Anderson, B. D., Turk, D. E., Gotshall, R. W., Hickey, M. S., Israel, R. G., & Chicco, A. J. (2011). A single high-altitude training bout improves high-altitude aerobic performance following one week of low-altitude training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(5). Supplement abstract 1381.

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This study investigated whether a single bout of hill-running exercise performed at high altitude improved running performance, arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2), hematocrit (HCT), and perceived exertion (RPE) during a strenuous timed-run at high-altitude performed one week following the training stimulus. Ss were well-trained competitive runners (N = 8) living in Fort Collins, Colorado (5003 feet) that were naive to higher altitudes for at least eight weeks. Ss trained regularly (~66 miles/week) and refrained from any non-prescribed altitude exposure for the duration of the study. Baseline testing consisted of a timed-run on the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway in Colorado (11.5 miles at 11,500-14,100 feet) followed by one week of training in Fort Collins. Runners were then randomized to perform a 12-mile hill-running workout in Fort Collins (LOW; 6,000-7,000 feet, N = 4) or Mt. Evans (HIGH; 13,100-14,100 feet, N = 4). All runners then engaged in one week of routine training in Fort Collins followed by a post-test run at Mt. Evans that was identical to the baseline test.

The HIGH group experienced a ~4.7% improvement in high-altitude run time (7.1 minutes faster), while the LOW group ran ~-0.5% (1.3 minutes slower). Mean arterial oxygen saturation was 3% higher in the HIGH group in the post- vs. pre-test at 14,100 ft but in the LOW group it was 1% lower. In addition, arterial oxygen saturation tended to stabilize at higher levels in the HIGH vs. LOW (+2.25% vs., -2.99%, respectively) following completion of the post-test at 14,100 feet. Hematocrit tended to increase in both groups from pre- to post-testing, but there were no differences in hematocrit or rating of perceived exertion between the two groups.

Implication. A single high-altitude training bout prior to one week of lower-altitude training improves subsequent aerobic performance and arterial oxygen saturation at high altitude, while a single bout performed two weeks prior to testing is ineffective.

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