(Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2013)
As we begin to adapt to new situations and/ or circumstances, it is probable our performances will improve. The acclimatization process can be critical for all athletes alike, including you or I. Studies indicate there are positive differences in performance when athletes are properly prepared for competition. Preparation may include conditioning the athlete in a particular climate, altitude, terrain, at a certain speed, for a certain distance, in a particular arena, or for a particular opponent. Regardless, the adaptation typically does not happen overnight. According to most research, the acclimatization process can take anywhere from 7 days to several weeks, with an average of 7-14 days. This is the length of time our bodies need in order to adapt and perform optimally.
A fitting example would be an individual (such as you or I) looking to run a 5K morning race through the streets of San Francisco in the month of January. Here’s what we know:
- The race is a about 1.5 months away
- The distance is 3.11 miles (5 km)
- The terrain will be pavement (probably uneven) and with hills
- The weather will be cold (mid to low 40s) & the air damp from moisture
Acclimatization can be applied to numerous settings aside from just running. Looking to join a summer tennis league? Matches can last up to hours in the heat, requiring constant bursts of energy. By getting out to the courts and practicing as the weather begins warming up you’ll gradually condition your body’s cooling mechanisms & improve energy efficiency. Preparing for an upcoming MMA fight in Reno, NV? For a San Jose native, going from less than 400 ft. to over 4,000 ft. in elevation will certainly be a factor of performance worth considering. By arriving 1-2 weeks earlier & gradually incorporating more demanding bouts of training you’ll notice an improvement in oxygen efficiency from increases in blood volume. Planning on joining an indoor basketball league? Games can be played at a fast pace, requiring moderate-to-advanced levels of agility, coordination, & reaction skills. By practicing agility & reaction drills on your own time, as well as attending pre-season team practices chances are, you’ll have improved your body’s neuromuscular coordination resulting in faster reaction times, improved accuracy, and greater movement efficiency. These are just a few of the many examples where acclimating our bodies can be a significant factor in improving our overall performance.
As we prepare to begin the New Year, many of us will be setting our sights on new fitness & performance goals. Instead of waiting until the last minute to prepare, or worse yet, failing to prepare at all, make it a point to start early. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” –Benjamin Franklin
Interested in learning more? We invite you to contact us to learn more about how acclimatization may help improve your next performance.