Load management in elite German distance runners during 3-weeks of high-altitude training

Billy Sperlich, Silvia Achtzehn, Markus de Marées, Henning von Papen, Joachim Mester

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


There is a debate on the optimal way of monitoring training loads in elite endurance athletes especially during altitude training camps. In this case report, including nine members of the German national middle distance running team, we describe a practical approach to monitor the psychobiological stress markers during 21 days of altitude training (~2100 m above sea-level) to estimate the training load and to control muscle damage, fatigue, and/or chronic overreaching. Daily examination included: oxygen saturation of hemoglobin, resting heart rate, body mass, body and sleep perception, capillary blood concentration of creatine kinase. Every other day, venous serum concentration of blood urea nitrogen, venous blood concentration of hemoglobin, hematocrit, red and white blood cell were measured. If two or more of the above-mentioned stress markers were beyond or beneath the athlete's normal individual range, the training load of the subsequent training session was reduced. Running speed at 3 mmol L(-1) blood lactate (V3) improved and no athlete showed any signs of underperformance, chronic muscle damage, decrease body and sleep perception as well as activated inflammatory process during the 21 days. The dense screening of biomarkers in the present case study may stimulate further research to identify candidate markers for load monitoring in elite middle- and long-distance runners during a training camp at altitude.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12845
JournalPhysiological reports
Issue number12
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 06.2016

Research areas and keywords

  • Adult
  • Altitude
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobins
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid
  • Male
  • Physical Endurance
  • Running
  • Sleep
  • Urea
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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