Moved from sea level to 7,000’ and struggling physically and mentally with the challenge

Hey all!

I moved from sea level in Northern California to 7,000’ in Utah this June (12wks ago) and I am finding the training and racing quite challenging (where’s the O2?) and it’s beginning to wear on me mentally. My power numbers are way down, below the 10% or so that I’ve read comes with the elevation. I am a 45yo very experienced lifelong racer hell-bent on making the podium at CX Nats, which I feel is a real possibility. I have lots of time and energy to devote to training. Are there any particular aspects I can work on to improve my ability to sustain and repeat high power output, like I’m used to doing at sea level? Train more VO2? Train heavy weights? It would be helpful to hear from folks who have experience with training and competing at elevation.

Thanks in advance!

Hi Justin!

Everyone reacts differently to altitude in terms of percentage off of FTP and top end power. But going from sea level to 7000ft is a huge change! So seeing a significant drop is expected.

Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do. Back in the day when FasCat had a brick and mortar spot with a lab we would have athletes train with oxygen so they could hit the higher power numbers like riding at sea level.

If you had the opportunity you could do a short training camp down at sea level. This would be a great time to do intensity and Vo2 max / anaerobic work as you would be able to hit the higher power and put that stress on your muscles.

When you do go back to sea level you will be able to produce higher power numbers and it will be there. Just trust the training.

Here is an training tip that I wrote:


Hey Justin,

I moved from Portland, OR to near Santa Fe, NM 5 years ago and it took about a whole season of training to get back to feeling comfortable like I was at sea level. At higher elevation the power has dropped, but like Jake said trust the training and the power will be there back at sea level.

With CX nationals in Washington near sea level, elevation is certainly something to consider, but don’t let it get you down mentally. I raced MTB Marathon Nats in Arkadelphia near sea level and it went much better than I had expected and the power was where I needed it.

@justinmorgan my question is related your move? Why did you move? Was it stressful to move? Have you found it challenging to find places to train? Do you have a new job? Sometimes life changes bring with it stress that can be a silent performance killer. Then you feel bad physically, and then you feel bad mentally about how you’re riding. It’s a vicious cycle!

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