Training at 2 Altitudes

I got lucky enough to get to train thru the winter, at 2 altitudes, M-F 1600 meters, and S-S at 3000 meters. I successfully completed a full high volume plan (SSB, SPB, XCM 10-15 hours a week, TSS between 600 & 800 most weeks) last year, but am concerned on how I should structure this winter, with Saturday and Sunday being the longer days. The work will all be indoors on a trainer. Things i am wondering…

  1. Ramp test at both altitudes?
  2. Evaluate using supplemental oxygen while training?
  3. Reduce effort by some % at 3000 m?
  4. Don’t worry about it beacause AT will make the workouts just right, because it might know the altitude?
  5. Perhaps just cross-train and cross country ski for the winter? Or do both?

Thoughts…

If it was me, I would take Saturday & Sunday off. Training at 3,000m / ~10K ft is going to really suck, especially as you won’t be adapted to this altitude. So expect ~15 - 20% drop in your FTP compared to sea level, and maybe 10 - 15% compared to 1,600m.

If you live at those altitudes at a 5:2 ratio as your training indicates, for the winter, and you currently reside and have been training around the lower of the two altitudes, I’d do as follows:

Test at 1600m.
Adjust by 10-12% for the higher altitude now.
Adjust by 6-7% less power for the higher altitude by mid-winter.
Move towards the lower adjustment percentage gradually over the first 6 weeks.

If you don’t live that high currently, test at the altitude you’ve been living at, and add roughly 1.9% adjustment for every 300m you live below each of the places you’ll be training at over the winter. Gradually reduce that absolute percentage scaling addition of 1.9% per 300m down to 1% per 300m by about 6 weeks in.

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That’s an impressive amount of riding indoors!

Your FTP will be about 10% lower at 3000m vs 1600, so you won’t be able to push as hard on the more intense workouts.

Sleep will also be worse at 3000m and you won’t be able to recover as well as at 1600m.

How about doing your hard rides at 1600m, and endurance-paced rides at 3000m?

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I think you are suggesting cutting my 1600m FPT by the suggested amount, when at the higher altitude. Is that right?

First thing in the morning makes it easy to get a workout in. Its dark outside anyways before I go to work and after family commitments are met for the day from now till spring. I’d prefer to ride outside, but that is not in the cards as much as I’d like. Endurance pace on the weekends is what I am leaning towards, thanks for the advice.

Not questioning this at all. Curious where you got these %s and guidelines? Research, experience, both?

Fat bike?

Correct.

Good question. Both.

There is pretty wide inter-individual variation that gets lost in the research averages in each study, so I (and all of us) are relegated to using roughly what are average altitude effects across the scientific literature.

These figures have tended to be reasonably good predictors of a few of my athletes’ performance abilities at altitude for races, or when moving to altitude. At least close enough that they can perform to their ability or above within their races/events by making decisions based off similar calculations.

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“VO(2max) declined linearly from 66+/-1.6 ml kg(-1) min(-1) at 300 m to 55+/-1.6 ml kg(-1) min(-1) at 2,800 m corresponding to a 6.3% decrease per 1,000 m increasing altitude (range 4.6-7.5%)”