The European Cross Championships will be on Sunday, December 14, 2014 in Bulgarian Samokov (Borovets district). This place is located at an altitude of 1350 meters. That this height could be very decisive in the course of the race is beyond doubt.
We have already gained a lot of experience in this in the Tour de France
Efforts at height are particularly demanding. The number of oxygen molecules per breath is considerably lower and this reduces the oxygen saturation in the blood. The fact that top performance must also be delivered at that height is quite a challenge, but not exceptional. And there is also good news. In principle, athletes can prepare excellently for the height factor of Samokov. We have already gained considerable experience in this respect in the Tour de France with cols above 2000 metres. In addition, we regularly accompany clients to the top of Mount Everest, where the exertion at the ultimate summit attempt is quite extreme for the body. In both examples, we prepare athletes for a top performance to be delivered at altitude. This is different from using altitude training to achieve a peak performance at sea level.
How do we do this? By using the combination of 2 forms of altitude training.
1 / Live High, Train Low
Athletes sleep in one of our height tents for 4 weeks. We use this type of height training to increase the number of young red blood cells (reticulocytes). More red blood cells = more oxygen transport to the muscles so that they are less likely to get into trouble.
The number of hours in the altitude tent is at least 10 per night. Better is 12 hours and an afternoon nap can be counted as well.
During the entire 4-week period, we ask athletes to take extra iron and drink 1 liter of extra water.
2 / Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT)
We add this training form from 2the soak 3 to 4 times a week and this can be done on the couch. By means of a mask we simulate an extreme height of 6400 meters, which one must breathe in 6x 5 minutes. The body responds to this and the oxygen saturation will decrease rapidly.
However, as a reaction to this, the body will after a few weeks learning how to use oxygen-depleted air. We monitor this process with a saturation meter that can clearly chart progress.
In the last 5 days before departure, this exercise itself can be done daily for 1 hour.
Below: Athlete Jan van de Broeck during an IHT session.