A blog by runners. For runners.

Running at altitude: part two

running-at-altitude-part-twoLast week, we discussed the science behind altitude and how your body adjusts to these new challenges. Today we’ll discuss a few tips to help make your altitude running more enjoyable.

Firstly, I can say without a doubt my running over the last few days has readily improved from what it was just a week ago. However, after two and a half weeks in Colorado I am still not running at 100 percent. I know this adjustment will take time and the most important thing to do is to keep running. In the meantime, here are a few of the tricks and tips I’ve been using to combat the altitude.

  1. Take it slowly. Don’t expect to run your best in the first few weeks of being at altitude. Allow your body the time it needs to acclimate and build endurance. I normally run comfortably around the 8-minute mark without much trouble. In the past few weeks I’ve run much slower not because I’m not pushing myself, but because I can’t seem to go much faster.
  2. Listen to your body. It’s hard to see the slower mile times on my WalkJogRun app but I know it’s what my body needs. The best trick, I’ve found is actually to not look at the time or distance while I’m running. This helps keep me out of my ego mind and more focused on my body’s cues. What’s great about this strategy is that my body is adapting on it’s own. I went back and looked at my last few runs and the mile times are decreasing on their own, while a 10 minute mile was all I could muster last Monday, this week’s Monday run was at 9 minutes. Slow success!
  3. Drink more water. Naturally when you breathe out you exhale water. At altitude you inhale and exhale more frequently in order to get more oxygen, as a result you exhale more water than you would at sea level. This can cause dehydration. When you’re at altitude it’s important to be mindful of this change by drinking extra water once you arrive and especially as you begin your training routine.
  4. Arrive early or right before a race. It may take runners a few days to actually feel the affects of altitude. Researchers go as far as saying that if you’re planning to run a race at altitude it’s best to arrive at least two to three weeks before your race to acclimate. If you’re not a professional athlete, this may not be possible, so the next best option is to come in the night before your race so you’re body doesn’t have as much time to become fatigued by the stressors of the air.
  5. Be mindful of altitude sickness. Within a few hours or days some people may begin to feel altitude sickness. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, nausea, or dizziness. Oftentimes these are symptoms of dehydration instead of altitude, start by drinking water. You should also rest and limit activity until you begin to feel better. Symptoms should resolve anywhere from 12 hours to 3-4 days.



Take breaks, back off and let your body do it’s thing as it adjusts to it’s new surrounding. Within a few weeks at altitude you should begin to feel like your sea level self again, only better!

 Written by Lisa Horvath.

Related: Running at altitude, part one