Altitude Training: Boosting Endurance Running Performance

Altitude Training Boosting Endurance Running Performance

Table of Contents

Altitude training is a great way to boost endurance running performance. It’s also a fun and exciting way to get in shape, whether you’re an experienced runner or just getting started.

Did you know that runners who train at high altitudes can shave up to 5% off their race times? That’s a staggering improvement that could take you from podium hopeful to champion, or weekend warrior to a personal-best crusher. This isn’t magic – it’s the power of altitude training.

Here’s a guide that explains all you need to know about altitude training, including the science behind it and practical tips to get started. Altitude training can improve your endurance running, whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a beginner preparing for your first 5K. So, get ready to breathe deep, dig deep, and reach new heights in your running journey!

Key Takeaways:

  • Boost Performance: Training at high altitudes or simulating them can improve VO2 max, red blood cell production, and running efficiency, leading to better performance.
  • Multiple Methods: There are several methods available to reap the benefits of altitude training: living high, training low, moderate altitude stays, and simulated chambers.
  • Gradual Adaptation: Start slow and listen to your body to avoid altitude sickness. Proper acclimatization is crucial for success.
  • Target Audience: From elite athletes to weekend warriors, altitude training can benefit runners of all levels seeking to enhance their endurance.

What is Altitude Training?

What is Altitude Training?

Altitude training is a method of improving endurance running performance by exposing yourself to lower oxygen levels. You can live in a high area or visit an altitude training center to sleep in conditions like that.

This training type increases red blood cell count, which helps carry more oxygen to muscles during exercise. This has improved sea-level performance and high altitudes (above 8,000 feet).

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How Does Altitude Training Affect Endurance Running Performance?

How Does Altitude Training Affect Endurance Running Performance?

Altitude training is a proven way to boost endurance running performance. The benefits are numerous, including:

Increased Oxygen Delivery – Your body’s ability to deliver oxygen to working muscles increases with altitude. This allows you to run faster and longer without feeling fatigued.

Improved Metabolism – When you are at high altitudes, your body uses more fat and fewer carbohydrates, which are your main energy source.

 So, even if you eat less during a race or training session at high altitudes, you won’t lose much energy. This is because your body doesn’t need as many carbohydrates there.

Improved Muscular Performance – Because there’s less oxygen available at higher elevations, muscles must work harder for them not only to stay active but also to keep up with the demands from other parts of the body like lungs and heart rate.

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Altitude Training Methods (SEO Optimized)

Live High Train High (LHTH)Living and training at high altitudes (above 6,000 feet) for extended periods.
Live High Train Low (LHTL)Living at high altitudes but performing key workouts at lower elevations.
Moderate Altitude TrainingTraining at moderate elevations (5,000-7,000 feet) for several weeks or months.
Simulated Altitude TrainingUtilizing altitude tents, chambers, or masks to mimic the effects of high altitude at lower elevations.

High Altitude Training

High Altitude Training

High altitude training boosts endurance running performance by exposing your body to the effects of higher elevations. At higher altitudes, the air has less oxygen. This means your body must work harder to get the oxygen it needs. Working harder builds your muscles and makes them use oxygen more efficiently. This efficiency helps your muscles get energy from food or fat better. Training at high altitudes offers numerous benefits. If you want to run faster than anyone, and you live at sea level, moving to a high-altitude area might help. But how do we achieve this?

Low Altitude Training

Low-altitude training is the opposite of high-altitude training. The lower the altitude, the more oxygen there is in the air. Therefore, your body can get more oxygen per breath. This means your body can train harder at lower altitudes than higher ones (like when running up a mountain).

Low altitude training has many benefits:

You’ll be able to run faster because your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood around your body with less oxygen available in every breath of air.

Your muscles recover quicker from workouts because they aren’t as damaged. This is due to better oxygenated blood flow. At higher elevations, there’s not enough air pressure. This makes respiration harder, affecting performance during exercises like long-distance running. Without enough air, we have to stop often to catch our breath. This occurs along roads or trails. But with more oxygen, we can keep moving forward without stopping as much. This helps us reach our destinations faster.

Simulated Altitude Training

Simulated altitude training improves your endurance by mimicking high-altitude conditions. It gets you ready for high-elevation races by training at lower altitudes. Here, the air has less oxygen, making breathing tougher.

This training takes place at elevations between 4,000 and 5,500 feet above sea level. You’ll use an altitude chamber or tent, either at a facility or potentially at home. Monitoring your heart rate during workouts helps check if you’re pushing yourself sufficiently.

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Altitude Training and Elite Athletes

Altitude Training and Elite Athletes

Elite athletes have used altitude training for decades, but it’s only recently that the science behind it has been fully understood.

