I would love to hear other's thoughts on racing at high altitude. Any tips from past experience that may help? This is a fairly common question (problem) but Dave's question speaks specifically to a 10 day pre-race block.
Question from Dave: I want to do the UROC 100K in Breckenridge, CO on 9/28/13. Problem is I live and train at sea level near San Francisco.
Going to make a vacation out of UROC by heading up for some altitude acclimatization while watching several friends race IM Lake Tahoe the week before (staying @ 5000ft, running @ 6000-8000 feet for 5 days) , then drive (2 days) to Breckenridge with arrival 3 days before my event (staying @ 9600 feet with all Breckenridge training runs/hikes at as high as I can get ~11K-12K). The big unkonwn for me is the altitude.
Will going up to 6000 ft @ Tahoe help all that much for a race at 9000-12000 feet 10 days later? I've never run above 8000 feet before.
My answer: I like this question. Essentially will 5 days at ~6k and then 5 days at 9k+ altitude be beneficial. We'll answer this on the podcast on Wednesday... but the short answer is definitely.
The #1 thing you have to do though is not cook yourself. Recovery will be diminished and even a moderate effort will fatigue you more than you're used to- and at altitude that fatigue just hangs around. The first ~1-2 days you'll feel fine and then the altitude is going to slowly affect you, it will have a cumulative effect. If you push the training then you'll likely be in a hole for UROC. But if you relax and don't over do it then you'll gradually feel better and better.
Of course there's a significant genetic component here. If you're a 'responder' then you'll do well. If you're a 'non-responder' then you won't acclimate as quickly. That's something that you will find out.
I would also highly recommend increasing your carbohydrate intake, particularly immediately following workouts. I've lived at 8200+ft altitude now for close to 5 years and this is possibly my #1 rule for recovery (outside of not doing runs that I can't recover from) Your metabolism is going to very readily prefer CHO at any bump in effort, so you'll deplete more quickly. Remember that V02 and LThreshold are significantly lower especially above ~7800ft. A typical recovery intake for me is ~1 liter of water + 40-50g of CHO (Gatorade works well) in the 30:00 post run. Also the air is going to be dry and you'll lose fluid due to respiration alone, hydrate well but don't over do it. A rough guide is to pee every ~2 hours (this is speaking to the time that you'll be in Breck), in Tahoe you may not see a big difference from where you live now, but still pay attention. The more time you spend at altitude, with smart training, the better. It's much better than not spending any time at altitude.
I would also tell you to place a strong focus (~7 sessions in the 12 weeks leading up) on V02 max and try to really make sure you strengthen this before heading up. Also getting lean, get your diet lined out and get body fat % as low as you safely can. At 9000+ ft every pound of useless weight you carry is going to be significantly harder to carry... plus it's a waste of blood/ O2. T