“I’m all for altitude training but I don’t think it makes you any better than sea level training does. It might speed up you getting to your best.” – Dr. Jack Daniels
Question: I make adjustments to threshold pace for the duration of a tempo run. How should I adjust threshold pace at altitude? I coach runners at 5,200 feet.
Run SMART Coach Jack Daniels: If using sea level race performances and associated VDOT values (or typical sea-level training speeds) while at altitude, you must adjust the paces. At 5000 feet of altitude, the adjustment for Interval and Threshold runs would be about 8-10 seconds PER MILE (about 2-3 sec per 400) SLOWER than the sea-level paces. No adjustment needed in Rep paces as the duration of rep runs are short enough to not need to adjust, but you may need a little longer recoveries between bouts of work in a Rep session. No adjustment needed in the recoveries in Interval or Threshold work bouts because you are adjusting the training paces.
Part III of Jack’s Altitude Training Series focuses on, “What is the best altitude for living and training high?”
Any altitude at which you can perform quality training is useful, but moderate altitudes, in the range of 1600-2600 meters (5000-8500 feet), are felt to be ideal. Flagstaff’s 2134 meter (7000 feet) elevation is certainly in the middle of that range. At this altitude there are seldom any problems with altitude sickness and normal amounts and relative intensities of training are generally easy to maintain.
Next week we’ll post “How much improvement will take place with acclimatization?”
Part II of Jack’s Altitude Training Series focuses on, “How long does it takes to adapt to altitude.”
As already mentioned, in slow-speed endurance events, altitude-best performances will never match sea-level bests, but they will definitely improve with altitude training. In as few as two weeks, altitude performance will be noticeably improved. Within about six weeks of altitude training, acclimatization will be quite complete.
Dr. Jack put together a great document of Altitude Training FAQs for our running retreats in Flagstaff. It’s broken down into several parts so I’ll try and get one out a week over the next six weeks.
- The Effect of Altitude
- How long does it take to adjust to altitude
- What is the best altitude for living and training high?
- How much improvement will take place with acclimatization?
- Does everyone respond the same to altitude training?
- How long at sea level can you take advantage of any altitude improvement?