The benefits of altitude training are numerous:

Improved oxygen delivery to muscles

Better recovery from workouts, allowing you to train harder and longer

Increased red blood cell count (which enhances oxygen delivery)

Altitude Training and Olympic Games

Participating in altitude training enhances performance in the Olympics. Elite athletes often use it to increase their endurance and prepare for high-altitude competitions. Let’s explore how Olympians have benefited from altitude training:

In 2016, Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya trained at high altitudes before the Rio Olympics marathon. He won gold with a time of 2:00:24, which is 4:38 per mile. This time was over 30 seconds faster than his personal best, which he set at sea level five months earlier.

Ethiopian runner Genzebe Dibaba also used altitude training before the 2016 Rio Olympics. She won gold in the 5000m and 10,000m races. Her 10k time was 31:16, nearly two minutes faster than her best time on an indoor track two weeks before.

Altitude Training and Human Kinetics

Altitude Training and Human Kinetics

Altitude training is an effective way to improve your endurance running performance. It’s also widespread among professional athletes, who use it to prepare for high-altitude competitions or races.

Altitude training boosts oxygen flow and use. This lets you run faster with a lower heart rate. After training high up and returning to your regular routine, your body keeps up its performance with less effort from your heart and lungs.

Many elite runners have benefited from altitude training. For example:

– Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia set world records in the 5K and 10K. He grew up training above 7500 ft (2134 m).

– Paula Radcliffe from Great Britain trained at high altitudes. She then won gold medals at three Olympic Games in a row.

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Altitude Training and VO2 Max

Altitude training can improve your VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen you can use during exercise. This is especially important for endurance athletes because it helps them run faster and longer before fatigue.

Living at high altitudes for several weeks or months is the most common way. For example, many professional cyclists live in Colorado Springs and train at altitude before races, such as Tour de France (they also have access to some pretty cool bikes). The benefits are so great that some people even go on vacation to train at higher elevations!

If you’re not interested in moving across the country or spending money on plane tickets, there are other ways to simulate an increase in elevation without leaving home:

- Go for walks around hills or mountains where there's less oxygen available than sea level would provide. 

- Run laps around your neighborhood park until your heart rate reaches 80-90% of its maximum capacity. 

- Do high intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions where each interval lasts only 10 seconds but includes sprinting as fast as possible followed by walking slowly until recovered enough before repeating.

Altitude Training and Aerobic Performance

Altitude training is a popular way of improving aerobic performance. It involves spending time at high altitudes, where less oxygen is available to the body.

The idea is that this will force your body to work harder to get enough oxygen into your muscles, which increases their ability to use oxygen more efficiently during exercise. In other words: it makes you better at running!

Athletes who use altitude training include athletes who compete in events lasting more than one minute (e.g., runners) and those who compete over shorter distances with intense bursts of speed and power (e.g., sprinters).

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Altitude Training and Endurance Training

Altitude training is a great way to boost your endurance running performance. It can help you build up your lung capacity, increase the amount of oxygen that reaches the muscles and reduce muscle fatigue.

Athletes who use altitude training include:

Kenyan runners who live at high altitudes and train at sea level. They then compete in races at lower altitudes where they have an advantage over their competitors who don’t live at high altitudes or train there regularly

British cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins (who won gold medals in both the 2012 Olympics and 2016 Olympics) used it to prepare for his Tour de France victories.

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What Are the Benefits of Altitude Training for Endurance Running Performance?

Altitude training is a great way to boost your endurance running performance. It can help you improve your VO2 max, oxygen utilization, running economy, and lactate threshold.

There are several benefits to altitude training, including:

Improved Oxygen Delivery: The air contains less oxygen at higher altitudes than at sea level. This means your body must work harder to deliver oxygen to your muscles. Over time and with repeated exposure, this increased need for more efficient delivery will increase blood volume and red blood cells (which carry oxygen). This leads to better endurance performance because you can run faster without getting tired as quickly as before.

Increased EPO Levels: Living at high altitudes has another advantage: it raises EPO levels. EPO is a hormone that helps make more red blood cells in the bone marrow. Higher EPO helps athletes do better in competitions. It makes their heart and blood system work better. It also lowers the chance of injuries by reducing the stress on joints during activities like running or cycling.

Improved Athletic Performance

Altitude Training Benefits for Endurance Runners (SEO Optimized)

Increased VO2 MaxAltitude training pushes your body to adapt to lower oxygen levels, boosting your VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during exercise).
Enhanced Red Blood Cell ProductionThe body responds to lower oxygen by producing more red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your muscles.
Improved Lactate ThresholdAltitude training elevates your lactate threshold, the point at which fatigue sets in during exercise.
Faster Recovery TimesAltitude training can improve recovery between workouts, allowing you to train harder more consistently.
Boosted Mental ToughnessPushing through the challenges of altitude training can build mental resilience and focus.


(1) The Effects of Altitude Training on Endurance Performance. https://bravewerk.com/the-effects-of-altitude-training-on-endurance-performance/

(2) The basics, benefits, and limits of altitude training. https://worldathletics.org/personal-best/performance/altitude-training-advice-tips

(3) Hypoxic training methods for improving endurance exercise performance. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254615000836

(4) High Altitude Training | What It Is & Benefits for Endurance Athletes. https://www.myprotein.com/thezone/training/what-is-high-altitude-training-benefits-endurance-athletes/

(5) Altitude Training: Does It Work and How to Do? https://www.healthline.com/health/altitude-training.

