Question: I live in the foothills above Denver (about 7,000 feet elevation), but my job means I travel to sea level for three or four nights each week. I do one or two shorts rides while traveling and don’t get a chance to do much training at elevation except on weekends.
With this schedule, I don’t feel like I’m getting acclimated for my goal: Colorado’s 120-mile Triple Bypass that goes to almost 12,000 feet. What do you think? — Charles B.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I think your situation is pretty close to ideal.
It’s important to get acclimated, and you can do that on the weekends by riding in the mountains. The problem with training at elevation is that VO2 max and power at lactate threshold are significantly reduced as you go higher. So while training high increases your ability to ride at altitude, it decreases your ability to ride fast. Sea-level training is much better for fast and productive training.
That’s why the preferred approach to altitude training has become “train low, sleep high.” Athletes are working out at a low elevation to maximize power and VO2 max, then sleeping at altitude so the body acclimates by producing more oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
In your case, simply ride long at elevation on the weekends and do a couple of fast, shorter rides at sea level during your business week. I bet you’ll be flying in the Triple Bypass.