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Before we break down a few basics of altitude training, lets highlight three tiers of elevation most relevant for cyclists .
Since altitude training is a varied topic with no “one-size-fits-all” solution , your first step is to assess how practical it is in the first place.
Once you’ve asked that question, you’ll likely find yourself in one of the four camps below.
1: Spending time at altitude before my event isn’t really an option.
Your best bet might be to include heat acclimation (HA) into your training, aiming for improved performance at sea-level via the cross-adaptation principle .
In addition to heat training, make sure to utilize high intensity efforts to boost your VO2max in the lead-up to your event.
If you’re training for an event held at elevation, a sea-level training boost to your aerobic system should help to offset declines in VO2max brought on by altitude .
2: I could probably get to my event at elevation a bit early.
The follow-up question is how early?
The best case scenario sees you arriving at elevation at least two weeks prior to your event. If you can’t make that work, just get there as early and as fit as possible .
3: I could spend some time at elevation throughout the year.
Excellent. Research suggests that both short (3-4 days)  and long (2+ weeks)  stints at altitude may improve your performance at sea level  in addition to helping you acclimate more rapidly to an event held at altitude .
The positive impact of accumulated days at altitude explains why some of the top endurance athletes spend over 60 days a year training at altitude [3, 10].
In short, if you have the opportunity to spend multiple days at altitude, without making too many compromises to the rest of your training, go for it! .
4: I live at elevation!
Living at altitude is great, but it comes at the cost of not being able to train as intensely as you could if you lived closer to sea level .
The wattage throttling effect of altitude is why you might benefit from planning your most intense training for time spent near sea level.
This concept of living at elevation, and training intensely closer to sea level is known as “Live High, Train Low” (LHTL) .
Like other training strategies, your body’s ability to adapt to conditions at altitude is underpinned by smart nutrition .
Here are two basics of nutrition to consider before spending time at elevation.
Get enough Iron
If you’re wanting the best bang for your buck from time spent at altitude, make sure you have enough iron in your blood before you head to higher elevation .
Start by talking with your doctor and seeing if you can check your iron levels, then make sure you’re eating enough iron-rich foods (or possibly supplementing if advised) in the weeks before and during your time at altitude .
Eat and drink more
Since your appetite is generally suppressed at altitude , insure you’re eating adequate carbohydrate and protein even if you’re not feeling hungry .
In addition to eating more, make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, as the demands of altitude can lead to rapid dehydration .
In short, if your fueling and hydration strategy at elevation looks the same as your strategy for training near sea level, you’re setting yourself up for trouble.
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