North Beach middle distance coach Shane Saltmarsh (pictured above) recently travelled to Colorado in the United States to instruct in some military training for 7 weeks.

Whilst training in the Rocky Mountains Shane was based in the Gunnison / Crested Butte back country area at altitudes between 10,000-14000ft with temperatures ranging from -5 to -40 degrees. During the trip Shane had an opportunity to train in Gunnison at Western State College Collegiate Athletic Track. The Gunnison-Crested butte area in Colorado is well known internationally for their middle distance and cross-country running programs. The trails that have made Gunnison County, Colorado, world renowned for mountain bikers and runners and have become a haven for them. From mid-May, when snows gradually begins receding to reveal a carpet of wildflowers, to early October, when the aspen have concluded their stunning fall show, trails in the area always astound with their beauty and variety ranging from 5km to half marathon in length. This may be why many runners who train at the high altitudes of the Gunnison-Crested Butte valley have a strong presence in high-profile endurance races in Colorado and around the world at all levels, from prep, college and beyond. Recently the Gunnison County won the American National 5km running titles.

The Western State Athletic track at Gunnison is the highest Collegiate track in the world with an altitude of 7771 ft. With a base altitude like this for training and a well renown Olympic coach Trent Sanderson it is no wonder these athletes compete at such a high level with outstanding results throughout the American running season. Shane was training with a college athlete on the track who was a member of the 5km Gunnison cross country team, this athlete who can run 5km in approximately 14min.20sec was not good enough to make it to the National team, further evidence how strong their running program and team are. There was Shane dying on the track from altitude after completing  a 4 x 200m session and this (unnamed) athlete would complete up to 10 reps with no effects of altitude at all, not to mention all (200m) run-throughs would be done between 24-26 seconds. Altitude training is the practice by some athletes of training above sea level at high altitude (8000ft or above) for several weeks. During this period the body will physiologically change due to the lower barometric pressure or partial pressure of oxygen.

The Oxygen content in the atmosphere is still 20.9%, and the body will adapt by increasing its red blood cells therefore increasing haemoglobin (carries O2 in the blood). The effects of altitude training with the increased o2 carrying capacity will give a competitive advantage when returning to a lower altitude or sea level to compete (higher barometric pressure). Athletes can expect to retain these altitude gains for 10-14 days before the body physiologically changes back to its normal state.

Interesting to note with no running for 8 weeks Shane took 2 seconds off his PB when returning to North Beach Seniors regular athletic training for 400m.

The North Beach Blues are looking for some new and enthusiastic MD runners to join our squad over the winter. Shane will be taking middle distance group training on Monday’s and Wednesday’s starting from April 30th.

The session will run from 5.15pm-6pm sharp at Charles Riley Reserve, North Beach.

Military instructor Shane Saltmarsh easily braves the ice cold conditions at the West State Athletic Track for a training session.