Local expert and trainer, Terry Chiplin, shares tips on how any runner can prepare for Estes Park races and running at high altitude: 

How to prepare before you arrive
You can take several simple precautions before you head to run or race at altitude that will help your body deal with the metabolic and physiological changes that happen at higher altitudes. Running at altitude is a wonderful training stimulus, and one that everyone can benefit from, not just elite athletes!

  1. Hydration - ensure that you arrive already hydrated, and maintain that status throughout your stay at altitude. Most environments at higher elevations tend to be dryer climates, so better to start fully hydrated rather than trying to play catch up. Increase your intake of water by a glass or two each day for 3-5 days ahead of arrival at race elevation.
  2. Iron supplement - oxygen demands increase at altitude, so taking an iron supplement can be a good way to help support the body and maximize the metabolic benefits of being at altitude. The guidelines for Olympic athletes training at altitude is to supplement with 120 to 130 mg of elemental iron per day, divided into 2 doses, taken with vitamin C. You should consult with your doctor to get an iron test if you're considering iron supplementation.
  3. Increase calorie intake or supplement BCAA - your base metabolic rate increases at altitude, meaning you burn more calories for the same amount of exercise. At the same time, your appetite can be suppressed, so your calorie intake can be less, while demand has increased. Adding additional protein helps ensure that you don't lose muscle mass. You can also consider taking a branch chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement such as leucine, isoleucine and valine. Make sure you test your reaction to any supplement by using it ahead of race day! Carbohydrate intake can also be increased a little to ensure that glycogen stores are kept at full pre-race. Add 5% to your carbohydrate intake for 5 days prior to arrival at altitude. That's typically around 75 - 100 calories, or an additional banana or 2 pieces of whole wheat bread per day.
  4. Supplement Water soluble vitamins -Take daily amounts of water soluble vitamins (like C and B) to help your body cope with the stress of high altitude exercise. Make sure to follow recommendations for dosage amounts.
  5. Asea - This is a communication supplement. It is of particular benefit to athletes as it increases endurance capacity. Start taking Asea (it is a liquid supplement) before you come to altitude, and it will help to make your adjustment to altitude easier. I have been using the supplement myself since August 2009, and recommend it to all the athletes that I coach. See more information at this link -  Asea has received its athletic drug testing certifications - it has been declared clean and ok for competitive athletes to use without fear of containing any banned substances.
  6. Acli-Mate - is a unique and energizing acclimatization sport drink designed to aid in the prevention of altitude sickness AND assist mountain recreationalists and athletes in maximizing performance at elevation. The specific combination of natural ingredients including vitamins, minerals, herbs and electrolytes makes Acli-Mate® Mountain Sport Drink ideal for mountain visitors and athletes. Their Mountain formula comes in three delicious flavors: Elevation OrangeTM, Mountain GrapeTM and Colorado Cran-RaspberryTM. We recommend starting to use Acli-Mate® before arriving at altitude - see details at this link. 

Continue reading for tips on what to do once you arrive at altitude and explore other posts on how to running and racing in Estes Park on the Active at Altitude blog. 

This was re-posted with permission from Terry Chiplin and Active at Altitude.