The Hills have Secrets
Most of the time when people train for marathons their goal is to “just finish.” On race day most complete the daunting task of running 26.2 miles. 57% of those the complete their first marathon go on to run a second. If any of those people tell you that they don’t care if they beat their first time they are lying. Let’s talk about speed and endurance. People often say “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” How about in the literal sense? How fast should you run in a marathon? What is your distance pace? How can you run faster without getting tired? There are many wordy books that promise speed and endurance. But could it be as simple as finding some hills and incorporating them into your weekly training?
Yes! Running hills is speed work in disguise. Many running coaches are proponents of track sprints as a means to develop speed. Track sprints are great, however in the course of an endurance race you’re never going sprint. Not to mention, The tearing of your muscles through the course of sprint repeats. Running hills offer the same strength and conditioning benefits of track sprints without the risk of injury. Think of your hill workouts as a day of pumping iron at the gym. It truly is strength and power training. Fast runners have a very strong legs. In fact, most people cannot run great distances because their legs are not strong enough to carry them. Running hills is the perfect means to strengthen your legs to allow you to go the distance, and go the distance fast. So, how do we do it?
I like to keep things real simple. Find a hill, between a 30 to 40 degree grade, about 40 meters from start to finish. Start down at the bottom with some dynamic stretching. I prefer a reverse lunge. Do some warm-up sprints up the hill, keep your knees high, and your head up. Focus on consistent movement to the top of the hill. After you have done this three or four times and feel your body get warm it’s time to start the work out. Figure out your 85% workload Vo2 max by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying by .85 (During this strength conditioning your heart rate should not go above this number.) After each hill sprints measure your heart rate.
Now you are ready to begin. Position yourself at the base of the hill, and run to the top of the hill. Rest until your heart rate drops to 65% of Vo2 max (220-age•.65) Then trot down the hill and repeat. Depending on your fitness level, run as many sprints as you deem necessary. If this is your first go in hill training I recommend 5 to 7 sets. My veterans do workouts up to 30 because their oxygen uptake lets recover quickly and run more hills. It’s a classic example of the rich get richer. The better you’re conditioned, the more you can train, the faster and stronger you become. Don’t get frustrated, no one starts at 30 hill sprints. Patience, consistency, and passion drive your program. Detach from the results and focus on the footwork it takes to get there.
After you complete your hill sprint sets. I recommend a light run. Not too far and not to fast. Then 3 sets of push ups , 3 sets of crunches, and 3 sets of planks. (You can fill in the times, distances, and reps.) this whole workout should take no longer than one hour, and you should do this type of strength building twice a week, three days apart for optimal recovery.
This is the short version. If you want to know more about what I can do for you please reach out. There is a way to reach your goals, and I know how.
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