Running at high altitudes is an adventure where all types of runners, pro level/ beginners alike, are expected to anticipate how their body is going to perform under conditions harsher and more challenging than usual. Even an elite marathoner needs to consider certain key elements before running at a high altitude marathon. Marathon training plan, Altitude training, Acclimatization, Hydration and diet are a few areas that need to be regarded before and during the marathon.
We’ll quickly run you through 6 useful running tips before you run for a High Altitude Marathon.
PRACTICE MAKES THE MARATHON PERFECT
The difference between an ordinary and an extraordinary marathon is practice. Especially if it’s held at a greater elevation. Lay out a proper workout and marathon training plan days before the actual marathon and be consistent in your training. Note down your daily mileage & running distance and gradually start increasing your weekly mileage. Remember you’re training at sea level, it’s going to get harder for the body to run the same distance at higher altitudes. Maintaining a running log during your marathon training will help you anticipate how your body will feel after covering certain kms at elevation.
HILLS ARE THE BEST TRAINING GROUND
Do some fact-finding and research about the marathon course in advance. The course will mostly comprise of uphill and downhill path, so it will be beneficial if you could include a hill workout or hill sprint training in your marathon training plan. Train in harsh conditions, because the body is going to run in harsh conditions with diminished oxygen levels. Practice running courses with sharper turns or uphill & downhill slopes where the body has to work harder to stay cool and maintain consistent breathing. The key is to mock the course and its conditions. If you don’t have access to a hilly region, try stairs or any other ‘no-hill-training’ programs.
THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM
Remember, higher altitudes mean lower concentration of oxygen per breath. Your heart and lungs end up working much harder to deliver oxygen to the muscles and the body produces more oxygen-carrying red blood cells. But the body requires time to undergo this process. It is advisable to get to your marathon destination early and give yourself ample time to acclimatize to higher altitudes.
FUEL THE FIRE
Your body perspires twice as much moisture at higher altitudes than it does at sea level. So, Ensure that you stay hydrated by consuming a lot of water and also electrolytes to regulate your body’s water balance while running. It is also advisable to boost your carbohydrate intake because the body is working extra hard at altitudes which means it requires extra energy for the effort. Water and carbohydrate intake will help prevent fatigue, dehydration and AMS from setting in.
SLOW & STEADY WINS THE RACE
Don’t time yourself here. You might finish the same running distance earlier at sea level. But, you will take a lot more time to cover the same distance at a high altitude marathon. Don’t chase the speed. Monitor the effort. Chase the finish line, at your own pace, breathing consistency and level of perceived exertion & effort. Your marathon training will determine all these factors for you.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
Lastly, don’t forget to look around. Absorb the magical fresh air and live in the moment. Who knows when will be the next time you’ll be running around the mountains and the valleys again.
High altitude marathons are the ultimate adventure rush for both pro level and beginner level runners alike. The adrenaline rush is not only accompanied by spectacular views but also an opportunity to witness your body accomplish a new feat at elevated altitudes.
Here's your chance to break out of your comfort zone & participate in one of the highest marathons in India, this June.