Monday, January 12, 2015

The Mask

"If you had one word to describe how I look in the training mask, what would it be?" I asked Eli 13.5

"Bane," he said without pausing. That's fair.

I have a unique workout problem. My heart is strong, and my breathing is very strong, but my body is made out of pretzel sticks. I get injured at exertion levels that are way, way too low to challenge my heart.

That's one of the reasons I swim--harder effort possible without additional strain on the body. But I recently did something to a stomach muscle while swimming (incredibly), so now I'm walking on a treadmill until it heals.

We were in a sporting goods store two weeks ago and I saw an altitude training mask. I've never even seen one at the retail level. It's called the elevation training mask, and it's supposed to simulate training at altitudes from 3k to 18k feet.

It's very simple. It basically looks like an oxygen mask with a velcro sleeve to secure it on your face. There are plastic discs with openings on the front of the mask. You get several sets of discs, and each one has a different number of openings. When you want more difficulty, you just replace the discs for a set that has fewer openings.

I started out with the 3k discs, and while it certainly felt strange the first time I used it, the mask was surprisingly comfortable. If you're claustrophobic, forget about it, but if you're not, it's an interesting experience, and it certainly makes exercise more difficult.

Today I put in the 6k elevation discs for the first time, and it was a noticeable difference. I felt like I was having to work much harder, even though the treadmill pace was unchanged. At 18k, I assume I would just be just sucking fumes and then passing out on the treadmill.

This isn't cheap (it's $80), and it's certainly a niche product, but it seems well made and it's improved my workouts without additional strain on my balsa wood body.

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