Elevated Training

Labelled for Reuse by Google.

Labelled for Reuse by Google.

Athletes put themselves through a lot for the love of their sport. Because of the unique conditions of Colorado Springs, our athletes have to push even harder.

At 6,000 feet, our athletes learn to excel in thinner air, which helps them crush the competition when they get down to sea level.  The lack of air makes Coloradans’ bodies work harder than the normal athlete. Some of the best athletes in the country, like Katie Rainsberger, do so well in competitions at a lower elevation because on a regular basis they push their bodies as hard they can, training at 6,000 feet.  This is definitely evident with champions like Katie, who recently won the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, and is now going to run next year for the Oregon Ducks.  

Along with the higher altitude, Colorado Springs has some of the most unpredictable weather in the state. One minute you could be in shorts and a tank top, and the next you’re having to pull on your Under Armour and dig through your bag to find some hand warmers. Due to this unreliable weather, our athletes are conditioned to play their best in 80 degrees with 10 layers of sunscreen or in 20 degrees with 15 mile an hour winds. Additionally, sometimes these conditions are a matter of minutes apart, so athletes know their coaches aren’t joking when they tell them to “pack layers.” Zach Reed, an Air Academy sophomore says, “It’s a different atmosphere to play in with the weather and the altitude.”

The weather isn’t the only thing that athletes dread here. Resting steeply in Manitou Springs is everyone’s favorite leg workout. The Incline. With 2,744 steps of abandoned tracks and a 2,000-foot climb in elevation, it’s the best leg workout in the whole state. Not only do these athletes know it, but so do their coaches. What helps someone get an edge on the competition like hiking a mile at a 41% incline (68% at it’s highest) in under an hour? Nothing! And what makes that hike even better? Being passed three times by Olympic athletes like Apolo Anton Ohno, who train on the incline several days a week and can run it 4 times in the same time it takes you to run it once!

But it isn’t just the incline that attracts Olympic athletes to our beautiful city, it’s the Olympic Training Center that is right in the middle of downtown Colorado Springs! Our city hosts quite a few Olympic athletes in their off season. Nothing will get a teenage swimmer motivated like brushing up against Michael Phelps during a warm up lap in the OTC pool. Luke Louthan, an Air Academy freshman, says, “There are so many opportunities and I am extremely blessed to play in this great city.”  

Not only do their bodies have an amazing advantage because of the ‘Springs, but our athletes also get to play in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. “It’s a blessing, lots of fun, and who doesn’t want to play sports with the mountains in their backyard?” says Peter Steigerwald, an Air Academy freshman.  With painted skies and Pikes Peak right in our backyards, it’s easy to push through the thin air, crazy weather, and intense training when you’re in such a beautiful town.