A few weeks ago I ran in Breckenridge, Colo., elevation 9,600 feet. Beyond my injured foot and leg, I had a tough time getting enough air — oxygen? — to run comfortably. Run. Walk. Walk. Run. And so on. I’m told that over time you adjust to the altitude and your lungs stop burning. Maybe I’ll spend enough time in Breckenridge or elsewhere in Colorado some day to actually test that.
But while I was on the elliptical trainer this morning I was thinking about the United States soccer team that is in Mexico City today for a key World Cup qualifying match with Mexico.
The venue: Estadio Azteca, a massive bowl that houses more than 100,000 spectators and sits at 7,200 feet above sea level.
Good luck to the U.S. team — in a lot of ways.
According to an article in The New York Times yesterday — “In Mexico, a Soccer Stadium Where Visitors Tend to Gasp” — the U.S. team has never won in Mexico. Record: 0-18-1. And in four decades, writes Jere Longman, Mexico has lost only one World Cup qualifying match at Azteca — to Costa Rica in 2001.
I’m not sure what the incremental difference is between running/playing soccer at 7,200 feet and 9,600 feet — but something tells me that not even a professional athlete can adapt that quickly or easily.
Oh well. It should be interesting to see what happens.
And Saturday I am planning to make my return to the concrete running route in Copley, altitude 955 feet.