You can be in the best shape and peak fitness at sea level yet find yourself struggling when it comes to higher altitudes. HAT (High Altitude Training), whether an OP or challenging yourself to a hiking experience with some of the most thrilling views and adventures, can be an entirely new challenge to even the most physically fit.
At high altitudes, your first enemy is the environment itself. The second during training ops would be your human foe or the extreme terrain a hiker can encounter.
High altitude is considered anything 5,000 feet or above.
To fight off Hypobaric Hypoxia (reduced tissue oxygen supply that leads to illness because of the decreased partial pressure of atmospheric oxygen at altitude) and to acclimate, we've got some tips to incorporate into your training that will have you ready to head into high altitude prepared.
Ease into it
The best strategy for high-altitude hiking, running or training is to simply give yourself a transition period. This may not always be feasible, but if it is possible, acclimatize over at least three weeks, allowing your body to adjust to high altitude at its own pace. Your age, health, and fitness level all account into how quickly or how slowly your body can adjust.
If weeks aren't feasible, at the very least take a few days to adjust to higher elevations. Don't fly or drive directly to a destination, spend more time at lower altitudes a few days before you set out. You don't want to shock your body, then add strenuous activity on top of the shock.
Lower oxygen levels often trigger faster breathing which then triggers more frequent urination. This is the body's way of trying to keep your acid-base balance in check. With the added strain of physical exertion through higher terrain, you'll be losing more fluids than you would at rest too. Combined, this could be a recipe for disaster as most of the time it's difficult to tell until you are thoroughly dehydrated that you need more water. If you notice chapped lips, dry eyes, and even nosebleeds while acclimating to higher climates, all of these symptoms can be attributed to dehydration.
Dehydration also dangerously masks the signs or can worsen symptoms of altitude sickness, so always stay hydrated.