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Science, sport and landscape: The development of high-altitude training methods after 1945.
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2914-4476
Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Today, most elite endurance athletes use high-altitude training to some extent. For at least the last 40 years, it has been linked to increased performance. But how was high-altitude training established as a means of improving performance? And how did the scientific approach to altitude differ from the traditional, natural valuation of mountains as a site for training? In this essay, these questions are addressed.High-altitude training was introduced in sports in the post-war period. During the 1960s, it became a highly contested method, with controversies between scientists, athletes, doctors, sport organizations and coaches. What ideas about altitude and performance were important in this process? What type of scientific hypotheses led scientists and sport practitioners towards increasing high-altitude training? Interestingly, those within sports who rejected the scientific, ‘machine-like’ training methods also often valued the mountains. Famous Swedish coach Gösta Olander is one example. He was the most influential protagonist of the natural training method in Sweden, and his base was in Vålådalen (in Jämtland, near Östersund and Åre). Both Swedish (e.g. Sixten Jernberg, Gunder Hägg) and international athletes (e.g. Michel Jazy and Michel Bernard) came to Vålådalen. The fresh mountain air and scenic surroundings were important as a place for training camps, but scientists later demystified the mountains via scientific explanations about increased oxygen uptake and increasing hemoglobin levels in the blood. Vålådalen became a center not only for natural training, but also for scientific monitoring, testing and evaluation.And the setting of international standards regarding high-altitude training had a political aspect, as the issue was addressed when white runners from low altitude were threatened by the results of mainly runners from high altitude countries like Kenya and Ethiopia.Focusing on the Swedish case, we will analyze the scientific interest in high-altitude training for sports. Especially, we will study the links between science, military and sports.

Keyword [en]
Mountains, sport, high-altitude training, Harvard Fatigue Lab, skiing, Per-Olof Åstrand, Gösta Olander, Bengt Saltin
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-195728OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-195728DiVA: diva2:1045345
Projects
Rationell träning
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports
Note

English version of a chapter published in French in the following publication: 

Svensson, D. and Sörlin, S. (2015). ‘Science, Sport et Environnement : le développement des techniques d’entraînement en altitude depuis 1945’ in Quin, Grégory and Bohuon, Anaïs (eds.), Les Liaisons Dangereuses de la Médicine et du Sport. Paris: Éditions Glyphe, pp. 195-214.

QC 20161114

Available from: 2016-11-09 Created: 2016-11-09 Last updated: 2016-11-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Scientizing performance in endurance sports: The emergence of ‘rational training’ in cross-country skiing, 1930-1980
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Scientizing performance in endurance sports: The emergence of ‘rational training’ in cross-country skiing, 1930-1980
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Vetenskapliggörandet av prestation inom konditionsidrott : Framväxten av 'rationell träning' för längdskidåkning, 1930-1980
Abstract [en]

Elite athletes of today use specialized, scientific training methods and the increasing role of science in sports is undeniable. Scientific methods and equipment has even found its way into the practice of everyday exercisers, a testament to the impact of sport science. From the experiential, personal training regimes of the first half of the 20th century to the scientific training theories of the 1970s, the ideas about training and the athletic body shifted.

The rationalization process started in endurance sports in the 1940s. It was part of a struggle between two models of training; natural training and rational training. Physiologists wanted to rid training of individual and local variations and create a universal model of rational, scientific training. The rationalization of training and training landscapes is here understood as an aspect of sportification, a theory commonly used to describe similar developments in sports where increasing regimentation, specialization and rationalization are among the main criteria. This dissertation adds the concept of technologies of sportification to explain the role that micro-technologies and practices (such as training logs, training camps and scientific tests) have in the scientization of training.

This thesis thus sets out to analyze the role that science has played in training during the 20th century. It is a history about the rationalization of training, but also about larger issues regarding the role of personal, experiential knowledge and scientific knowledge. The main conclusions are that the process of scientization never managed to rid training of components from natural, experiential training, and that the effort by Swedish physiologists to introduce rational training was part of the larger rationalization movement at the time. In the end, training knowledge was a co-production between practitioners and theoreticians, skiers and scientists.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. 65 p.
Series
TRITA-HOT, ISSN 0349-2842 ; 2072
Keyword
History, environmental history, history of science, history of technology, landscape studies, cross-country skiing, Nordic skiing, endurance physiology, sport history, sportification, scientization, sport physiology, sport science, Sweden
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-195830 (URN)978-91-7729-205-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-12-09, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Rationell träning: vetenskapliggörandet äv träning för längdskidåkning
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in SportsMistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental ResearchSwedish Environmental Protection Agency
Note

QC 20161114

Available from: 2016-11-14 Created: 2016-11-10 Last updated: 2016-11-15Bibliographically approved

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