/ How long does the benefit of altitude take to wear off?
I've a 10k run on Saturday in London which I entered partly in the hope of a residual effect of being at altitude giving me an advantage.
We came back down on Monday afternoon and I've obviously re-acclimatised to sea level but based on your experience of being at altitude, is there likely to be much of an effect on Saturday or is it too long since I came down?
After a few weeks you get an increase in red blood cells. This second stage is the type of acclimatisation which is useful in races when you get down, and lasts for a while (no idea how long).
I'm afraid you will only have the first type, and that's naff all use for any sort of race. You will loose it as quick as you got it anyway.
I'm no expert, but that's how i understand it.
I spent 3 weeks between 4800m - 7300m and noted a difference for about 7 days once I returned to sea level. However, this difference was measured in highly unscientific ways (i.e. "that run felt easier than normal").
I would doubt 3 days at 3,500m would see any notable benefits.
heres a weird thing:
i once had haemorroids. on a climbing trip that was mostly above 3500, with lots above 4500 and up to 6000-something, they went away.
they stayed away for about 2 weeks after (that included a brief trip back to 4800m).
later, when theyd returned, but not to the extend as before, i spent 2 months at altitude, most above 5000m.
the haemorroids never returned.
i did ask a doctor once about it (who had some knowledge of altitude) and he was baffled but thought about it. he thought that maybe, as acclimation is a process governed by the endocrine system, that same process affected the venal valves on the blood vessels (not just in your ass, but elsewhere too).
purely anecdotal, and no conclusions, but maybe helpful, especially if you have haemorroids.
Problem is that although you may still have the benefit of time at altitude you may not have anything to show for it because by plodding around in the mountains for many hours each day with a rucksack you may have lost any speed for running 30 - 40 minutes on the flat (takes me weeks to get up to speed after a summer in the Alps).
When Lasse Viren used to peak absurdly well for major championships, Brendan Foster asked him how he did.
"Reindeer milk Brendan, reindeer milk"
It was widely believed that Viren went to altitude, had his own blood taken then it was re-infused just before the championships. There was no test that could prove what he had done at the time, I'm not even sure if blood doping was an offence in those days.
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