Livin’ high: The chronicles of altitude camp

I’m writing to you from way, way up high – 7000 feet high to be exact. I’m currently in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA, where I’m three days into a month-long training camp with Athletics Canada.

For those of you who have never been up this high for an extended period of time, I’ll start by saying that even little tasks such as walking up a few stairs will get your heart rate going and leave you out of breath.

My UVic Life Student Blog

Shot last year from Sedona.

Last week was pretty hectic with finishing up the term. I’ve been lucky to have no scheduled final exams in the exam period, but I had a ton of papers and assignments to complete (and I’m still working on them). This has allowed me to dip out of Victoria as soon as classes ended!

University of VictoriaOn a side note: last week was our UVic Athletic Banquet. We celebrated the end of the year, honoured the graduating athletes and gave out awards. I was honoured to receive the UVic Female Athlete of the Year Award and I was absolutely overjoyed. The UVic Vikes Varsity program is deep, with many talented athletes who contribute to the success of the program. To be included in the nominations with basketball player Cass Goodis, who broke a Canada West record for most assists of all time, soccer superstar Jaclyn Sawicki and the rowing team’s national medalist, Deborah Snell is an honour. As I said in my rambling moment when I ran up to the microphone, I couldn’t imagine running for another school and I am so proud of be a Vike!!

Back to me sitting in my condo’s kitchen chugging water and snacking on almonds while I wait for my second run of the day. For all of the negative feelings that come from being here, the positives outweigh it by far.

My UVic Life student blog


It is one of my favourite cities to visit. This is my fourth consecutive year of visiting in the spring for altitude training – Flagstaff is the hot spot for distance runners! There are beautiful trails, great coffee and, most importantly, unreal training benefits.

The science behind it all is that there are three main benefits of training at altitude: increased red blood cells, a better muscle adaptation to training and a better running economy (a measure of how much/or how little oxygen a runner uses for a given, sub max speed).

The type of altitude training that we do is called “live high-train low”, where we sleep and do our relaxed running at 7000ft, then drive down to lower altitude in Sedona, at approximately 4000ft, for our intensity workouts.

On that note, Sedona is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It’s in a valley with red rock towering above in an extravagant skyline, which makes for a very nice view when on the track.

How I survive altitude camp:

  1. Drink copious amounts of water. It’s dry up here as we are in the desert.
  2. When the body says run slow…run sloooooow.
  3. Nap excessively; binge on Netflix. It’s all about doing nothing.
  4. Accept the fact that the dreams get weird (less oxygen…feelin’ loopy).
  5. Avoid hills. Avoid stairs. Don’t stand up too fast.

So, on day three I’m still here – alive and breathing. Stay tuned.


My UVic Life student blog

UVic athlete

Photo credit: Jim McDannald

UVic athlete

Photo credit: Jim McDannald

UVic athlete

Photo credit: Jim McDannald

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1 Response

  1. Kevin says:

    SO GLAD you’re still alive. The weather looks AMAZING though. Can’t wait to hear stories when you’re back! You’re incredible!