I think I’d like to do a series of posts on my particular training days every week. Each week I do a Hill day, a Temp Day, and a Long Run day; actually the next important one is my “day after the long run day”, or “back to back” day. This is the core of my training, and has been for about 3 years now – of course I fill in the other days with medium distance, medium pace miles. So that said, this post will talk about probably the most complex day; Hill day.
For the most part, hill day is my least favorite run of the week; Why? Because it’s really hard! I dread that day, which usually is Tuesday.
For a few years now I’ve continually adjusted my hill day location, pace, climb, and reps. I’ve ranged from very anaerobic climbs of .5 miles, to easy climbs of .25 miles, with more reps. Always a warm up and cool down of at most 4 miles, at least .5 miles. As you can see, I keep altering my approach on this; I’ll explain my current thoughts shortly.
Current approach is .5 miles to a local toboggan run, then 10-15 reps medium up, hard down - .5 cool off. NOT a long run at all, but a tough one!
My reasoning however, that hill day is a very beneficial one, is the following:
1) Hill day builds strong uphill leg mechanics. Lately I’ve worked on keeping my uphill pace moderate to slow – short stride, high cadence, and exaggerated arm movement. I believe that the climbs I do of about 80 feet in about .12 miles (fairly steep) really builds leg muscles, which help with Ultra style local trail courses of steep, but very short hills. Maybe I could argue that if I really wanted to be specific, I’d walk up the hill, but I can’t bring myself to do it.
2) Hills are tough to run up, and even though my pace is not hard, by the time I’m up, my heart is pounding, and I’m mostly anaerobic – so in a way similar to intervals, albeit short ones, helping on the cardio front and adding to overall fitness.
3) A steep uphill grade really lightens the abuse on your legs; however the steep downward run is tough on them! But necessary; any ultra runner that’s run down the backside of sugarloaf at Leadville understands this one – 4 or 5 miles of very steep downward, thigh pounding terrain.
4) The downward run is ultra specific – again, good thigh work.
So, that’s it – a short run of late really, but combines anaerobic short intervals with the benefit of uphill leg strengthening, and downhill training. And afterward, not even the reward of knowing you at least put on some miles! But I do think it’s an important day for any distance from 5K to 100 miles.
Another good week for me (knock on wood) – 26.2 street on Saturday morning followed up by 10 or more in the evening, then 7 trails Sunday morning with the fur ball. I’m still working the marathon every Saturday approach, at least until my body says to stop it (alternating street with trails), but so far it’s gone fairly well. Saturday I just went out easy, and kept a moderate to easy pace (No BQ’ing on this one Trail Slammer!)– 3:50 with about 10 minutes of breaks, so right around 4 hours, which was exactly the plan – and the rest of the day I felt fine, 10 in the evening on the trail. Next time I’ll discuss my second toughest run, the tempo run – did one last night in fact, but stretched it out to 11 hard.