I never consider elevation to be much of an issue living in Northeast Ohio. My home is at an 1,175 foot elevation. Yesterday during my assessment the trainer commented that my heart rate during the half marathon should have averaged a bit lower than usual since I was running at sea level. I took a look at my log, and it averaged 141 beats per minute versus 151 beats per minute when I ran Las Vegas, which is about 2,030 feet in elevation. I also notice today for my first long run since I have been back, I ran 6 miles with the feeling of lead in my legs. I did not hurt at all, I just felt lethargic. Just like I felt last fall when I came home and ran after being on vacation in the Caribbean.
Could 1,100 feet in elevation increase actually have an impact on my stamina within the first week of returning? I had to look it up. I also thought to myself as I was running the last mile, what would I do without the internet? Sit in front of microfiche at a library for hours probably. After a little searching I found an interesting article in Running Times referencing a research on altitude impacting runners and was described in the “treatise-length book, Lore of Running” by Timothy Noakes. Here is where I had to laugh. I can attest to the book being treatise-length, I own it! I am a bit of a geek and detail junky when it comes to knowing all there is about swimming, cycling and running. I also learned I have the third edition and this information is in the fourth edition. And it doesn’t come in Kindle format, darn. I may be buying another door stop sized book soon.
The findings – even an elevation change of 1,000 feet can slow a runner down. By as much as 1% per 1,000 feet too. Looking at my pace today versus my last long run before the race, it was 1% slower on the nose. I looked back in my running logs from November and saw the same results before and after my vacation. I am glad I know this and won’t beat myself up over feeling like a slug after a six mile run. I also like knowing this so when I select big races to run, I will look for elevations lower than 1,175 feet. Which is making both Memphis and Annapolis more desirable to run in December in place of Las Vegas. The temptation and self question is if I do Memphis, will I go for the marathon distance this year? Annapolis is only a half and Memphis offers both. It would be my 7th marathon and I would like to PR. Hmmm, lucky 7? I have time to decide, and continue on with the ups and downs of running.