Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday Live high train low.

Recovery run- very light effort.
I was going to leave today's post at that boring little nugget.. but I'll write a little more.
I set my alarm this morning for 5:30 and my eyes snapped awake at 4:58. I had been dreaming of maps. Google maps to be exact and the satellite images you can view of trails. Not sure where the map was that I had in the dream but it shook me from sleep. I woke up amped to go running. 4:58am and the urge to go run was overwhelming... it was flowing through me and giving me energy like that first cup of coffee. I took my resting pulse- 56 beats. Good for me as I've never seen anything lower than 51. My highest resting HR I've ever seen was over 100. I always say that my resting HR is higher because I never rest. Even when I sleep my mind is flying, days off from training are spent doing as much as I can possibly fit in to a day. Sitting still interests me little.

I am in the middle of reading a research paper on the effects of altitude training... pretty much everything there is to know on altitude training really! It's pretty scientific with lots of formulae and big words that I don't need. I could write a lot on what I learned but I doubt too many people are truly interested in reading about living at high altitude and it's effects. One thing though- there are "responders" and "non-responders" to the effects of high altitude. The non-responders experience an immediate EPO response to living at 8000ft, then their EPO levels return to near normal after 4 weeks. The last time I had my hematocrit tested I was at 49%, one tick below being banned from pro cycling. I'm interested to see what my response to living here has been so I have scheduled a physical and blood tests with my doctor. My doctor hates me. I can tell. Every time I go in I challenge him on the latest research and I also question nearly everything he says.. I go in armed with knowledge and he doesn't like it. I can tell he just wants me to leave. We're at the point now where I simply tell him what I want and he says "OK". The first time I went in to him I was concerned that I had anemia because I was so fatigued. I told him that I had "only" trained 30 hours the week before and that I should not be tired from just that... he nearly shit. He said that I should be tired, that was too much exercise. I plainly stated that if he was going to tell me how to do my job then I would tell him how to do his... we've been on uneasy ground ever since. In a weird way, I sort of enjoy the tension. He was right and I was wrong by the way... So blood work to see which category I am in, responder or non. The thing I am most interested in is my response to Vo2 max stimulation at high altitude. And by the way- "high altitude" is considered 8000ft and above. "Low" altitude is considered 4000ft.. of which there is no known benefit to training. One thing I am most curious about- something I have questioned since I read it- is that Vo2 max is diminished by roughly 1% every 330ft above 5000ft elevation. So if my Vo2 max is lower, can I more easily stimulate it? Or would the muscle dysfunction associated with the lower pressure be linear and make it just as difficult to obtain Vo2 max? I don't think so simply because alactic efforts are not affected by altitude.
Another interesting thing is the "oxygen cascade" or the path of the oxygen from your mouth to to your mitochondria. There's something called "hypoxic ventilatory response" or HVR. This is a response by the body when it sense that Po2 (partial pressure) is reduced. The chemorecpetors in the carotid bodies sense the diminished pressure and stimulate the respiratory center in your brain to increase ventilation. One factor that determines performance at altitude is the lungs ability to empty, thereby allowing more oxygen in to the alveoli of the lungs. If you can expire more, you'll take in more. This response is the difference between mountaineers needing or not needing oxygen on Mount Everest. HVR though is not an accurate indicator for performance. As are most scientific studies... they all seem so vague. And at the same time- an athlete with blunted HVR shows a lower metabolic cost, which is a good thing. Interesting though, nonetheless.
Metabolism at high altitude is another aspect that I am very interested in. I have leaned WAY up since I've been here. I have veins in my stomach and my body fat has plummeted. My diet is always good so that hasn't changed. What has changed is my ability to store glycogen, I think. I'll have to read more on that. Chopping wood may be helping? Maul has been a hard ass on me the past 2 days. He's my "Wilson"... although he's not cuddly like a volleyball, he speaks to me anyway..


Dave said...

Great insight! And I definately think most of your visitors here would love to hear more about that research paper...Don't keep it all to yourself man!

Maybe I'm just jealous because I live at about 10 feet above see level...

BRFOOT said...

First and foremost, as someone who cuts and splits about 8 cords/yr. NEVER EVER let your maul talk back to you. Beat that bastard senseless.

Here are some links to some abstracts of articles that may interest you.
The mumbo jumbo factor is high, be warned, but interesting. except the last one which kind of counters the 1st one, not intentionally though.
Bottem line nobody knows anything, it's all an illusion :) http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/79/1/222




Lucho said...

Brfoot- I split and cut about 8.1 cords of wood a year.. Just kidding.
I'm loving the maul.. We don't have a truck or else I would be going crazy with it. I'm not quite on your level yet- Darth still tries to push me around.
A lot of what I have read from the scientific community on altitude seems pretty unreliable. I think what I am learning the most is that each person is completely unique in how they react to altitude. I tend to pay attention to anecdotal evidence too- like Ryan Hall the Kenyans and Easteropians. Thanks for the links!

Dave- There's a lot of interesting stuff in the paper I'm reading, I'll try to write more..

uli said...

"I go in armed with knowledge and he doesn't like it. I can tell he just wants me to leave. We're at the point now where I simply tell him what I want and he says "OK"."

That's funny shit, LOL. I can totally relate. I recently had a calf injury and am visiting a PT practice. They have several PT that alternate working on me. Most of them do a great job for which I am very grateful.
However, first time I meet them it's always "you need shoes with heel support!", "you should wear orthotics!", "you have to stretch before running!", "you should swim instead of running", "does your back really never hurt?". It's SO funny. I really appreciate their work on my calf but they ain't know shit about running. And don't get me started about the "doctor" I had to see at first. I basically told him what I have and he agreed. He said "you should stick to walkking for a while". at least with that he was right. :)

kfeilteau@hotmail.com said...

Have you ever had your adrenals tested?

Lucho said...

K- I have not.. Can you explain the benefit of doing that? What would I be looking for or what would be the purpose? I could Google it but maybe others can learn from your response..

Uli- Yep... I hear you man.

Josh said...


Doctors in our culture are not used to being challenged. People have this weird behavior toward doctors thinking that the doc knows all. I saw it with my mom when my grandmother was sick and the doctor made a comment saying, "she is on the fence". My mom didn't understand in what context she was on the fence and was too timid to ask him to explain. That bummed me out.
The only way to learn and hopefully obtain better health care for yourself is to question and challenge. If the doc doesn't want to answer your questions or appreciate what you bring to the table and possibly learn from you there are other docs out there. I like your style brotha.



Josh said...

Oh, and speaking of high altitude science, the science is not great or maybe I should say somewhat inconclusive due to the fact that there is such heterogeneity in how people respond to altitude.