training routines.

This article is a place holder to log all the known workouts which has lead to effective acclimatization and eventually a successful high altitude long distance running adventure.

1. Kilian Jornet's Speed Record:
Interestingly last week Spain's Kilian Jornet set a speed record for Mt Kilimanjaro ascent and descent. He has posted a short video on his training leading upto high altitude runs.

Synopsis from his video:
VO2 max of 88-92.
Resting heart rate 34.
Max heart rate 205.
Racing heart rate 190 for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Form: heel strike on steep descents, forefoot otherwise.
Training: 3 weeks at altitude in preparation for a race.
Sessions last 3 hours for short races, 5-6 hours for ultras.
Protocol: gradually increase pace and grade up to 20 km/hr (4:50/mile) at 16-17%
uphill grade.

2. Matt Mahoney's acclimatization for leadville 100m:
Matt a prolific ultrarunner has elaboratly listed his acclimatization routine leading upto leadville 100m, which he finished within 30hrs, a tough race with aggressive cutoffs.

More articles are due, but based on above articles at the minimum a 3 week time in high altitude area is required to acclimatize to specific conditions, which should include intense workouts during the day at high altitude and rest at low altitude.

3. Chadd Kellog's speed climbs:

Following two speed climbs by prolific mountaineer Chad Kellogg is very interesting validation on the power of acclimatization.
i) After a good acclimization going up and down Denali west buttress route, Chad did a solo summit and back of Denali in 24hrs , his climb report is fascinating, this route under good conditions is done in 2 weeks by most folks.


ii) Chad attempted another solo summit climb of Mt Everest without sherpa support and O2, he made it upto to balcony before turning back. His dispatches are at:

Both these reports have been very informative and highlights the possibility of body's peak performance once it is fully well acclimatized. There is no shortcuts to acclimatization for sure, but once acclimatized human potential is immense.