“Your attitude towards failure determines your altitude after failure.”


John Maxwell


 I’ve been tracking my oxygen saturation levels since 2010 when I go to altitude, more as a learning experiment than anything else. I went to some excellent presentations at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in the early 2000s and have always been interested in effects on the body when heading up for peak bagging trips , etc. While the original studies used medical  grade downloadable monitoring systems, I’ve just packed a portable pulse oximeter on trips and noted the rhythm of the changes.


This year when the Tempo crew went to Winter Park for the MTB Nationals,   We used Whoop as well and watched the respiratory rates, resting HR, and HRV.

We also charted  the current altitude  vs oxygen saturation as we moved higher each week  from 6000 feet to a final base altitude of 9,000 feet ( 2743 m) for the last week.


Each step took about 5-7 days to absorb, then the numbers would improve. If you go too hard  and dip into the anaerobic zones in these periods, you can really set yourself back, as I did following a superfit dude from Boulder up a climb at 11,000 feet the next weekend in Crested Butte. I haven’t had a episode of ”track hack “ like that since Track Nationals in 2012!


Some things to remember when going high-


  • Pick a strategy and stick with it.  Any of the longer strategies take patience.
  • Flying in the night before works quite well if it’s a one-off event. You’ll have about 24-36 hours max before your physiology will really be depressed
  • It takes a considerable amount of time ( months ) to actually adapt and raise the red blood cells and their oxygen- carrying capabilities . Think about doing a series of altitude camps.
  • Sauna Post- Workout is a viable strategy to increase blood plasma levels. Heat adaptation has an altitude crossover effect. I like to use this for 4-6 weeks before an event with athletes.
  • Make sure your diet has plenty of iron in it


Have a wonderful time at your higher -elevation events this summer!