What Are the Risks of Altitude Training?

What Are the Risks of Altitude Training?

Altitude training can be risky. The most common side effect of altitude training is altitude sickness, which can cause headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Dehydration is also a risk factor for athletes who live at sea level but train at high altitudes. This can lead to muscle fatigue and injury risk if you’re not careful about hydration during workouts.

Altitude Sickness: You may have heard of “the bends” or decompression sickness–this is what happens when nitrogen bubbles form in your bloodstream after rapid ascents in elevation (like climbing Mount Everest). In extreme cases, this can result in paralysis or death! But luckily, it’s rare for healthy adults who aren’t scuba divers or deep-sea divers with preexisting conditions like chronic lung disease or heart problems; however, it’s still something you should be aware of if you plan on doing any prolonged physical activity at high altitudes (like hiking).

Who Can Benefit from Altitude Training?

Altitude training is a great way to improve your endurance running performance. Whether you’re an elite athlete, recreational runner, or amateur athlete, altitude training can help boost your performance.

Elite athletes: Elite athletes who live at sea level may benefit from altitude training because it allows them to train harder and longer than they would be able to if they were not living at high elevations. This allows them to increase their VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen that can be taken into the body per minute), making them faster when competing against other elite runners who have also trained at high altitudes.

Recreational runners: Recreational runners who live at sea level may benefit from altitude training because it allows them to train harder and longer than they would be able to if they were not living at high elevations.

Amateur Athletes: Amateur Athletes who live at sea level may benefit from altitude training because it allows them to train harder and longer than they would be able to if they were not living at high elevations.

Endurance Athletes: Endurance Athletes who live above 5,000 feet above sea level could potentially see improvements in their VO2 max by spending time exercising in lower oxygen environments such as those found near mountains or hillsides

How Can You Implement Altitude Training?

The first step to implementing altitude training is to ensure you’re in an environment with lower oxygen levels. This can be done through a variety of methods, but the most common methods include:

Altitude camps. These are often located at high altitudes where athletes live and train for several weeks. They provide access to facilities like treadmills, bikes, and weights so athletes can still get their workouts in while they’re away from home.

Altitude tents/chambers. These devices typically provide a controlled amount of oxygen (usually between 13% – 18%), simulating the effects of living at higher altitudes without traveling anywhere! They should only be used under supervision because they can cause serious health issues if used improperly or incorrectly sized for an individual’s body type.

What Are Some Examples of Altitude Training?

Altitude training can be done in many ways, depending on your goals and training time.

Altitude training can be done in many ways, depending on your goals and training time.

Live High Train Low: This type involves spending a few days at a high altitude (around 7,000 feet), followed by a few days at sea level where less oxygen is available. The athlete then repeats this cycle several times throughout their training program. This method allows for better recovery than higher-intensity workouts because it allows more time between workouts to rest and recover from the stress placed on muscles during exercise sessions at high altitudes.

Moderate Altitude: This method involves staying at an elevation between 5-7 thousand feet above sea level for several weeks or months while continuing with normal training routines such as running three times per week with some cross-training mixed in between runs (such as biking or swimming). You may also want to increase your carbohydrate intake during this period so that your body has enough fuel for physical activity and recovery afterward!


Altitude training isn’t just for mountain goats and Olympian gods anymore. Whether you’re a weekend warrior chasing a personal best or a seasoned athlete aiming for the podium, incorporating altitude training into your routine can be a real game-changer. It’s like giving your engine a natural turbo-boost, letting you run farther and faster with less effort.

Of course, altitude training isn’t a magic bullet. It takes planning, dedication, and maybe even a little #sufferingforsuccess. But the potential rewards are undeniable. So lace up your shoes, grab your water bottle, and get ready to conquer new heights in your running journey. Remember, the only peak you can’t reach is the one you don’t even attempt. Happy training!


Exercise and Elevation – American College of Cardiology

These are acute mountain sickness (AMS), high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). 16 AMS is the least severe form, occurring in approximately 10-25% acclimated.

Altitude Training: Does It Work and How to Do – Healthline

A 2016 study comparing the effectiveness of altitude training versus sea-level training found that altitude training can help muscle fatigue by increasing erythropoietin (EPO) production..

The Science Behind Altitude Training – Affinity Altitude

It has been found that athletes who lived at an altitude of 2500m for 4 weeks demonstrated 1: increased red cell mass (≈7–8%) over their sea-level baseline, as well …

Altitude training: Study puts some data behind … – ScienceDaily

This study suggests that an athlete may perform best at 18 to 22 days because the extra breathing goes away and the body gets re-acclimated to a lower altitude. “

How high-altitude training can benefit elite endurance athletes like …

The advantage of altitude training is that the muscles get a natural boost when more oxygen is available during lower-altitude competitions. The disadvantage is that athletes can’t train as …