XC Skiing with Oxygen

Galena, Idaho is about 7500 MSL.  As a pilot, I often fly BELOW this altitude and use supplemental oxygen.  So, being at 7500 feet and exercising was a perfect opportunity to test out the use of our portable oxygen bottle to see the impact on my body.  

It has been a slow year of exercise with the kids being at home and our business sales growing.  Typically, we do a few Ragnar / Cirque / Ski 2 Sea competitions during the year to keep in shape, but this year has definitely not included any of those crowded activities.  I'm not overweight, but my lungs and cardio is not ready to jump right into 5-10 mile hard blue and black XC trails.  

So, I put my oxygen bottle in my small backpack and routed the single prong cannula to my mouth.  I was concerned about looking like a COVID patient with our soft dual prong cannula, so I elected to use this single prong cannula instead.  I also placed it in the corner of my mouth instead of my nose because it appeared more like a water hose and because it allowed me to breathe through my mouth.

I jumped right into the trail with no warm up - per my usual bad practice.  My immediate experience was that my lungs had no issue with the exercise.  Breathing didn't feel different, but my lungs were fresh without any burn or gasping.  I was able to do a full 5 miles without any breathing fatigue.  My legs, arms, and stomach were a little sore, but also felt better than expected.  

As far as appearance, I definitely had some looks of curiosity as I had tube that looked a little different than a water straw.  I also had the small bottle in my very small backpack, so it probably wasn't clear what the cannula was dispensing. 

As far as weight, at 1.9 lbs full, I didn't feel any heavier and the extra power I got from use was more than offsetting to this small increase in load.  The cannula was a little unruly over my shoulder, so next time I would tuck in the excess length more to prevent this coiling.

I know that there are purists out there that would argue this is somehow unfair or a performance enhancement drug.  To that I say, I'm not training to win anything and have no sponsors.  I'm just a middle aged man trying to keep in shape and not have a heart attach while doing it.  It's funny, because in aviation there is the absolutely opposite feeling about oxygen - it is a must and should be worn as often as possible to maximize the performance - both cognitively and physically.  That being said, I will probably lean off of the oxygen use as the season gets going and my body gets more adapted.

We've got a few oxygen bottles left if you are interested in talking with us.  Stop by and visit on your way out of Ketchum to the backcountry.  Located on N. Main St. just across from Knob Hill Hotel.