Showing posts with label SPORTS PHYSIOLOGY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SPORTS PHYSIOLOGY. Show all posts

The Facts of Altitude Training in Ranau, Sabah

>> 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.
NOTE: M. Jegathesan clocked 20.92s at 200m during the 1968 Mexico Olympics. The time is notable for the fact that no Malaysia has yet been able to equal it, and has stood as the Malaysian record for more than four decades now.

Controversial Ranau sports complex as MAAU training venue for SEAG
The air is thinner at higher altitude enables athletes to sprint faster, jump higher, throw further etc. However the only problem about altitude training is that the topic has been heavily baffled by beliefs concerning its effects rather than a rational to understand of what really occurred (physiological changes) because of exposure to altitude training.

For general overview about altitude training see the previous article

Benefits of altitude training 

Training effects on metabolic and cardiovascular that occur at altitude (training) are:
  • Erythropoietin (EPO) increases - more red cells production stimulated - 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 - creates 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.
Which sports or athletes who would get the benefits?

This is typical question by many people. Which sports or events that can have the most benefit from altitude training? distance runners? sprinters? jumpers? throwers? walkers? footballers? swimmers?

The question is not fully elaborated so the answer would be not that simple. However the best answer might be this, "depend on the specific objective or aim". Hence, a runner 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 due to 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, and it was 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 (near Kundasang and some other places):

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 (6560ft above sea level)
Altitude training in Ranau, Sabah

Ranau has several potential sites for altitude training in which are easily accessible from the main road. One of the sites is at Kundasang, a small town (part of Ranau) that situated approximately 12 km from Ranau town, located at altitude (average) of 1,600m above the sea level (2,000m at Kundasang golf club) and this place could be classified moderate altitude.

Another potential site for altitude training is at Bundu Tuhan that located around 30km from Ranau town towards Kota Kinabalu. The altitude for Bundu Tuhan is around 1,770m above the sea level, also classified  moderate altitude.

High altitude meanwhile is specifically classified at any elevation of 2,500m to 3,500m from the sea level. In Ranau, the highest altitude is surely 4,095m (peak of mount Kinabalu), and there are surely many accessible areas at lower altitudes, that can be utilized for running training. For instance, with altitude (average) of over 2000m, Mesilau Plateau may be suitable and a possible place for runners who would like to experience training at higher altitude. This area is situated around Kundasang, not far from the main road (Ranau - Kota Kinabalu) or the Kundasang town, easily accessible and there are many lodges, hotels around (Kundasang town).

High altitude is probably best done with "live high - train low" method. This method will require you to live (not training) at an altitude area for at least 8 hours a day (night, sleep time) for 4-6 weeks long. During the period, the training is done at sea level or low altitude. The physiological changes can occur while you're exposed with the environment when living at altitude.

How about at Ranau Sports Complex (RSC)? 
RSC is located  8km from Ranau town and geographically awesome. This place is surrounded by the crocker range and situated at altitude of 780m or 2560ft (measured exactly 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) from training at there. However, the real benefit of altitude training at this place may be environmental.

RSC has the finest condition setting as a training ground for all sports. The cooler temperature (average of 21°C during standard training times, A.M &  P.M), fresh air, and beautiful scenery and so on would be the advantages for athletes as these conditions may allow the athletes to push the body to a greater extend than that of training at less favorable places or conditions. The peaceful environments can also promote mind and physical comfort and this will surely elevate the training readiness and performance.

Quick notes for altitude training
  • High altitude (2,500m - 3,500m) training shouldn't exceed 4 weeks at one stay.
  • The lower the altitude, the longer time we need to get the maximum benefit of altitude training.
note: photos from unknown sources / original owners.


Altitude Training - Benefits, Methods, Guidelines, Training Sites

>> February 07, 2011

Without getting into very details (because I'll continue to cover the rest in the future), this post will provide only the general illustration regarding altitude training.

One of the reasons for altitude training is to increase the hormone synthesis  (i.e. erythropoietin) to stimulate more red blood cells. The main function of red cells is to carry oxygen from lungs to the tissues and organs.

When the body has more red blood cells, higher oxygen delivery can be effectively transported and this will result in an enhancement of aerobic respiratory, e.g. maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 Max). The improvement in the value of VO2 Max can be translated into an improvement of aerobic or endurance capacity as well as anaerobic capacity.

How do you define altitude?

Altitude is defined as 'height above the sea level' as follow:
1) Low Altitude: Up to 1500 metres
2) Moderate Altitude: 1500 to 2500 metres
3) High Altitude: 2500 to 4000 metres
4) Very High Altitude: 4000 to 5500 metres
5) Extremely High Altitude: Above 5500 metres
+ Death Zone: 8,000 metres (human cannot acclimatize)

Duration of altitude training

Normally, duration of altitude training depends on the height of altitude, training methods, purposes etc.. However, there is some guide to follow. The higher the altitude, the lesser the time needed for altitude training. Based on many findings, for an altitude of 2,500 m, the concentration of erythropoietin in blood will increase during the first day of altitude exposure and continue to rise up to 3rd weeks. It will then reaches the plateau state during the 4th week. Hence, 3-4 weeks could be the ideal duration at high altitude.

