Hanna Nilsson is on altitude training camp in Livigno, until 10 June. She joined the team over there on 24 May and is now continuing the training individually. For the 29-year-old Swedish rider it’s her first altitude training camp ever.
“Luckily, my coach has experience with training on altitude, so I can rely on the training schedule he gave me”, says Hanna Nilsson. “The first week I kept relatively calm, because that was a period to acclimatize. After one week my body had adjusted and it was already easier to breathe. From then on the intensity of my trainings was raised and I started training on higher altitudes, where the air is thinner.”
Training on altitude requires some time to adjust to the training environment, but also during the training camp a rider needs to monitor his or her health.
Hanna Nilsson: “Every morning I do my health checks. I measure my heart rate and heart rate variability, like I do every day of the year actually. I also check my oxygen saturation to see how much oxygen I have in my blood. On altitude you also need to make sure you drink sufficiently. That’s something you can check by looking at the color of your urine. The air is very dry here and I am constantly thirsty. Also, when I talk to someone on the phone I immediately get a dry throat.”
“When I return to sea level I will also need time to adjust again. I’m not expecting to be at my best until after ten to twelve days. But this varies from person to person. I am curious to see how my body responds to this and how I can benefit from a training camp in the future too.”
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This Sunday Hanna Nilsson will be riding the Flanders Diamond Tour in Nijlen. From 22 until 25 June she will be participating in the Lotto Belgium Tour. Afterwards, she will be going to the Giro d’Italia. That race starts on Friday 2 July. In 2017, Hanna finished 14th overall. What are her ambitions for this year’s edition?
Hanna Nilsson: “At training camp, I constantly have the Giro in mind. I would like to put my goals higher than a top 20, but we start with a team time trial that’s almost twice as long as previous years so that means bigger time gaps after the first day. In case I lose too much time in the team time trial, I will aim for top 10 or top 5 on the stages. And then I could also regain time on GC.”
But now the last days of training camp for Nilsson. How do these days and training look like?
“My trainer has made me a training schedule, but I do make my own routes with Garmin Connect based on the time, amount of kilometres, altitude meters and other parameters I received from my coach”, says Hanna Nilsson. “I cover about 2000 to 3000 altitude meters per day. I already climbed the Stelvio and Bormio 2000 the past days. In between trainings I take time to recover. I also love to go for a walk here, to enjoy nature and the silence. I watch some Swedish series and the first week I watched the World Championships Ice Hockey. Ice hockey is a huge sport in Sweden, so I cheered on my country.”