Here I am!

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I’ve based myself for the past few weeks in the French Alps.  I think one of the best ways to train is to try and replicate, exactly or as near to as possible, the activity that I will be doing.

So here in the beautiful snowy mountains I find fairly steep slopes and hike up and down them!

Being in the mountains, sleeping and training between 1500 – 3600m above sea level is brilliant altitude training.

{A bit of blurb on altitude – One of the major reasons that climbing big mountains takes so much time and is so difficult is because of the altitude.  The higher up you go the thinner the air gets and therefore the less oxygen there is to take with each breath.  We need oxygen for aerobic respiration to produce energy – the energy that we need to move!  Because there is less oxygen in the air the higher up you go the more difficult it becomes to produce the amounts of energy you normally have and everything ………slows……… right……. .down…..

Acclimatization is the process we go through to help our bodies adapt to being in thinner air with less oxygen.  On a mountain you don’t just climb straight to the top.  You reach a ‘base camp’ and from there you go up a little way, come back down and rest.  Then you go up a little further than the last time, maybe camp overnight, come back down and rest.  Then, guess what?!  You go up a little further than before, camp, come back down and rest.  You repeat this process until it’s time for the summit push.  Our bodies are so amazing this process makes our blood do funky stuff!  The number of haemoglobin (the bit of our blood that carries oxygen around in our red blood cells) increases.  This in turn increases our oxygen carrying capability – therefore we can use the oxygen available far more efficiently and produce enough energy to slowly make our way to the top of the mountain!}

It’s not only good to train at altitude it’s also good to carry weight on your back.  (On Everest I’ll be carrying weight when I climb – it’s therefore important I’m strong enough to do it).  So when I’m hiking around the hills I also carry a heavy pack on my back (heavy being 13-20kgs depending on how I’m feeling!) .  Sometimes I climb up and carry weights, ski boots and skis – then I can spend 2-3hrs going up and an exhilarating, fun few minutes blasting back down!

Hiking up... About to ski down!