Gas Mask Running to Simulate High Altitude

by Jason
(Louisville, KY)

gas mask running to simulate high altitude

I have recently been training for my first triathlon and I have began to use a gas mask when I run and bike. Are there any health risks to doing this and have you heard of this before?

I figured it would simulate high altitude training with less oxygen, or maybe I am just an idiot who loves torture. Any information on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


Answer by Dominique:

A very interesting approach...

My thoughts on this are as follows:

1. How well can we simulate high altitude training with a gas mask?
2. What are the benefits and drawbacks of running with a gas mask on?
3. Any further tips if you continue running with a gas mask

How Well Can We Simulate High Altitude Training with a Gas Mask?

gas mask running to simulate high altitude

Running with a gas mask on can be a way to simulate running at high altitude. Altitude masks work by restricting the amount of air that you can breathe in, which makes it harder to get enough oxygen. This can help your body to adapt to running in conditions where there is less oxygen, such as at high altitudes.

However, it is important to note that altitude masks do not actually simulate the exact conditions of running at high altitude. The pressure means there is less oxygen in the air at high altitude. So at high altitude you suck in as much air, which contains less oxygen. With a gas mask on, you are reducing the amount of air you are breathing in.

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Running with a Gas Mask on

Some studies have shown that running with an altitude mask can be beneficial for athletes. One study found that runners who trained with an altitude mask for six weeks had improved VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake) and running economy (the amount of energy it takes to run a given distance). Another study found that altitude mask training can help to improve endurance performance at high altitudes.

gas mask running to simulate high altitude

However, it is important to note that altitude mask training is not a magic bullet. For a start, it makes it harder initially to do your running training sessions.

You run out of breath quicker, you can't go for as long or as fast. Only after a longer time you start to adjust and cope with the less oxygen in the air as your body adapts. At first it is actually a little detrimental to your running training.

I experienced this first hand when I lived in Colorado for six months when I went on a student exchange to Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO). The first few weeks running was awful.

After a while I got used to it, but in the beginning it was hard to get the usual amount of work in.

You may also find that when you are trying to do more strenuous workouts, you can't go for as long or as hard.

Sometimes it is good to take a step back and consider: what are elite athletes doing? Yes, they do high altitude running camps. But I haven't heard too many stories of elite runners structurally running with gas masks on. That should tell you something.

However, maybe you are not just torturing yourself, but you are a true visionary! See for yourself what you want to do, but I wouldn't do it.

Any Further Tips if You Continue Running with a Gas Mask

I would just like to provide you with a few words of caution. A few things to keep in mind when running with a gas mask:

  • Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts over time.

  • Listen to your body and take breaks when you need them.

  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

  • Be aware of the risks of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, especially if you are running in hot weather.

  • If you experience any discomfort or pain, stop running and remove the mask.

  • I hope that provides some answers to your questions.
    Check out the running training section for further running training advice.

    Kind regards,

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