High Altitude Training Promotes Endurence

©1993 NAOC TM NAOC 7-056

Good athletes on the highland

The high-altitude training produces an excellent athlete

The ability to exercise for a long time, like cross-country skiing and marathon, is called endurance.
Even if the athlete has a very high muscle strength, a good strategy, and a mental strength, winning the race never occurs without endurance.

The endurance is also important for the long-distance races such as swimming, bicycling, and rowing the boat.
The endurence increases when we live on the highlands with thin air.

It is the reason why people from Ethiopia and Kenya, the highlands in Africa, keep winning at track-and-field long distance.
Many students from these countries come to Japan to study and are running excellently in the marathon race.
Japanese Nordic combined golden age skiers, Ogiwara, Abe, Kawano, Mikata, Kodama, and also marathon winners, Arimori and Asari, all went out to the foreign highlands and carried out high-altitude training with careful planning to make excellent results.

Endurence overtakes tactics

Keep burning

The animal burns energy source and continues exercising. Oxygen is necessary for burning.

The more it borns, the more energy is produced and the longer exercise can be done.
Tactics and mental strength may be also important.
However they do not work without endurance that keeps high speed for a long time.

Oxygen is needed for endurance

Highland has little oxygen necessary for exercise

While much oxygen is necessary for endurance, why should they train in a highland with little oxygen?

Animals have the ability to adapt to the environment. There are the three principles of adaptation that Roux, French biologist, found.

The body of an animal becomes:

  1. weak if it is not used
  2. better if it is used
  3. broken if it is used too much

Exercising in highland with little oxygen makes the body take oxygen efficiently and increase the oxidative ability gradually.
This is the second principle and the the body becomes better and stronger.
However too much training with little oxygen may lead to the failure of health as the third principle shows.

Japanese Nordic combined team
High altitude training of Japan Nordic combined team

Every year, Japan Nordic combined team members live in the highland in Austrian Alps.

photo1The highland where Japanese team lives
Stock farm resort in the Austrian Alps
Crosscountry course at the top of the mountain.

Training on the glacier

Crosscountry training is performed on the glacier ski field.
Favorable altitude for trainig is 1300~3000 meters.
Japan Nordic combined team trains at 2600~2900 meters altitude.

photo 2Training scene of Japan Nordic combined team.

Blood sampling

Blood sample is taken from the skier's earlobe and checked if enough oxygen is taken in.
If the altitude is too high or oxygen in-take is insufficient, Roux's principle 3, “broken” may occurer in the athlete body.

photo3 Blood sampling of Japanese ski team member.

Low pressure, low oxygen chamber

Low air pressure or low oxygen chamber — similar to high altitude

Research on high altitude training is also done in the laboratory using low pressure chamber or low oxygen chamber.
In several countries these chambers are also used for the training of the athletes.