Bringing the African experience indoors

Laura Weightman in an acclimatisation tent.
Laura Weightman in an acclimatisation tent.

It’s not your usual type of bedroom decor, but Olympian Laura Weightman is trying to give her training an extra boost by sleeping in a special tent.

The 22-year-old has been using the acclimatisation equipment for more than a week to prepare herself for a five-week block of warm-weather, high-altitude training in Kenya.

The kit helps to reduce the percentage of oxygen she breathes in, so her body can cope with the lower oxygen levels she will encounter during her stint in Africa.

By her own admission, it is a strange experience.

But the Lesbury athlete is hoping it can give her the edge overseas.

“The tent simulates being in Kenya with the aim of acclimatising more quickly,” said Laura on Monday.

“I have got my mattress in the tent and I have been sleeping in there.

“I am in there for about eight to 10 hours a day and I have been at altitude for 10 days.

“Hopefully it will help me adjust more quickly when I am in Kenya and help me to get the most out of my training block.

“I have never slept in an altitude tent before so it will be good to see how my body responds to it.

“Being in the tent is quite a strange experience.

“You don’t really notice that you’re at altitude when you’re in the tent, although hopefully I will notice the difference when I am over in Kenya. But the machine is quite noisy.”

Weightman is flying out to Kenya today and will be training at the renowned High Altitude Training Centre in Iten.

The base is used by Kenya’s distance runners and Weightman will be joining other British athletes over there.

Coach Steve Cram is also set to join her for part of the trip.

She said: “It is going to be a tough few weeks.

“It is high up, but hopefully I can get a good solid training block in and feel the benefits from what is a tough environment.”

The Kenyan stint is part of her winter training and she is aiming to do another altitude camp in the spring, possibly in America.

Last month, she was part of the gold medal-winning Great Britain and Northern Ireland U23 women’s team at the European Cross-country Championships.

Weightman is working hard for what is a big summer season ahead, with the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, and the European Championships in Zurich.