Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
To get ready for next ski season, forget the gym. Forget trying to navigate your way through confusing training regiments and mindless long workouts. Instead, sign up for the Vail High Altitude Training Camp, June 22-26. The camp is run by Carmichael Training Systems (CTS), a training camp designed to train endurance athletes, specifically cyclists. Olympian and elite athlete Chris Carmichael founded CTS in 2000 because he recognized that there was a big discrepancy between the coaching and technology available to elite athletes and what was accessible to amateur athletes and enthusiasts. “I wanted to make world-class coaching, the attention and techniques we used when I was the National Coaching Director for USA Cycling in the 1990s, available to athletes of all ability levels,” he said. While Carmichael believes that every athlete deserves world-class training, his most significant client is still Lance Armstrong. “My work with Lance Armstrong during his recovery from cancer changed the way I approached coaching,” Carmichael said. Before cancer, Carmichael used ‘old-school’ methods. He loaded Armstrong up with extremely high mileage and a lot of hard intervals. After cancer Armstrong couldn’t withstand that kind of load, so Carmichael started to get a lot more precise with his training efforts. “That process made me realize we had been wasting a lot of effort previously, and that more could be accomplished through fewer training efforts – as long as those efforts were of great quality. That was something I knew could be translated down to work for everyday amateur athletes, too,” he said. Athletes who sign up for the High Altitude Performance Camp in Vail will be following the same program that Carmichael developed for Armstrong, including hill climbs and long valley road rides in the Vail area. When you train at altitude, your body adapts and increases its number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. “This allows you to carry more oxygen in your blood, and for a while when you go back to sea level you can ride or run faster because you’re able to deliver more oxygen to working muscles,” he said. This slight biological adaptation is not only good for competition, but also for training. While Carmichael will focus on cycling for the Vail High Altitude Training Camp, he has developed workout routines in the past for skiers to stay in shape during the off-season. “Skiing is a full-body exercise and the aerobic demands are huge,” he said. “For the downhill athletes, there are a lot of explosive workouts, but there’s also a big benefit for the downhill skiers to focus on endurance training. A bigger aerobic engine makes each run less taxing, makes the recovery between runs more complete, and builds a bigger foundation upon which the athlete can support all that high-intensity, explosive work.” The Camp isn’t cheap, but the hefty price tag that Carmichael slaps on his weeklong camps includes full support both during the rides and after. Athletes can look forward to access to professional bike mechanics, post-ride massage therapy, and personalized training advice. “And of course there are all the great amenities and services at the Vail Mountain Lodge,” Carmichael said. For more information on the Carmichael Training System and to find other high altitude camps in your area, go to http://www.trainright.com.