Saturday morning I was beyond excited to spend some time running in Park City, Utah because the scenery was for this mid-western, now Florida girl…breath taking.
Part of the reason I am so in love with running is it provides me with an excuse to be outside where I feel simultaneously peaceful and energized.
I spent most of each day saying something along the lines of “It’s so pretty”, followed by a contented sigh (yes even though it was gray and cloudy!). I even started apologizing for saying it out loud so frequently, but I really couldn’t help myself! The green landscape, the mountains and the fresh air were outstanding…David is probably reading this and cringing as he knows a thought provoking maybe we should move discussion is probably hatching in my mind.Park City has these amazing paved paths running all over the city! There were bikers or walkers or runners on it every time we passed. You can see the Olympic ski slopes in the distance.
This is the view from the airport!! I wonder how many people get there and decide not to leave?!
Coming from sea level, I remembered feeling a little short of breath a few months ago in Snowbird, Utah when trying to run…so it was no surprise to me that I noticed it here at 8,000 feet as well. Yet oddly enough with the altitude, the cold and RAIN I enjoyed every step of our 9 mile run…even if I was huffing to catch up with the speedsters Bonnie, Bobbie and Taylor.
There was apparently a 41 mile relay happening sometime while we were there…we just thought it was nice they put up signs for us!
Why is altitude training so different? Running at high altitudes decreases the amount of oxygen getting to the muscles and there is an increased risk of dehydration. “At 6000 feet above sea level, you exhale and perspire twice as much moisture as you do at sea level.” - From High Altitude Life.
Many elite athletes prefer to train for a portion of the year above 5,000 feet because it allows their body to produce more red blood cells and enhance their oxygen capacity. However, the downside for many is they can’t train quite as fast…hence the reason they cycle from high to low!
According to Greg McMillan, over 7,000 feet you can expect an easy run to be up to 30 seconds slower per mile to achieve the same easy level of effort.
There is a lot of science you can read on this, but here are some plain English tips for the common runner who is simply ready to enjoy a run on vacation:
- Go as soon as you can upon arrival. Altitude sickness often sets in a day or two after arrival.
- Hydrate - as noted above you need more water here than normal and it’s easy to be dehydrated while traveling anyways. So consciously focus on getting in enough water.
- Slow your pace - This isn’t the time to force a speed work session, instead take advantage of the great views and enjoy a leisurely paced run.
- Consider walk breaks - Even if they are not part of your normal routine, a few pauses throughout the run may allow you to
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