>Gears and Wears>altitude training masks
This morning a friend of mine told me he bought an altitude training mask to help him train for the Lake Placid IM.
Do these things really work?
I believe I read somewhere that, although the masks do indeed restrict your oxygen making training more difficult, it's really not the same as the air at high altitude. I thought the difference was in the fact that the air composition at high altitudes was different than at sea level.
Does it just restrict airflow or actually reduce the content of the inhaled oxygen? The latter may be useful. I would not think the former would do much for one other than irritate them.
Training with such a device serves a purpose in making one get used to the stress of running with low oxygen. But the real results come from time exposure to low oxygen -- living or at least sleeping in a low oxygen environment.
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Not an expert, but the benefits of altitude training primarily resolve around convincing your body to produce a lot of extra red blood cells to more efficiently gather oxygen in the blood stream. As spaniel mentioned your body needs to pretty much be looking for that extra oxygen 24/7 for your body to really respond to produce the extra red blood cells.
When going to higher altitudes for my hunting trips, the key is to get up there a few days before you actually need to give it an all out effort. A couple easy days of scouting and sleeping at altitude. That's how the mountaineering folks do it. Get acclimatized to the higher levels going at easy efforts for a few days before making another push.
On the reverse side, for sure dropping down in altitude gives a boost for a few days, but it tends to be pretty short lived as well. If you were training at altitude, you would want to get down to lower elevation and compete as soon as possible before your body recycled all the extra red blood cells.
My 2 cents, probably not worth 1/2 that.
Age: 45 Weight: 208 Height: 6'2" (Goal weight 195)
Current PR's: Mara 3:48:09; HM 1:43:26; 10K 44:51; 5K 21:27
My question is; why would he need it for Lake Placid? I really wouldn't call that high elevation.
My understanding is these masks just restrict air flow. They don't actually change the oxygen content. You can get different amounts of restriction based on the mouthpiece.
I suppose one benefit of such a mask is to "force" you to run easy on your easy days. If you seriously restrict your oxygen, you're more likely to take it extra easy. But, now here in the midwest we have the heat and humidity doing that for us.
I won't be buying one any time soon. Seems to me you could get the same affect with one of those masks that painters and construction workers wear, and you only look a fraction of the dork.
My bad... Lake Tahoe (a different friend is doing Lake Placid)
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