By Leo Manzano
Altitude training or training at different levels of altitude has significant effects on the body. Some of those changes are good others are things to be cautious or be alert about so that your training does not suffer. Learning to maneuver through those changes beforehand was not easy, but currently with Ember by Cercacor, a device which helps measure many body level changes or parameters, it is now easier to keep track of those changes.
When I am at altitude, there are certain parameters I always want to keep in mind. These parameters for me include Hemoglobin, PVI (Hydration), Pulse Rate, and a few others which can also vary from person to person. Usually people have their favorite indicators/parameters they like to look at as their body goes through training phases.Living in Austin, the altitude is about 500ft and not long ago I traveled to Albuquerque NM which has an approximate altitude of 5500ft. The body is also a great machine and is able to adapt quickly even though there is some adaptation time. One of the reasons why we measure Hemoglobin is because it's associated with the red bloods cells which help carry oxygen to the body. This is super important because at lower levels the body does not have to work as hard as it becomes more efficient. Although once you travel to higher altitudes, the stress on the body begins and the body starts to produce more red blood cells to keep up with the demand of training and exertion. According to some researchers, red blood cells are generated every 26 days. This being said, it is also an approximate time frame to train your body at altitude.
According to my Ember by Cercacor readings the changes in my body parameters varied as training locations were switched from high to low altitudes. For example, my Hemoglobin of 15 g/dl at around an altitude of 500ft fell to 14g/dl at an altitude of around 5,500ft. I think this was due to the body exertion, but as I stayed in altitude, it slowly started climbing back up again. While in altitude you can also see changes in the PR in different areas or times of day depending on what you are doing, but most times, this number was higher for me, including having a reading after a run at 96bpm when on average at lower altitude after a run is about 75bpm. This is most definitely a sign that the body was working harder at a higher altitude. At attitude, there is also the hydration aspect to keep in mind whereas at lower altitudes you usually don’t have to worry as much. At altitude or in dryer weather, it is nice to be cognizant and know exactly where your body levels stand. According to Ember, my PVI (hydration) levels started to climb the longer I spent at altitude - they went from about 11 to 17. This is important because it's a red flag telling you that you need to make sure to keep your body hydrated.
Training at high altitude can be a fun and enjoyable, but if you are not prepared or don’t have the right tools to make decisions, it can be a bit harder to know what you need to do. I love New Mexico, and if you ever get a chance, make sure to take a run in the Foothills of the Sandia Mountains, or if you need a lighter run, you can also take a stroll on the river trail. Currently, Albuquerque, New Mexico is ranked amongst the best altitude training locations in the US. It is also very welcoming to the Running Community because it has many beautiful running trails and training facilities. Also, if you need other running attire, make sure to visit my friends at Athletes Edge, but if you are coming in for altitude training, don’t leave home without your EMBER device!!