oxygen supplementation

I was reading Lore of Running (great book btw) and they have a section on oxygen supplementation. They claimed that it was tested in the early 20th century and it allowed 1908? olympic 800m runners to run times equal to their PB in the 800m and under (-.5) their 400m PB in time trials at practice. Runners noticed that they could sprint longer without fatigue.

The caveat was that you were supposed to breathe the concentrated oxygen for 2 minutes then run within 2 minutes before the effects waned. They noted that Bannister was playing around with this in his training before his 4min mile attack.

What is the consensus on this? I’ve never tried it.

I can just picture the runners marching out onto the track carrying their oxygen bottle with them. :smiley:

There has been a decent amount of research on hyperoxia (as opposed to hypoxia). This was done by breathing air with greater than 21% oxygen. The general consensus is that in short events, 30 seconds or so, performance is unaffected. However, in events where the rate of oxidative phosphorylation is a determining factor in performance, performance can be enhanced. There have been several studies were training in hyperoxic conditions was compared to training in normal conditions. While the hyperoxic group performed more work than the normoxic group in training, performance in normoxic conditions improved equally in both groups. It seems that improved intensity is offset by the decreased adaptive hypoxic signaling at the cellular level. However, there seems to be contradictory findings. The subjects in most of the studies were all fairly high trained endurance athletes (VO2 ~65 ml/kg/min).

So, to answer your question, acute exercise performance can be enhanced in conditions of elevated oxygen concentrations. Breathing in oxygen from a can before your race might work for 400, 800, or 1500m, but I would suspect you’d have to breathe in the gas up until the start of the gun. I’d think that the excess O2 would be out of the body before the end of longer events. But, I don’t know. It’s worth a try.

Have there been any studies on oxygen for recovery? Seems like it would be most helpful to a boxer between rounds.

It might slow down the respiration rate, as it is controlled by co2.

Never really thought about this before, but if you go to quality ski shops you can get small O2 cannisters meant for emergencies (i.e., trapped by an avalanche) that supply roughly 5-7 minutes worth of oxygen. I would think Canadians would be quite familiar with these.

So, if you’re running 400, you could be downing O2 right at the blocks the same way some sprinters are downing water or Red Bull right at the blocks.

Does this make sense? And if Wariner did this and ran, say, 43.16, would IAAF ratify the result?

Not sure. Anecdotally, I think I remember seeing/reading that some NFL players use oxygen masks in between series. I don’t believe it has been shown to be effective.