British middle-distance star's top tips for training at altitude, with 'behind the scenes' insights from Kenya

British middle-distance star's top tips for training at altitude, with 'behind the scenes' insights from Kenya

 

Professional runner Adelle Tracey is one of the Britain’s brightest middle-distance talents, who is aiming for selection at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Adelle discovered CurraNZ last year, having been recommended the product for muscle recovery by British Athletics while on an altitude training camp.

Here, fresh from medalling and running her fastest-ever time at a British Indoor Championship, Adelle, who is presently ranked third nationally for 800m, writes about her season build-up in Kenya - the ‘Home of Champions’.

'There's no flat running in Kenya, therefore you experience a lot of delayed onset muscle soreness but it brings on your fitness' 

ALTITUDE training is an important part of my preparation for competing as a middle-distance athlete. I travel to a variety of places around the world, up to as many as four times a year, to get the exposure of living and training at high altitude.

Out of all the places I have trained (Pyrenees, Arizona, South Africa and St Moritz) Kenya is by far the most physically challenging, due to its altitude and lack of flat running.

I visited Kenya for the first time in 2014 and in January, returned to this wonderful part of the world for my fifth block of altitude training here. The camp is based at 8,000ft in the rural town of Iten, also known as ‘the Home of Champions’. Many athletes travel from across the world to indulge in the Kenyan experience, as well as reap the benefits of living at high altitude.

Life in Iten is a ritualised daily routine of sleep, eat, train, repeat. You very quickly become accustomed to this in order to maximise performance.

The journey to Iten takes 23 hours, with a 2,500m increase in altitude, which can cause the body a lot of stress, therefore supporting immunity during travel is essential. I often take two CurraNZ capsules over a 24-hour period, as well as plenty of fluids and regular application of antibacterial hand gel.  

Hydration is also key with long-haul travel. I find using electrolytes can help to retain fluid and also prevent you from having to constantly go back and forth to the toilets in-flight.

The nice thing about travelling back to a familiar place is knowing what is needed to support training and make every-day living more comfortable.

Here are my top five recommendations for high-altitude training:

1. Compression garments

Maximising recovery is essential when your body is under pressure to adjust to the rocky terrain and hills. Compression can also help reduce swelling from travel.

2. Hydration support

I always travel with electrolytes as cabin pressure and being at altitude and the dry conditions can cause dehydration. These are also helpful when training in warm conditions.

3. Nutritional aids

I load up on CurraNZ a week before traveling to support immunity during the journey and to also help my recovery - and I also take probiotics for gut health. I often drink Kefir or Kombucha when travelling.

4. Heart rate monitor

It’s important to ease yourself into training the first week at 8,000ft. Using a heart-rate monitor is a great way to assess how your body is adjusting and adapt accordingly.

5. Eye mask

Sleep is an essential part of recovery. I napped every day for 30-90 minutes in Kenya.  When your body is working hard, napping can really benefit muscle repair and cognitive performance.

 

Diet can be simple and repetitive in Kenya. The Kenyans tend to eat a lot of kale, ugali (a mix of maize flour and water) and stew - normally goat or beef. As a vegetarian they would often make me lentils or an omelette to accompany the kale and ugali sides. For breakfast there was porridge, eggs and we would be treated to pancakes (crepes) or Mandazi which are an East African donut. Mandazi and pancakes are not the healthiest, however when you’re having very little fat in your diet it’s a good thing to have these treats as maintaining body weight at high altitude is essential to gaining red blood cells.

Kenya exports a lot of its amazing fruits and vegetables, therefore getting a varied diet can be difficult. At home I have berries on a daily basis therefore supplementing with CurraNZ daily allows me to get an antioxidant boost on camp and help support the immune system.

There is also recent research to suggest that CurraNZ supports gastro-intestinal integrity when exercising in heat which could be another added benefit to supplementing when training in Kenya. (Click here for research)

As for the training in Kenya, there is virtually no flat running, apart from the track. Therefore, you’re likely to experience a lot of delayed onset muscle soreness in the first week, particularly as the body adjusts to a lot of uphill and downhill running.

Muscle fibres need to break down to repair and then adapt for us to become stronger, however this process doesn’t always happen quickly enough when training three times a day. Some antioxidants can reduce DOMS therefore supplementing with CurraNZ to enhance recovery is really helpful.

Being mindful of how to recover best and support training when at 8,000ft is essential - as well as respecting the altitude.

This year’s visit was another memorable one and I am sure the exposure to altitude here will contribute to my developing fitness and helped set me up for the Indoor season.

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