The Italian Biathlon Team tested this training method at Stelvio Pass (ital. Passo dello Stelvio). Located in Italy, the Stelvio Pass is at 2,757 meters, and is the second highest paved mountain pass in the Alps.
In preparation for the Olympics in Vancouver, Biathlon head coach Paolo Riva thought to try something different at Stelvio Pass. For the past two weeks, the Italian biathletes lived on the mountain at 2700m, but trained in the valley at 1300m. During the 15-day training camp, the athletes were monitored by trained medical staff who regularly collected and analyzed blood samples.
If the collaboration, with the sports medicine Center Sondalo and the University of Milan, pays off, the Biathlon team will use this training method to prepare for the 2010 Olympics.
The training method of â€œlive high — train lowâ€ allows athletes to benefit from the altitude by increasing their erythropoietin (EPO), which is a hormone that regulates red blood cell production. An increase in EPO ultimately leads to an augmented hemoglobin content.
Since hemoglobin is responsible for the oxygen transport in the blood, an increase in EPO leads to increased oxygen delivery to the muscles. At the same time, â€œtraining lowâ€ allows athletes to maintain training volume, intensity, and speed, which would otherwise not be possible.
Contributing sources: xc-ski.de, www.pubmed.gov