Lundgren, E. A., Wilhite, D. P., Laymon, A. S., McKenzie, J. M., & Chapman, R. F. (2009). Running economy changes after altitude training: Role of ventilatory acclimatization. ACSM 56th Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington. Presentation number 2359.

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This study determined if potential running economy changes after altitude training can be explained by changes in ventilatory factors. Elite male distance runners (N = 6) completed a 28-day altitude training intervention in Flagstaff, Arizona (elevation 2,150 m) following a "live high - train low" training model. Running economy and expired ventilation were measured 2-9 days prior to departure to altitude and 1-2 days after return to sea level. Running economy was determined from VO2 measured in the final minute of 3-minute stages at three constant submaximal treadmill speeds of 291, 301, and 311 m/min. Respiratory muscle VO2 was estimated.

Post-altitude VO2 and expired ventilation were higher at each submaximal workload. Estimated respiratory muscle VO2 accounted for 12.3%, 11.0%, and 14.2% of the increase in whole body VO2 at each of the three submaximal workloads after altitude training. Submaximal VO2 increased after chronic altitude training. Although ventilation increased post-altitude, the estimated metabolic cost of ventilation explained 11.0 - 14.2% of the VO2 increase. The source of the remaining submaximal VO2 change after altitude training remains unknown.

Implication. A large proportion of increased oxygen uptake after altitude acclimatization demonstrated in submaximal running tasks is due to the increased work of ventilation.

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