Thursday, 31 May 2012

The last 2 days - hill training and shorter faster runs

Ready to head out for tonight's run with Negrita
Tuesday, having arrived back late the previous evening from a long weekend in Madrid I decided was to be a rest day from running.  I was too tired to face yoga at lunchtime as well, and as it turned out the class was cancelled anyway.  However, when you are training for an ultra like the Ticino Trail you can't afford too many rest days like that, so I decided to kick start things again as of yesterday.

My training yesterday was split between a lunchtime 3k timed run and the group coaching session with Jeff in the evening.

At lunchtime I got confused by the fact that my Garmin was reading in miles instead of kilometres, and ended up going off way to fast, before I realised what had happened.  Then I didn't know how far I should run in miles in order to have run 3k, and didn't want to play around with the settings whilst running, so in the end I did just over 3k.  To be precise I did 3.13k in 12:24.

Then yesterday evening was my weekly coached session with Jeff Grant.  It was the first lesson of Series 4, and Jeff decided to focus on hill training.  After a short warmup we did a benchmark test that he will use at the end of Series 4 to see if we have improved.  It was a short run around part of the field that is next to the Saalsporthalle and then at the end there was an uphill section.  The final section was steep enough that if you hadn't paced yourself well till that point and left some reserves, you were a little bit screwed.  I completed the test in 6:04 and at the end of Series 4 I will post my new time so you can see my improvement (or not as the case may be).  There were 3 people who beat me in the benchmark test.  Two of them I thought might beat me and then there was a new guy that turned up.  He was a short Mexican guy and he ran like Speedy Gonzales.  I bet he had consumed a few handfuls of Chia seeds before starting.

After the benchmark test and a huge hailstorm (the weather is so unpredictable at the moment), we started with hill sprints using a series of cones laid out on 3 spokes.  One of the "spokes" was actually downhill and it may surprise some of you, but downhill running can actually be a valuable tool in your training repertoire.  For a start, running downhill makes you good at running downhill.  This can be important if you are going to do a race that includes some downhill sections (which the Ticino Trail will in copious amounts).  Running downhill also helps to increase your leg turnover speed (which is why it is often used by sprinters), and last but not least it makes your muscles stronger and so you are less likely to suffer from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).  Like any new element of training it must be added gradually to your schedule to avoid risk of injury.  Too much too soon can be a very bad idea.

Upon completing the hill sprints we headed back to the Saalsporthalle to do a few stretches (even more important than usual after hill training) and then the lesson was over and we dispersed as quickly as we had come together one hour earlier.

Todays training also consisted of 2 parts.  At lunchtime I ran 7k with 3 of my colleagues (if you recall I have a lot of colleagues who have taken up running in the last half year or so).  Then tonight I went out for a 6k run with Negrita - why walk your dog when you can run with your dog I say.  Negrita has had a new haircut as you can see in the photo above, and looks ever so smart and cute.  I am sure it is also better for her to run like this, as she won't get so hot as before.  It also shows off how lean she is.  A lean mean running machine.  Both runs were down in my Vibram Fivefingers.

What will tomorrow's training include?  I am not sure yet, but most likely I will run to work and then I have my one to one Pilates class in the evening.  There is also a fitness store opening near work, and they are giving people the chance to try out Kangoo Jumps, so I may go there at lunchtime to try them out, and drag along one or two of my sporty colleagues.


  1. If you click on the link you will see. The orange indicates that it is a hyperlink x

  2. I love that there was a Mexican that ran fast. I still like Speedy Gonzales after all these years. :) Any tips on running hills? I am starting a 10K Training that starts to concentrate on hill training after a few weeks into the course. I could use any advice.

  3. Thanks for dropping by again Mr Determined :)).

    First thing I would say about hills is that you need to add them step by step to your training. If you have never done hill training before and then suddenly start doing it several times per week you are likely to get injured. Once per week if you are new to them is perfectly sufficient.

    The next point I would like to address is how you approach them from a mental point of view. It helps if you can always approach them with a positive mental attitude. Even if you hate hills, try to find some good point e.g. nice scenery along the way. On Wednesday when a big hailstorm came, coach Jeff was trying to teach us how to see the positive in situations we don't usually like. So he pointed out the beautiful double rainbow and the fact that if it hadn't rained/hailed we would never have got to see that. Also try breaking the hill down into manageable chunks. So instead of seeing it as a 1km hill see it as 10 x 100m of hill. That really helps to tackle it.

    Now in terms of technique tips for hill training I would say try to keep yourself upright and running tall. A lot of us have a tendency to lean forward when running up hills and that can place a lot of strain on the lower back. I had a lot of lower back ache when I started running lots of hills. I managed to reduce that through regular Pilates and yoga. I would also say try to focus on small quick steps rather than trying to bound up the hill. This will also help to increase your leg turnover rate in general, even when you are running on the flat.

    The benefits of hill training are many, so I think the plan you are following is a good one. Keep up the good work and I hope you get the time you are looking for in your next race. Even if you don't, there is always the next one.

    1. Thanks for the tips, I will definitely use them once we add hills to our training in a few weeks. Thankfully we will only be doing hills once a week since we are beginners. I'm trying to focus on being positive of the benefits of hills since I find them intimidating. However you're right, I'm sure there will be something positive to focus on them while I do them.