High-Altitude Exercise


I have recently been wondering why exercising here in Colorado is so much more difficult than it was in Alabama.

For example, when we were in Dauphin Island, I ran nearly a 10 mile run. Well actually it was only 8.98 miles (I keep track of all my activities in Runkeeper). But it was the farthest I had ever ran before. Awesome mile stone achievement for me. Running along the beach for the first time too! That was most likely the motivator that got me to do it.

Now we are up in Colorado Springs. The day after we arrived I tried going for a run and it nearly killed me. I ran 1.62 miles and was completely out of breath the majority of the run. I’ve always heard ‘there is less oxygen at high altitude’. So I just figured that was my problem, my body just wasn’t used to this elevation yet.

Fast forward a week. I just went for a run and did 3.10 miles. Now yes I did double my last mileage amount, but not very gracefully. So this has made me wonder what is going on?

After a quick google search I have found my answer from Active.com

“It’s not the lack of oxygen that makes your body work so hard at altitude. It really has to do with the barometric pressure. Even at 10,000 feet, there is still 29 percent oxygen in the air, and out of that 29 percent you only take in around 10 percent of the oxygen you breathe. The big challenge is your ability at altitude to extract the oxygen and get it into your bloodstream at altitude.”

If you read on in that article, it basically says my body needs to make more red blood cells. Which then has all sorts of other benefits than just being able to go for a jog out here.

I will just keep training and my body should adapt to being in the high altitude. Easier said than done! But it does sound like the benefits could be worth the work.

Julie, Colorado Springs, CO