This is what the altitude training camp at Flagpole looks like
Globally, many elite runners spend weeks training at altitude and sleeping at altitudes of at least 1,800 meters due to the positive effects on performance. The same goes for the Valley Running Team Among others, Diane Van Ess, Maureen Coster, Tony Van Dieben and Bart von Nunen. They left on April 5 for a month in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA, to train at an altitude of over 2000 meters. The group goes to altitude training four times a year to give their bodies an altitude boost, and Flagstaff is one of their favorite destinations. We’re curious about what such high-altitude training will be like, so we asked their trainer, Great Cones, what the coming weeks will look like.
Benefits of training at altitude
Before we look at the training camp in Flagstaff, let’s look at the benefits of training at altitude. Because why do so many top runners go up multiple times a year? In short: during altitude training, the body is forced to adapt to ‘less oxygen’ above 1,800 meters. We put this in quotes because the air actually has more oxygen than in the Netherlands. The big difference with our frog country is that it is more difficult to absorb body height due to the different air pressure. This makes training at altitude temporarily difficult, but once back at sea level, the body can digest the effort much more easily. Additionally, the body is trained to operate at altitude, where oxygen is scarce. Read about the positive effects of training at altitude here.
Why practice climbing a flagpole?
Around the same time in April every year, the Valley Running Team heads to Flagstaff for altitude training, but the altitude isn’t the only reason this small American college town is so popular with athletes. According to trainer Great Coens, the US – unlike Europe – has some good early-season competition with which they can fully integrate altitude training. The strength facilities are also good, the athletics track is close by and the athletes can easily go to the athletics track at ‘only’ 1000m and run at high speed. After all, everything is heavy in height. ‘But it’s also nice to be in America,’ says Goens.
Get used to jet lag
The only downside is jet lag. The team had to bridge the nine-hour time difference, which took at least six days to get used to. Plus, it takes a week to adjust to the altitude, but it goes faster and faster after several altitude training sessions,’ says Goens.
What is a training week like at Flagstaff?
The team trains twice a day except once. Coach Goens usually schedules a day off somewhere during the training period where the runners can do something fun, but generally it’s standard training. Fortunately, there is enough time for a nap in between, but athletes need it more than anything else. According to Coens, a training cycle looks like this:
- Day 1: The team starts the training cycle with an endurance in the morning and in the afternoon they work on technique and speed with sprints.
- Day 2: In the morning they do a total of 30 minutes of interval training, usually in 3 minutes, for example 10 times 3 minutes at the door with a minute break: a pace you can maintain for an hour. In the afternoon they run with extra stamina.
- Day 3: They do endurance running in the morning and strength training in the afternoon.
- Day 4: In the morning they do a track workout with short intervals at race pace and an endurance run in the afternoon.
- Day 5: They do endurance running in the morning and strength training in the afternoon.
- Day 6: In the morning they take a long walk at the sub-door. This pace roughly corresponds to marathon pace, for example 5 times 6 minutes with a 2 minute break.
- Day 7: A long run
- And again!
How many kilometers per week do fence running team runners run on average?
And volume? Coens: ‘It depends on how far one distances themselves. A long-distance runner like Diane van Es averages 140 to 150 kilometers per week, but an 800-meter runner like Tony van Dieben runs 70 to 80 kilometers per week. A marathon runner runs 170 to 180 kilometers per week. Additionally, it depends on the training age. ‘I allowed a young athlete to train fewer kilometers than an athlete with many years of training.’
Want everything Low cost plan
In the Netherlands, runners get the same amount of training, but training at altitude has another benefit – apart from the altitude. That is peace! ‘They don’t have to go to school or work and the social life is a bit poorer. It gives them more rest and improves the quality of their training,’ says Goens. And if you thought that those at the top were showered with luxury, you’d be wrong. They go to altitude training four times a year, but have to do everything Low cost plan. ‘We are not sponsored as a team, so the athletes pay for everything themselves.’
A Runner’s Diet in America
America is of course best known for its drippy, greasy burgers and liters of cola, but the group itself doesn’t care. ‘We think good nutrition is very important, so we always cook for ourselves. “In the past we sometimes ate on campus, but it was a lot of salt and fat,” says Goens. Everything is heavy during altitude training and the energy needs of top runners are high. That’s why the team has six meals a day. It’s mainly healthy food, but the athletes That doesn’t mean snacking isn’t allowed. Coens: ‘As long as your body feels good after training, you’re not getting your calories from sweets or chips and you’re replenishing your energy reserves, you can eat a bag of chips. We want to make it convenient.’
The Valley Running Team consists of Frank Futzeler, Bram Andersen, Tony Van Dieben, Maureen Koster, Bart Van Nunen, Jesse Folkenrud, Diane Van Es, Mahadi Abdi Ali, Benjamin De Haan and Lars Van Hoven. With the exception of Frank and Ben, the entire team spent April 5 to May 9 training at altitude in Flagstaff. Good luck!
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