Effects of altitude on athletic performance

It is well known that the performance of athletes who suddenly move to a location at a higher altitude than they are used to will suffer; when sports events such as the Olympics are held in a high altitude location, athletes often move to the area much earlier in order to adapt.

1 Answer

As outlined in Tim Noakes book “Lore of Runnning”.(1)

Performance in races of
60 to 200 m is always superior at altitude, with the benefit improving with increasing
altitude. Performance in races of 400 m improve progressively up to altitudes
of between 2000 and 2500 m but then begins to return to sea-level values. However,
even at altitudes of 4000 m, performance is still slightly better than at sea level.
Performance in races of 800 m or longer is always inferior at altitude; this deterioration
in performance falls most steeply at altitudes above 2500 m.

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(1) Tim Noakes (2001). Lore of Running. 4th ed. South Africa: Oxford University Press. 931.

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