Recently I have been taking part in some altitude tests at Leeds Met Carnegie. The purpose of the study is to test wether using a PowerBreathe device can improve your physical performance at altitude. The long term goal of the department is to find ways of reducing the acclimatisation period when travelling to altitude either by prior preparation or by your actions at base camp. Leeds MET Carnegie have a new barometric chamber that can simulate any environment on earth from plus to minus 40 degress, sea level to 10,000m altitude and any humidity.
The Lab Rat.
The test involves a 40 minute walk on a treadmill wearing a 12Kg pack, during which first the speed and then the gradient of the treadmill increase.
Then a 15 minute rest followed by running to exhaustion on the treadmill but without the pack. The treadmill speed is constant at 11kph but the gradient increases 1% every minute.
It’s absolutely brutal towards the end even at sea level but some of the tests are done at 3000m! Reaction times, oxygen levels and blood sampling are monitored throughout.
The 2 tests (altitude and sea level) are completed 3 times with 2, 4 week blocks of Power Breathe training inbetween. I have only done the initial tests and 1 week of training so far but will keep you posted when I find out any information, apart from the obvious that running up a 10% hill at 3000m is a very short lived activity.