Training for altitude

I’m looking at doing a race in August that takes place at altitude (7500 feet). The event covers 100k and is mostly a rolling course. I live and ride around sea level.

With not much free time on my hands to go and do serious rides at altitude, what is the best way to train for an event that is higher up?

Consistently! :wink:

Seriously, I’m faced with the same dilemma living at sea level and training for Leadville this summer. There’s gimmicks like masks and tents to try and simulate the lack of oxygen at altitude, but I think the practicality of those are limitted at best.

The reality is that you need to train in a way maximizes your FTP and race specific needs at sea level, and simply accept that you’re only going to have some percentage of that available at altitude. For me, I’m headed to Leadville 2 weeks early to acclimate, and will bank on having ~85% of what I can do at sea level…

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I live in Iowa and have done the Pikes Peak challenge more than a couple times. I’ve learned from my mistakes, that being ‘time to acclimate’ to altitude and endurance. Give yourself at least a week, or you can try same day pending travel. At least for me, I started plugging in a lot more endurance efforts in a week (two 2+ hour rides during the week), sprinkled in with VO2 max. This formula worked for me, but there are probably other more experienced riders that can comment.

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Get as fit as you can, that’s it, but besides that I am not really sure if there is anything else you can really do in training at sea level to race in altitude. And no matter how fit you are, on race day pace yourself considering the altitude factor, no matter how easy the effort feels at the base of the climbs, remember the air will get thinner and you will feel it.

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They’ve talked about timing of arrival at altitude before an event on the podcast at one point. Some time around Leadville 2018. There was also the mention of a couple ways to predict the effect of power output at altitude. I have a spreadsheet for it, but it’s quite simple. There’s a TrainingPeaks article about it at

I have absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever but bear with me.

Altitude adaption is about producing more red blood cells, right?

Your body naturally produces red blood cells to maintain a certain proportion in relation to your blood plasma. Not sure on this point but I think that’s basically how you recover after donating blood.

One of the effects of heat adaption training is an increase in blood plasma volume.

So, if all these three things are correct, maybe you could get some kind of altitude adaptation by doing heat adaption training, sufficiently far in advance that your blood plasma volume increases and then your body has a chance to get the red cells back in balance?

Just a theory at this point.

Similar here. Live at sea level and like to travel to CO to ride. I’ve had mixed results. My first time was a failure as I went way to hard early. I got sucked up in the beautiful scenery and went too hard at the beginning of the first climb (5500ft) not realizing how much less air would be at 7500ft. Later efforts went better as I paced myself from the beginning.
I’m now training for a ride in Aug that will go up close to 11,000 ft. I’m following the advice above. Getting as fit and powerful as I can and then really pacing myself. I’m trying to increase FTP, lower weight a little and include long SS interval in my training. I’ve also added a 11-34 cassette to give me a couple of extra teeth for the steeper climbs.

I’ve actually read articles in the past that said riding in heat would help adapt to altitude - at least a little. Living in Texas that will be part of my summer training for sure.

I agree with JMM Heat training does have the same effect as altitude training. So turn the heater on when yoju are doing your trainer road w/o and drink lots of water with electrolytes.

what’s the verdict on Iron supplementation? I’ve heard it’s good, but also heard it can be toxic @swcreates @wbendus @tburk I also heard doing some extra vo2max before could help since you are basically slightly improving your ability to utilize oxygen. Will be there this august and coming from Flat Memphis

All great feedback. I knew I came to the right place. I’ll have to do all my training at sea level. Sadly my work/home schedule won’t allow me to get to the race venue more than a day before the event. But if I train now, but up my power and ride within myself on race day I should be good.