Immediately following the races this weekend the ZAP team will head to training camp in Colorado Springs. Last summer was the first time the ZAP team did an altitude camp, and based on what we learned we are adjusting the timing a bit for the spring camp. For a variety of reasons, an altitude camp is not something we had explored at ZAP prior to 2021. However, with the nearly entire team being focused on fall marathons 2021 and spring marathons this year we’ve been able to take advantage of the thin(ner) air out west.
Training in Blowing Rock, we are accustomed to the moderate elevation of 3,000-4,000 feet, but for a focused period of time heading into a big race going up to 6,000 – 7,000 feet provides some additional benefits. In August we elected to go up to altitude earlier in the training cycle, returning to Blowing Rock approximately 6 weeks prior to the Chicago Marathon. This enabled us to get in most of the specific training in a familiar environment where we could measure training similarly to how we had in the past. And there is strong research showing that if you race more than 14 days removed from altitude you still garner a lot of physiological benefits.
The other good window to race after coming down from altitude is within the first few days. In doing an altitude camp for the first time last summer we didn’t want to come right off it and race. We wanted to see how everyone responded and have some time to do workouts on familiar terrain. Interestingly, the first long run the team had after returning from Colorado Springs August was within the first week back in Blowing Rock. It went very well for everyone, and that has made the athletes much more comfortable with doing the final 4-5 weeks of training at elevation during this training block.
The less tangible benefit to altitude camp is simply the focus and excitement created by traveling somewhere to train. As pro runners, their entire life is effectively a training camp so it may seem odd, but creating a unique experience geared toward improved performance gives the team an added edge when it comes their preparations.
Tristin Van Ord and Whitney Macon will depart Colorado and head straight for Rotterdam on April 6th, 4 days before the Rotterdam Marathon. Josh Izewski, Tyler Pennel, and Andrew Colley will stay in Colorado for another week, departing April 15th, 3 days prior to the Boston Marathon where they will compete along with Joanna Thompson.