Tapering and Acclimation…

  • Creator
  • #23683


    I understand the setting of this question is a bit outside the general “Uphill Athlete” terrain, but I figured the crowd here would be able to answer this question best, since it relates to our training.

    Over the past 6 months, I’ve taken a small hiatus from the mountains to try out triathlon- I’m going for my first Ironman at Lake Placid in July (and figured it’d be a great base builder, etc.). Things have been going well, but I may have tried to get too clever with my taper, and wanted to see if you all had any wisdom to share.

    I train in MA primarily, with some trips to NH and NY, but for all intents and purposes at sea level. I thought it might be advantageous in a 3-week taper to go up to altitude to get a few more red blood cells working for me on race day. I was looking at taking a five-day vacation in UT with some slow hiking (just for the purposes of acclimating) a week before the race, primarily between 8000-11000′ (the last time I was at this altitude was probably late-March). I generally acclimate pretty well, especially at those altitudes, but it’s now occurring to me as I approach the big day, and am actually facing the risk of trashing my 6 months of hard work, that I’m throwing a new kind of stress at a system that’s just recovering from a bunch of others. I’d have two days back in Boston at sea level before I’d head up to Lake Placid, four days before race day (LP is at 1800′).

    So another factor will be travel time. Three time zones each way, 4/5 hour flight X2, and a 5 hour drive thrown in (BOS->LP) over about a week, but I will have three full days at LP before race day to acclimate to the region.

    Is this a good idea? Or am I just throwing an extra wrench at my set of gears?

    Is five days at 8000′ enough for a benefit at 1800′ a week later?


  • Participant
    jakob.melchior on #23696

    If you want to perform as well as possible at the IM I think that is a very bad plan. 5 days won’t be enough to see any altitude benefit when racing at low elevation and you won’t taper well.
    Also 5 days without swimming and cycling is not a good idea right before the race.

    How do you plan to structure the 3-week taper, what is your current training load and what is your goal time? I have never done a long distance tri but short and mid distance to a relatively high level in the past (sub 2h olympic and 4:18 hilly 70.3). Personally, I would only really taper off the running for maybe 10-14 days and keep the cycling and swimming relatively normal right until the last 4-5 days. Since long distance is not really about speed you don’t need much sharpening. With a very long taper the risk of the body shutting too far down is quite high. If you are using trainingspeaks and have some experience with tapering using the PMC I thing that can be a good tool. For me I feel quite bad for 3-4 days when I start tapeing of a high training load and then need 2 days training (short with relatively high intensity) right before the race to get a good feeling back.

    Anonymous on #23712

    I agree with Jakob;

    A short trip to altitude, especially one that involves one with a lot of travel is a bad idea right before your race. You will not increase your red blood cells in 5 days. That effect takes at least 14 weeks to occur. Other adaptations to altitude take place in the first days but not an increase in red blood cells


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