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Saturday, November 1, 2014

November 1st, 2014: A slight glitch in my previous post left me more optimistic than ever....

Typically, scientific discovery comes after "hmmm, that's funny" rather than "Eureka!"; my previous post left me wondering what was going wrong with my hypoxic training.  Recall that my new training routine looks as if I am NOT improving with each simulated climb.  That discovery left me wondering if I were overtraining or perhaps the new routine was working against me.   I sought answers to those possible outcomes and here is what I discovered.....

1.  My hypoxic units are working better than I expected.  I calibrated the settings on each unit when I started this round of training but apparently - much to my surprise - the calibration seems to change over time.  Here (below) is my calibration from July 2014 where I changed the setting on the unit (in .5 increments) and recorded the oxygen percent with my handy dandy oxygen sensor.  I put on the high altitude adapter and open the valve to "max out" the flow - thus giving me the full effect of the adapter.  
Each incremental change on the unit's interface should result in a decrease in oxygen percent.  The figure above shows that decrease rather clearly.  When I recalibrated the unit, I discovered the oxygen percentages change substantially - perhaps by as much as full percentage point.  What does this change mean?  Well, a full percentage point change means that when I thought I was working out at 11.2% (16,250 feet or 4950m), I was actually training at 10.2% (18,750 feet or 5715m).  That difference may not seem like much but it represents a huge difference in cardio-pulmonary functioning and efficiency.  I don't have a calibration curve yet for my latest values but I will update this post once I enter them and plot them in google docs. 

2.  I overlooked my training objective when reporting the previous results.  Something seemed odd that I would decrease my intensity and my spO2 would remain low but then I went back over my training log entries and noted that I intentionally increased my normoxia training intensity.  That increase in intensity when I was not using the hypoxic unit lead me to deliberately decrease my training intensity on my simulated climbs.  Instead of pushing hard on the simulated climb, I tried to keep my spO2 at or above 80% - perhaps an unrealistic goal for real climbs but I wanted to recover from the training rather than tire myself out for weeks on end.

3.  Higher intensity workouts before my simulated climbs appear to jump start my aerobic metabolism better than jumping right into the climb. Like a good detective, I started back to my first simulated climbs to see what I was doing before and during those climbs that helped me maintain relatively high spO2 values for each incremental gain in altitude.  The one glaring difference between my current workouts and previous workouts was the positioning of more intense activity before the simulated climbs.  I would run to swim practice at a nice, tempo pace and then swim for 1.5 hours at a high intensity (for a good portion of that time) and then run home after eating donuts with my swim mates.  Those workouts really primed my pump for the lower intensity simulated climbs.  Since late September, I was not swimming on Saturday mornings for some reason or another and opted to run more toward the beginning of the week and save my legs for the simulated climb.  Thus, I would jump into my simulated climbs right away with just a brief set of warm-up exercises.  Perhaps those warm-ups are not enough for me.  I noted that for me to swim well in my typical endurance events, I needed at least 2000 yards of warm-up and some higher intensity swims to get me going.  Warming up might be more important for me compared to others and the changes in my warm-up routine may affect my reaction to hypoxia.  I guess I need to test this question out in the upcoming weeks.

Thanks for following along with my adventure.  Hope you find my detective work interesting.  Off to my son's swim meet and then I  have a 6 hour simulated climb today while watching college football.  See you next week....