Question: Do you have any recommendations for racing at altitude? I’ve bonked badly in events at elevations of 5,000 to 8,000 feet. Guys I beat in the valley are killing me. Basically, I just can’t breath.
My coach says it’s all in my head. My doctor prescribed Diamox and some type of steroid, but I bonked even worse. Before the last race, I even took a week off work and stayed at race elevation for seven days, but it didn’t help. And I’ve done the opposite, not going up until late the night before the race. I even tried oxygen-enhanced water! — Dave Q.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: It sounds like you’re doing everything possible to acclimate.
I can’t offer any personal experience because I’velived at 6,000 feet for 32 years. I notice the altitude when I ride hard at 11,000 or 12,000 feet, but it’s more a lessening of power than the breathing problem you cite.
It’s possible that the doc didn’t hit on the right medication for your respiration difficulties. This is assuming there is a medical cause that can be treated. Let him know the results you’ve had and see if there is something else to try.
On the other hand, perhaps you simply need to continue training and racing at altitude until your body adapts. Maybe a few “training camp” weekends at high elevation would speed the process.