Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Mancos named among the Top 10 Towns for High-Altitude Running

With just over 104,000 square miles of beauty, 53 peaks above 14,000 ft, and an overall average elevation of 6,800 ft it is no surprise three Colorado towns popped up on Outside Magazine’s top 10 towns for high-altitude running list.

The Top 10 Towns for High-Altitude Running

From Outside Magazine
By Stephen Wayne Kasica

Photo: Getty Images/Stockphoto/Varsescu

Hello, red blood cells!

Want to breathe with unconstrained lungs, cruise over hills as if they were pesky speed bumps, and shave down your PR? Then you’ll need to spend some time huffing and puffing in thin mountain air. Although there’s no conclusive sweet spot for optimal elevation training, USA Track & Field has recommended that athletes live between 7,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level. Sparse oxygen at such altitude forces your body to increase its number of red blood cells, thus increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to muscles during exercise and improving performance.

Lately, some of the best runners in the country have been traveling abroad for their stints at altitude. Nick Symmonds said he trained for a month at around 6,000 feet in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, leading up to the 2014 indoor track national championships. Ryan Hall and his wife, Sara, flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to run at 7,000 feet in preparation for this year’s Boston Marathon. Desi Linden trained in Iten, Kenya (elevation 7,900), for the same race.

But there are plenty of high altitude destinations stateside. Flatlanders ought to be cautious when traveling any of these places—and not just because of the lack of oxygen. Visitors often become residents. Marathoner Frank Shorter moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 1970 to prepare for the 1972 Munich Olympics, and Boulderites still see him on area trails.

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Running Through the Fear

From Outside Magazine
By Katie Arnold

In the wake of a bizarre physical attack and the death of her father, Katie Arnold felt paralyzed by the anxieties of parenthood and being a woman alone in the wilderness. She got through it the same way she’d always done, by lacing up and hitting the trail. An exclusive excerpt from her new memoir, Running Home.

There’s one question that people always ask me about running alone in the backcountry. It’s the same question they ask me about taking young children down whitewater rivers. I know because it’s also the one I ask myself. Aren’t you scared?

The answer is: absolutely. In the seven years I’ve been an ultrarunner, I’ve taught myself to tolerate uncertainty, to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I’ve run and won races ranging from 50 kilometers to 100 miles, but I still rarely leave the house without weighing my worries against my desire to run, assessing the risks of being on my own in the wilderness, thinking hard about what’s at stake. Everything.

I’m scared of getting lost and of getting hurt and of being attacked by animals wild and domesticated—even livestock. Dogs that lunge at me from yards; cattle that graze in meadows, staring at me with their mean, blank eyes when I sidle by, daring me to pass. They’re just cows, I chide myself, feeling foolish, but they are large and lumbering and ten times my weight, and they could mow me down in an instant.

I don’t worry about lone coyotes—at 40 pounds, they’re too small and skittish to do any harm—but packs of coyotes, though rarely encountered, are unpredictable. (In 2009, a female solo hiker was killed by a pair of coyotes in Nova Scotia.) Rattlesnakes are uncommon in my hometown of Santa Fe. They don’t do well above 7,000 feet, or so I thought, until the day I came upon a pair of mating rattlers in the middle of a trail. I was nearly on top of them before I realized the coiled brown rope at my feet wasn’t a rope at all, but a knot of amorous vipers, and I yelped and hurdled over them. Now I keep my eyes down.

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Brain Stimulating Headphones May Work After All

From Outside
By Alex Hutchinson

Photo: Courtesy Halo Neuroscience

The hype around the technology has raced ahead of the evidence. Now the evidence may be catching up.

From a purely scientific point of view, the idea that you can alter your physical limits by trickling a bit of electric current through your brain is pretty amazing. Without changing anything about how your muscles are contracting, how hard you’re breathing, or how fast your heart is beating, you can (in theory) go farther or faster—because electric stimulation applied to precisely the right part of the brain makes everything feel easier. It’s a pretty stunning illustration of the brain’s role in setting physical limits.

In practice, the waters are a bit muddier. Should we really celebrate the advent of a new era of brain doping, in which anyone who aspires to the top of the podium has to wire up their cranium? I’ve written a lot about a technique called transcranial direct-current brain stimulation in recent years (most recently here), and I’ve been secretly relieved that, although it seems to work in the highly controlled environment of the laboratory, there’s been little or no convincing evidence that commercially available devices like the one made by Halo Neuroscience do the same.

For better or worse, that may be changing. Last month, two new studies were published that found significant improvements in athletic performance—one running, one cycling—using Halo’s brain-stimulation headphones. Both studies are small, and both leave some questions unanswered. But as brain stimulation drifts toward mainstream, it’s worth taking a look at the new findings.

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