>> February 18, 2011
The idea of altitude training began in 1950's and flared up after the 1968 Mexico Olympics which lies at an altitude of 2,290m above the sea level where most athletes broke all types of record likes:
- Jim Hines became the first man to break 10s in the 100 metres.
- Tommie Smith broke the 20s barrier despite raised his arms 15m before the line.
- Again in the 400m, Lee Evans became the first man to break 44s barrier.
- Bob Beamon leapt 8.90m in the long jump, eclipsed the previous WR by 55cm.
- Olympic records at high jump, pole vault, shot put, javelin and hammer throw etc.
- 17 World records in track and field and so on.
|Controversial Ranau sports complex as MAAU training venue for SEAG|
For general overview about altitude training see the previous article
Benefits of altitude training
Training effects on metabolic and cardiovascular that occur at altitude are:
- Erythropoietin (EPO) inreased - stimulate more red cells production - carry more oxygen to muscles.
- Increase of submaximal heart rate and cardiac outputs - more volume of blood pumped by the heart (at one heartbeat)
- Elevated (increased) capillary volume - creating more blood pathways to muscle cell.
- Improve oxygenation - muscles activity will be more efficient and recovery time will be shorten.
- Body fluids more alkaline (because of less in carbon dioxide) - ability to buffer acid lactic (means lesser lactic at altitude).
- A higher volume of mitochondria - powerhouses in cells - generate ATP - more energy.
- An increase in the lungs' ability - exchange gases more efficient - every breath take more oxygen.
Question arises which types of sports or events that had the most benefit for altitude training? Distance runners? sprinters? jumpers? throwers? walkers? footballers? swimmers?
Well this is really dependent on the objective of altitude training or exposure. Runners who wish to improve the aerobic capacity may perform an altitude training stint. A pole vaulter who wish to break record may choose a competition that is held at altitude because the lower air resistant (e.g. Sergey Bubka WR 6.14m). A quarter-miler may use altitude training to improve the quality of sea level training. All athletes might need to get altitude exposure if the next important competition to be held at altitude (1968 U.S Olympic Trials at Echo Summit comes to mind).
Background of Ranau (as altitude training site)
Ranau is a district that located around 100km from the state capital, Kota Kinabalu. Ranau is known for its hilly geographic structure and has many wonderful places including the mount Kinabalu (4,095m). The average elevation of Ranau is not known but according to Sabah Tourism the place is at 1,176m above the sea level, whereby most probably measured at the town. The average temperature ranges from 16°C at night to 24°C in the day. Following is an estimate all-day temperature in Ranau:
02:00 A.M - 19°C 08:00 A.M - 20°C 02:00 P.M - 25°C 08:00 P.M - 19°C
|Awesome High Altitude environment at Mesilau Ranau (3,000m above sea level)|
Ranau has several potential sites for altitude training which are easily accessible from the main road. One of the sites is Kundasang that situated approximately 12 km from Ranau town with the altitude of 2,000m above the sea level (measured at Kundasang golf club) and is classified as moderate altitude.
Another potential site for altitude training is at Bundu Tuhan that located around 25km from Ranau town towards Kota Kinabalu. The altitude for Bundu Tuhan is around 1,770m above the sea level, also classified as moderate altitude.
Meanwhile, there is also a potential site for high altitude camp in Ranau. High altitude is specifically classified at any elevation from 2,500m to 3,500m from the sea level. With an altitude of 3,000m (average 2,700m - 3,300m), Mesilau is the most suitable and possible place for a high altitude training centre. It's situated near Kundasang, not far from the main road (Ranau - Kota Kinabalu), easily accessible and there are many lodges, hotels around.
High altitude is the best done with "live high - train low" method. This method will require you to live (not train) at an altitude area for at least 8 hours a day for 4-6 weeks long. During the period, the training is done at sea level or low altitude. The physiological changes is happened while you're exposed with the environment while living at altitude.
And what about the controversial Ranau Sports Complex (RSC)? RSC is located 8km from Ranau town with geographically awesome. It's surrounded by the crocker range at altitude of 780m (exactly measured at the main stadium). Since the elevation of Ranau sports complex is classified as low altitude, athletes would probably not gaining any physiological benefit (according to scientific findings) at there. However, the real benefit of
Ranau sports complex has the finest condition setting as a training ground for all sports. The cooler temperature (average of 21°C during training time, A.M & P.M), fresh air, and beautiful scenery will be the advantage for athletes to train harder on the high-demand workouts. Moreover, this kind of peaceful environment enable the athletes to get more comfortableness and subsequently maximize the training performances.
Quick tips for altitude training
- High altitude (2,500m - 3,500m) training shouln't exceed 4 weeks at one stay.
- The lower the altitude, the longer time we need to get the maximum benefit of altitude training.