21 January 2014

Altitude effect on running compared to cycling

One of the really good sources for news and updates on ultrarunning is Ultrarunnerpodcast. Today they provided a link to an interesting post from Alex Hutchinson in Runner's World about how altitude affects running compared to cycling. There are planned efforts by Fabian Cancellara to set a new 1-hour distance record in cycling, beating Sosenka’s record of 49.7 kilometers from 2005. Quite surprisingly, it would according to the post be more beneficial to do this at such a high elevation as 3000 meters. In running, the classical paper by Péronnet  and colleagues entitled “A theoretical analysis of the effect of altitude onrunning performance” published in J Appl Physiol  1991; 70:399-404, clearly shows that  even for such a short distance as 800 meters an increase in altitude would be disadvantageous (see figure). It would be interesting to compare endurance long-distance cycling with ultrarunning with regards to the same theoretical perspective of altitude.

From Péronnet et al. J Appl Physiol 1991; 70: 399-404

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