Faster breathing and a racing pulse – even at an altitude of just 600 metres, lower air pressure means that the body has to work a lot harder to achieve the same performance as it would on lower ground. It has the positive effect of improving the transport of oxygen, which in turn enhances sporting performance. Pro athletes love the entirely natural “doping” that occurs when the body adjusts to lower oxygen levels.
And as she explains, it’s not just because of the increase in performance: “What’s so special about it is that here in the valley, you’re already at 1,800 metres; just another 100 metres more and you reach the tree line. From there, you have an uninterrupted view of fantastic panoramas. If it weren’t for the fantastic trails, I would love to just stand there and gaze into the distance.” Runners can choose from numerous trail running routes around St. Moritz with a range of natural surfaces for full-body training that increases coordination and response times with every step.
But remember – at an altitude of 1,000 metres, athletes can expect a 2 to 4 percent drop in performance, with at least a 4 percent forfeit at 2,000 metres. Flammersfeld can confirm this from her own experience. “You can only adapt to conditions to 90 percent. Even after the recommended acclimatisation phase of two to four days, you will be down 10 percent on your theoretical performance level. But on the up side, you can make the most of the Engadin alpine climate and cool off in a refreshing mountain lake after your run.”