High Altitude Training...help!

Hello everyone!

I am quite an accomplished ultrathon runner (this thread will be in the training & ultrathon folders) so I decided to up the challenge.

I have entered the 'swiss alpine davos 79.4k' run in July, But i'm worried about the altitude disadvantage I have. The run starts at just over 1500m's & peaks at 2600m's. Thinking the U.K.'s highest mountain isn't even as high as the start is kind of daunting!

I was hoping someone who have ran/walked/climbed in high altitudes could give me some insight on what to expect, what differences there to your performance & if there is any way I can prepare before I get there.

Thank you all for your thoughts!


  • WiBWiB ✭✭✭
    Lloyd - There are plenty of guys from the UK who go out and do races such as UTMB and Leadville which are higher than any mountain in the UK. Normally head out a few days before and just spend some time at altitude walking and gentle running.
  • as WiB says, the best option is to get a few days acclimatisation in beforehand, but the alternative approach if that's not possible, is to arrive as close to the start as feasible and just get on with it. sure, the body will get a shock but it's an approach that seems to work for a lot of people.

    I've gone from sea level to ski touring (going uphill on skis) up to 2700m in less than 24 hrs - I was very out of breath at that level having worked hard to get up there, but otherwise I was fine. but then I wasn't trying to break any records either!!
  • Hi to you, Ive climbed at altitude, Kilimanjaro just over 6000 m, like the others have said get some acclimatisation in first if its possible, take some Diamox tablets with you for altitude sickness but be careful they do dehydrate you so drink plenty, and go with how your body's feeling. you will feel very weak and have no energy, but fight it, just carry on, you will be surprised what your body can do at altitude. your breathing rate will increase, so practise deep breathing exercisers to open your lungs up. i wish you all the best.
  • Thanks alot guys some really interesting thoughts!

    I have never heard of the 'straight into it' way but will definitely have a bit of research on that one. I have a few days at that height before the waist but most people say it should be a good 5 days & obviously I cant change flights/accom so I will just have to survive!

    I am very interested in the breathing exercises you spoke of though...do you have any links to things you think would be helpful?

    Thanks alot again!
  • WaboWabo ✭✭✭
    HI Lloyd, I have run in Cusco which is 11400ft above sea level and one thing I would add, although you will no doubt find out, is really take it easy.  Actually you cant help but do that! Its exactly as everyone says, you are slower I also found that due to the air so thin, my legs felt heavy.  I had to walk at those points. Good luck, I am back to Cusco next week and will be trying to run a bit more than last year!
    possunt quia posse videntur - we can because we know we can 
  • Wabo - did you try the coca tea or leaves?  I did the Inca Trail a few years back and we were practically force fed them by the guides, they did help (I know this advice won't help lloyd due to lack of coca bushes in the alps).

    One general point is that how you react to altitude is unpredictable. The fittest member of our group suffered from altitude sickness at Cusco and was unable to continue to Machu Picchu.  He still had not acclimatised by the time we returned 5 days later.

  • Lloyd, I ran Leadville a couple of years ago and Wasatch Front last year and so have some experience of this. 

    The altitude is a tricky one. From everything I read it appears that unless you can spend c. 3 weeks at altitude before a race then it is unlikely that you will have enough time to acclimatise...I did not have time for that given work and family.  The theory if time is tight is that you should simply get to altitude as close to the race as possible (i.e. within 24 hours of the start) so that your body does not have a chance to adjust...the technical explanations for this are beyond my grasp of physiology but there is a good article here if you are interested:


    In both cases me and the wife (who also ran) swooped into town the day before the race.  We also took Ginkgo Biloba which is a herbal remedy recommended for altitude sickness..and which seemed to be OK!  Definitely felt the effects in Leadville (developed altitude induced asthma) and Wasatch (which both get up to c. 14,000ft or so from memory) mostly after 15 hours plus of racing. 

    I have biked lots in alps getting up over 2,000 metres and felt no effects and so you might find that this does not go high enough to impact you.  Hope this is some help!

  • SUPER thanks for that giggster that article was a very interesting read! It made a good point of either climatize properly or just turn up & run, unfortunately I am the same as the above (too long of a name!) I have booked flights 4/5 days earlier thinking that was the best way to do it image Hopefully where I am staying is in a low area so I can kind of fake the 'straight there & run'.

    Also I will do a bit of research into Ginkgo Biloba see what thats also about!
    Good luck btw Wabo!

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