It’s so easy to be a 46 year-old old runner near sea level

After 13 years living at 4,659 feet, I’ve forgotten how easy it is to be a runner at sea level! Wow. You old-timers like me who live below 1,000 feet elevation have NO EXCUSES. Working out here feels like nothing, even though I left behind the High Plains Desert three weeks ago.

This used to be my birthday run, at nearly 12,000 feet. Now this is my run at about 920 feet above sea level:


Watch out: next summer when I return to the Front Range, I’m going to be a MACHINE!!! A middle-aged machine, yes, but MACHINE!!! all the same.

9 thoughts on “It’s so easy to be a 46 year-old old runner near sea level

  1. Is the smog an issue for you? For my longest time at the Huntington, I stayed in Altadena, just above the smog line. The air was fresh there for a morning constitutional but the weekday view was frequently uninspiring.


  2. Smog has not been an issue for me. The air quality has been good to moderate since we arrived. But, I’m not particularly sensitive to bad air, whether working out or just walking around. (And running in the cool of the morning probably helps. I’m much more sensitive to heat than anything else when I run.)

    The first time I worked here in 2002, I took a hike in the San Gabes just above Altadena. I thought the effect of the smog was kind of cool: you could see downtown LA emerge from the schmutz kind of like a hovering, shimmering Emerald City. But I can see that the smog could be a drag if it were your everyday reality.


  3. The smog builds up with rush hour, so the cool of the morning is also probably before most of the smog.

    I’ve checked in to be a wet blanket. One of the reasons the run seems relatively easy is that you still have the extra red blood cells needed at high altitude. Athletes use that by training at high altitudes before competition. It’s a legal form of EPO, you could say.

    You’re here for a year, right? By then your red blood cell count will be down to normal for a lowlander. Running up near the stratosphere where you live will feel a lot like real work. But only for a few weeks. That’s the good news.


  4. My best fellowship running year came not from moving to a lower altitude above sea level, but from moving out of the wimpy little hills of Pennsylvania onto the flatlands around Lake Michigan. I never much liked “hill work” in any case, but the distances I was getting in Chicago faded rapidly when I moved back into the washboard terrain. No machine, that’s for certain. I liked running at the Huntington, now that I’m remembering, though, and that was not really flat.


  5. Every time I’m in the mountains around LA I have visions of a future where we have a solar electric economy and no air pollution and the beauty of this place wasn’t usually smudged.

    I believe the high RBC lasts longer in the lowlands than it takes to build it back up, if you’re exercising, in the highlands. Nature isn’t always totally curmudgeonly 😀 .


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