Running at elevation

This morning I did my level 3 Jillian 30 day shred workout before work. When I got home from work I headed out for a 3.5 mile run at 10:00/mile pace. I just ran around on the roads around our house. It was one of those runs where you just kind of keep running around until you hit the distance you’re aiming for. The weather was a bit warmer today, getting up to 40 degrees, but it was still windy. I was able to run in shorts, though, which was nice. My legs need all the Vitamin D they can get. I realized today that I haven’t taken a complete rest day since February 17. I’ll finish the 30 day shred on Tuesday, which means next Friday will be my first complete rest day in quite some time!

Today I worked in a community called Burke’s Garden. It’s literally a little valley that sits like a bowl up in the mountains and it’s really pretty up there.

Burke’s Garden is actually the highest valley in Virginia, and sits at 3,100 feet. It’s nicknamed “God’s Thumbprint” and for good reason. Check out the aerial picture and you’ll see what I mean.

This community is where the Varmint 1/2 Marathontakes place, a race that is held every year in June. Barry and I ran it last year and had a good time, and are planning to run it again this year. It was a very challenging run, as it is very hilly and is run at elevation. We live at approximately 2300 feet, so I’m not sure how much effect the additional 700 feet had. The hills make the race so difficult, it’s hard to say if the additional elevation affected us or not.

I know my running was definitely affected when I went to Denver last summer for work. The fist thing I did when I got there was drop my bag at the hotel and go out for a run, and I paid for it. I spent the rest of the evening with a headache and nausea. Over the week, I adjusted, but all of my runs while I was there were challenging.

That’s an advertisement I saw on the side of a bus while I was in Denver. I thought it was pretty funny!

Do you live at a high or low elevation?

How much elevation change (either up or down) do you think we have to have before we feel an effect in our running?

Have you ever traveled somewhere that had a significant elevation change from where you live?

8 thoughts on “Running at elevation”

  1. When I moved to sea level (NJ) from Boulder, CO, it was SO EASY to run. Then when I went back to CO this winter, I tried to get a long run in (was aiming for 20 miles) I had to call it quits after 16. After a week I was fine and did a fantastic 18 miles. Then I cam back to Jersey and it was great to run at sea level again!

  2. Wow, that area is just gorgeous!! We live practically at sea level (600-ish feet). I haven’t even trained or race at altitude, but my husband does every year when he goes to the Xterra U.S. Nationals in Ogden, Utah. He does really suffer from it, but he doesn’t have the time to spend there to fully acclimate before the race.

    1. I know, I love going up there! It’s breathtaking… you can literally turn in a circle and the entire valley is ringed with mountains. You husband must be quite a trooper to keep going back each year to that race in Utah!

  3. Yeah, I agree with Amy and Jan…when I used to live in Colorado, running at sea level was SO EASY when I was on vacation or in school, but coming back to Colorado, it was as if someone had poured lead into my legs and fire into my lungs, ha. It always took me about a week to acclimatize.

    1. That is exactly how it feels to run at elevation! I was in Colorado for one week last July, I flew in on Sunday and flew home Friday afternoon. I felt almost normal during my Thursday evening run, but then it was time to go home.

    2. That’s why all the professional sports teams that come to play there suck oxygen when they are on the bench, ha. It’s crazy how relative it all is though, because even when I lived at 5,000+ feet, when I would go skiing and try to run at 8,000, I died, too. Over the summers, we climb 14ers (14,000 foot mountains) and by the time you get to the top, it’s like a slow slog and you feel like you just can’t catch you breath.

    3. I always think it’s so funny to see these big macho NFL guys sucking oxygen on the sidelines when they play the Broncos!That elevation change for skiing and mountain climbing sounds intense! I actually have family in Fort Collins and when we visited them they took us skiing/snowboarding at Copper Mountain.

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