Eat, Sleep, Train: Tips for Altitude Training from cyclist Kristabel Doebel-Hickok

Professional cyclist Kristabel Doebel-Hickok responds well to altitude training.

“I have really a really high VO2 max, so when I’m at sea level I have to kill my legs to get a lung workout,” Doebel-Hickok said during a stay at the Mammoth Lakes Endurance Crib. “Being at altitude gives my legs a rest.”

VO2 max measures the amount of oxygen the body can absorb during intense and prolonged exercise, according to Livestrong.com.

Since often athletes training at altitude expect their intensity levels to come down a bit as their bodies adapt, training in Mammoth Lakes is a perfect combination for Doebel-Hickok and many other pro athletes like her.

In addition to coming to Mammoth Lakes for the elevation gain, Doebel-Hickok (known as “Tink” on the pro circuit) said being able to get away from home allows her to really get into the training mindset.

Visiting the Crib as she finished up her 2014 season, “Tink” was working on her base training. “I’m here to eat, sleep and train,” she said. However, she was also weaving in a variety of exercise to give her a mental break from cycling.

“Being here [Mammoth Lakes] I can turn off my cell phone and soak up what’s around me,” she said. “That’s good for a high level athlete and anyone else for that matter.”

Nutrition and hydration are Doebel-Hickok’s keys to success while training at high elevations.

“Bring a water bottle with you even if you’re just walking around a lake,” she said. “I even keep a water bottle by my bed.” Additionally, she said athletes, especially female athletes, should make sure they are getting enough iron.

Above all else, listen to your body, she said. “It’s ok to ratchet back on workouts if you need to.”

Doebel-Hickok, who turned pro in May 2013, has a long history with Mammoth Lakes and has been visiting the area ever since she was a child, including the years that she was pursuing running instead of cycling.

“I’ve come back to Mammoth Lakes at different periods of my life but it always feels like home,” she said. “I’ve never had a bad experience here.”

Today she rides for Team TIBCO and has been spending the last few years really focusing on being the best teammate she can be.

“I’ve been the workhorse for my teammates,” she explained. In the cycling world, this is one of the highest honors that a young cyclist can experience. In addition, she won a stage at the Cascade Cycling Classic.

During her off-season, Doebel-Hickok was planning to work on her time trials, which, as she described, require more strength and mental toughness.

As for Mammoth Lakes, Doebel-Hickok plans to return in 2015. In addition to the altitude, “the views make training great,” she said. “You can go in any direction and find training ground. Plus, the town is big enough to have the services you need but doesn’t feel like a big city.”

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