Thursday, 15 November 2007

The High Life

Posted by speedygeoff on Thursday, November 15, 2007 with 6 comments
Spring Series race Tuesday: Weston Park 5k (in fact ~4.87k)
7. Maria O'Reilly W50 21:26
15. Rachelle Ellis-Brownlee W35 22:18
22. Thea Zimpel 23:43
25. Kelley Flood W45 23:56
42. Ruth Baussmann W55 27:15
43. Annette Sugden W45 27:23

18. Richard Faulks M45 18:43
43. Roger Pilkington M45 22:06
44. Geoff Moore M55 22:09
48. Peter McDonald M50 22:52
50. Mick Saunders M55 22:56
55. David Baussmann M55 23:40
58. Neil Boden M55 23:55
65. Geoff Barker M60 24:49
76. Mick Charlton M55 27:56

Living at altitude – some food for thought at

Interestingly the article proposes that living at a high altitude and training at a low altitude has the most benefit! I am not sure how we organise to do that, what with the cost of fuel, groceries etc at the highest points in Australia.

Although, even a place with a less high altitude (in Canberra my training routes vary from 500m to 650m) has some of the benefits of higher places.

My positives about living in Canberra
Air – clean, relatively speaking. Less than it used to be admittedly, especially on Northbourne avenue where the Sydney traffic arrives from, but generally crisp and pleasant, particularly in winter.
Athletics – a good spirit among the clubs here, and plenty of different kinds of sporting clubs in close proximity.
Adventure – close to the mountains, close to the sea, and with oodles of local attractions.
Altitude - as discussed.
And that’s just the a’s.

My negatives
Allergies. being in the wheat belt can bring on year round allergies, and Canberra is such a place.
Attitude. Ignorant Australians from elsewhere, often Queenslanders (but not all of them!), have a stupid attitude towards us, they think politicians come from Canberra. We know that’s wrong, they come TO Canberra from everywhere else. My fellow Australians, we don’t need your hate or your pity.
ARL etc. The obsession Canberra media has with the “bully” and “thug” sports is annoying, but understandable I suppose given that all the “national” news is from Sydney.
Altitude - a down side for us outdoor types is, an increased skin cancer risk due to much higher UV levels.
And that’s just the a’s.

But as the article suggests, 600m isn’t really altitude, you start getting benefits from about 2,000m. And a negative of living at 2,000m metres in Australia is the lack of anywhere you’d really want to stay for very long. I suppose a positive is that you’d be well away from those damned politicians.

The worst scenario for fitness would be living at sea level in a highly polluted island near the equator where the temperature and humidity is forever extreme, i.e. Singapore (sorry Karmin!), which place would otherwise be an exciting and stimulating environment, the centre of the universe!

But even in Singapore where I lived for nine weeks I found some lovely places to run. We humans are after all very adaptable creatures! And could it be that the advantages of altitude are fairly minor. And dare I say it, partly psychological? I think, to do well you only need to bring an "altitude attitude" to the place where you live and train. Expect to improve where you are, with who you are, and with what you have, with what you are doing. A spirit of contentment is a wonderful thing. A spirit which many of us who are highly motivated, highly ambitious, could learn to welcome and foster. Aim high on the one hand, enjoy the levels you attain on the other.

Happy Australians enjoying running in Cool Canberra


  1. If you lived in a shack out in the Brindys you'd be at 1000m, but maybe too far from civilisation.

    There's a measurable (negative) performance effect at 600m - it was about 3 minutes for a 3 hour marathoner. If we want to run track PBs, we should go down to Sydney and fluke a race on a cool, calm day with no pollution.

  2. Jenny just flew from Brisbane to Canberra. She said the pollution over Newcastle/Sydney/Wollongong was SOLID. No way would I live or run in that. But Canberra's too is worsening. Makes the idea of moving to Launceston to eke out my remaining years quite attractive.

  3. It's true that here we're pretty polluted (though not as bad as Beijing - boom boom for 2008!) and the humidity is awful. That's probably why you don't see many people out and running along pavements - most people take their business to the gym (ugh), run track, or take up swimming instead, or simply don't exercise...

    Then again, there are some nice places to run (as you said). And some of us run in the early morning when the air is cool and fresh :)

  4. That last paragraph was brilliant!
    I agree, we all have to make the best of it. A lot of negatives here in Osaka but just as many good points as well ;)

    I Think that, the pros and cons of running in each of our hometowns would be a great topic for future posts. I'd like to hear some others write some balanced appraisals as I'm looking to time in other cities/places in the future.

  5. In Singapore the air in the morning is cool and fresh? You mean in the gym? In Canberra early in the morning the air is always cool and fresh!

    Speedygeoff, if you want to get far away from Canberra's politicians (or Queensland's Queenslanders ;) you should move to Franklin, Tas. I hear there are sometimes geese to train with, and you can duck up to Hobart town to race on a nice 400m track.

  6. Close! Strathgordon, Tasmania, would be my home town of choice, if I decided to get away from it all.