Method of Altitude Training.

1) Live High - Train High
The period of time to stay at altitude for this method might be shorter because athletes would get a chronic exposure to high altitude. However, many findings suggested that this method will lead to a 'detraining'.

2) Live Low - Train High
Very seldom used. An athlete would only expose to high altitude for a few hours during training. But again, training at altitude has the negative impact on the training qualities, especially fast and hard efforts.

3) Live High - Train Low
Most effective and commonly used. This method allows a maximum intensity of training and athletes would get enough exposure to high altitude (at least 8 hours). However, this method requires athletes to stay at high altitude for at least 8 hours a day for about 3 to 4 weeks.

Guidelines of altitude training

Swiss scientist, Manuel Bueno recommends the following guidelines for altitude training:

Phase 1: Recovery, 2-3 rest days at sea level prior to departure
Phase 2: Acclimatization, 3-6 days light training after arrival at altitude
Phase 3: Training with increasing loads (14 - 16 days). In the first phase purely aerobic endurance training, in the second phase a return to usual sea level training.
Phase 4: Recovery, the last 2 days at altitude

High load of workouts should be avoided during the first week after returning to sea level.The first important competition should be 2 to 3 weeks after the last day of altitude training.

International Sites for Altitude Training (just to name a few)

1) 2,700 metres - Toluca, Mexico
2) 2,644 metres - Bogota, Colombia
3) 2,561 metres - Cuenca, Ecuador
4) 2,400 metres - Iten, Kenya
5) 2,365 metres - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
6) 2,300 metres - St. Cugat, Barcelona & Spain
7) 2,130 metres - Flagstaff, Arizona United States
8) 2,000 metres - New Mexico, United States
9) 2,050 metres - Sestriere, Italy
10) 1,950 metres - Kesenoi-Am, Russia
11) 1,900 metres - La Loma, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
12) 1,850 metres - Font Romeu odeillo, France
13) 1,800 metres - Kunming, China
14) 1,748 metres - Johannesburg, South Africa
15) 1,675 metres - Nairobi, Kenya
16) 1,600 metres - Secunda, South Africa
17) 1,550 metres - Davos, Switzerland
18) 1,400 metres - Pretoria, South Africa
19) 1,392 metres - Bloemfontein, South Africa
20) 1,360 metres - Thredbo Village, Australia

Potential sites for altitude training in Malaysia

Kundasang Ranau at Sabah located at 1600m (average) above sea level

1) 1,600 metres - Kundasang, Ranau, Sabah
2) 1,770 metres - Bundu Tuhan, Ranau, Sabah
3) 2,000 metres - Mesilau, Sabah
4) 1,500 metres - Cameron Highland (Kea Farm), Pahang

Recommended readings:  
High Altitude Medicine and Physiology 
High Altitude Illness & Wellness
Training Mask Elevation High Altitude Mask for Athletes 
East African Running: Toward a Cross-Disciplinary Perspective
Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance 


Energy System In Track and Field

>> August 28, 2010

Firstly, I won’t go into very detail as I know everyone out there are prefer the simplest way to gain information. Thus I'll try to explain as simple as possible so that people at all levels will get the points.

Basically, three types of energy system sources:

1. ATP-PCr system
2. Glycolytic system
3. Oxidative system

And what the heck all these?!

ATP-PCr : An Immediate energy, is said to be Anaerobic as it can operate
with or without oxygen. Every breakdown of ATP-PCr will produce energy.

Glycolytic: A system that produces ATP (energy) from glycolysis (eg: CHO).
Doesn't require Oxygen, so it’s referred to the process of anaerobic (lactic

Oxidative: The Aerobic system. Utilize oxygen in the production of ATP. As
oxygen is used, this is an aerobic process.

These energy systems make a contribution in all types of activities. However one or two will be predominant.

As an example, in the 100meters, the ATP-PCr is the predominant energy system, but both the glycolytic and oxidative systems provide a small portion of the energy needed.

On the other hand, in the 10,000m, the oxidative system is predominant but both ATP-PCr and Glycolytic systems contribute.

Table below is an estimate of percentage (%) contribution of energy system in Track and Field events.

Hoffman, J. (2002). Physiological Aspects of Sports Training and Performances. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Jack H. Wilmore, David L. Costill. (2004). Physiology of Sport and Exercise (Third ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch, Victor L. Katch. (2010). Exercise Physiology (Nutrition, Energy and Human Performances (Seventh ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott William & Wilkins.

Recommended reading:  
 Sport Physiology for Coaches
Physiology of Sport and Exercise, Fourth Edition 
Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance 
Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance



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