Monday, 27 October 2014

Altitude Training Options: Rest of Europe

Over the past few months, I have posted brief summaries of altitude training options in France and Andorra, Spain and the Canary Islands, and Switzerland.  In this post, I look at some of the other options for altitude training across Europe and summarise the general pros and cons of training on the continent.

The mountainous areas of Continental Europe provide scenic training options; however, unlike the Rift Valley or the elevated Plateaus found in North America, these options are mountainous, and not particularly suited for those who don’t fancy running up and down the side of a mountain. Additionally, because of Europe’s distance from the equator, the snow-free season is relatively short, and, at best, stretches from April to September. Most of the available options are based in ski resorts, making them expensive compared to African or North American options.  There are few options to live above 2,000m.

Despite the above drawbacks, there are many advantages to staying in Europe for altitude training.  Budget airlines operate regular flights to most European cities, so getting there, at least, can be relatively cheap.  Even Teneriffe, the furthest away the European options, is served by Ryanair flights from the UK and elsewhere.  As mentioned previously, the European mountains are particularly beautiful, as tranquil glacial lakes contrast with the dramatic mountainous landscape.  The pine forests, with well-groomed trails, that cover many of the mountainous regions, are ideal for care-free off-road running.  There are endless opportunities for trail and fell runners, and trails are generally located close to the hotel and accommodation options.  Europe also offers numerous ‘live high; train low’ options.  There are few safety issues.  And for track runners, getting out races on the European circuit is generally quite easy.

Some of the options available include
  • Turracher Hohe, Austria (1,763m) – A small ski resort approximately 60 km north-west of Klagenfurt.
  • Kuhtai, Austria (2,020m) – A well-equipped, visitor-friendly resort located just 40 km west of Innsbruck. 
  • Rila Mountains, Bulgaria (2,050m) – An isolated area with a well-equipped sports facility specifically designed for altitude training.
  • Sestriere, Italy (2,035m) – A ski resort in the Italian Alps close to the French border, which boasts an athletics track, and is popular among road cyclists and racewalkers.
  • Livigno, Italy (1,816m) – A ski resort in Lomardy, close to the Swiss border, which is particularly appealing to mountain bikers.
If you know of any other altitude training hotspots in Europe, please let us know.  We'd love to share with our community.

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