Professional runner Jared Ward recently nailed a speedy season opener at the NYC Half Marathon, finishing in 1:03 and change. Before heading out to NYC, he spent some time training at altitude. We chatted with Jared before he took off for Park City, Utah, to hear his thoughts on the benefits of altitude training.
When/where will you be altitude training this winter?
Feb 12 - March 16
The research says you need 4 weeks and that the benefits last for a bit longer than a month. Erica, the kids and I are up in Park City looking at the ski resorts with longing eyes, but just running.
What are the proven, scientific benefits of training at altitude?
Everyone responds differently, but on average it is my understanding that oxygen carrying capacity is increased. And that the benefit is from living up there, I still do some of my training in the valley.
Any mental benefits?
I think the time becomes a focusing time for me. Altitude training is when I begin to structure my diet, my mileage gets up to peak, I'm resting more and being more diligent on massage and taking care of myself.
Have you ever tried an altitude mask or tent? Do you find value in these things or are they (in your opinion) a poor substitute?
I have never done it just because I feel like my quality of life would diminish. The research that I have read says you need to be in the thin air for 18 hrs/day. I don't want to wear a mask or stay in a tent for that kind of time.
Any tips for someone racing at a higher altitude than they live/train in?
Start conservative. If things go south it's going to be much harder to recover from. I think all of the things like hydration and nutrition become even more critical. Not just because the altitude effectively lengthens the race (you run slower so you run longer), but because if you start struggling things get worse quicker at altitude.
Will your family join you? Any family ski time planned?
Yes, Erica and my kids are with me. And we might have to sneak in one skiing afternoon... Paul (my 4 yr old) wants to learn, and I believe it's time he does.
Next up for Jared is the Boston Marathon in April! This will be his first time running the course and we anticipate a great race to unfold!