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Leadville Series: Adjusting to the Altitude

Rebecca Rusch (Red Bull-Specialized) two-time champion

“Because of my job as a professional racer, I am fortunate that I can come out about two weeks ahead of the race. The general theory is that with two weeks, you get about 90-percent acclimatized, but that you need 4-6 months to be 100 percent. If you don’t have two weeks, which most people don’t, then the next best option is to come up at the last possible moment so your body doesn’t really know what is happening yet. The worst is to go three days before, because basically you are digging yourself a hole trying to create red blood cells.”

“On the bike, I have to remind myself that my heart rate just won’t go as high as I’m used to seeing it. When I do level five on my perceived effort scale, the number on my heart rate monitor is lower even though perceived effort is really high. For me it sort of self regulates, because I just can’t go that hard at high altitude. I always try to remember that if you feel bad on race day, don’t write yourself off. If you live low, you never know what is going to happen. I suggest that you turn off all your gadgets and just ride your bike. When you feel good, push it. When you don’t back off. Trust yourself.”

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