4 High-Altitude Training Tips for Runners

Running at high altitudes can be a game-changer for your endurance and overall performance. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner training for your next race, or a fitness enthusiast looking to step up your game, training at high altitudes offers unique benefits and challenges. Today, we’ll cover essential training tips for runners to help you master high-altitude running and efficiently prepare for events like the Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins, home of the 2023 and 2024 RRCA State Marathon Championship. Let’s get started!

Female running on a tree-lined street

#1- Acclimate to the New Altitude

Whether you live in the same state as a high-altitude race but at a lower altitude, or you’re traveling to run a race at a higher altitude, acclimatization is paramount to the body’s physical response and ability to perform efficiently in a new environment. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during this phase.

Give Yourself Time

Adjusting to high altitudes requires time. Your body needs to adapt to the lower oxygen levels and higher elevation. If you’re running a high-altitude marathon and coming from out of town, plan to arrive at least a few days to a week before your race or training to give yourself adequate time to acclimate.

Be Aware of Altitude Sickness Symptoms

Knowing the symptoms of altitude sickness can save you from serious health issues. Common symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. If you experience any of these, take a break and allow your body to recover.

#2 – Stay Hydrated

Hydration is crucial at high altitudes, especially if you’re coming to run the Colorado Marathon from another state at or below sea level. Here are some training tips for runners to stay hydrated.

Drink Plenty of Water

Hydration is crucial at high altitudes due to the thin, dry air that can dehydrate you faster and increase respiratory rate than at sea level. Ensure you drink enough water before, during, and after your runs so your body gets an optimal amount of oxygen.

Supplement With Electrolytes

Water alone may not be enough. Supplement your hydration with electrolytes to maintain optimal hydration levels. Electrolyte drinks, tablets, or gels can be easily incorporated into your hydration routine. We recommend Gatorade Endurance Formula and Honey Stinger Sport Hydration, as they both offer a unique blend of electrolytes crafted to maintain optimal body function and performance for high-performance runners and athletes. Snack on high-potassium fruits like bananas and avocados to reduce cramping.

Male runner drinking a bottle of water
Runner in the middle of a road

#3 – Prioritize Your Pace

Pacing is key to building endurance and avoiding burnout. Keep these tips in mind as you optimize your pace during training.

Start Slow

When running at high altitudes, it’s essential to start slowly. Gradually increase your pace as you build endurance and become more comfortable with the elevation.

Build Up Stamina

Begin with long walks or uphill walking to build your stamina. Once you feel more comfortable, move on to jogging and eventually running. This gradual progression helps your body adapt without overexertion.

#4 – Learn New Breathing Techniques

At high altitudes, breathing techniques can make a significant difference in your performance. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

Take in More Oxygen

Experiment with different breathing techniques to help your body take in more oxygen when you’re exercising, running, and doing anything physical. Practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing to help your body take in more oxygen with each breath. Inhale deeply and steadily through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

Maintain a Consistent Pace

Consistency is key. Find a breathing rhythm that works for you and stick to it. This will help you maintain a steady pace and conserve energy throughout your run.

Woman practicing breathing tips for runners

Join Us at the Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins

Are you ready to put these training tips for runners into practice? Join us at the Colorado Marathon, home of the 2023 and 2024 RRCA State Marathon Championship. Voted Colorado’s Fastest Marathon, this event isn’t just any race; it’s an experience! 

Our annual high-altitude race is held in Fort Collins each May and boasts Full, Half, 10k, and 5k marathons. This event is perfect for “50 State” runners looking for an alternative to urban marathons. The Full Marathon features a total elevation loss of 1,200 feet, giving runners a significant speed and endurance boost for a higher chance of Boston Marathon qualification. Not only that, but our scenic course in the Poudre Canyon meanders through some of the most stunning mountain settings in Northern Colorado for a truly unforgettable experience.

Check out the race details for our upcoming event and register for this exhilarating race today!

Stay tuned for more training tips for runners and updates from the Colorado Marathon team. Share your training experiences with us on social media using #ColoradoMarathon!