Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Easy 10 miler and thoughts on hill training

When I said yesterday that I was going to run 10.5 on the way home, I forgot that one new section that I was adding to my normal route also chopped off some other distance. So, the run ended up being only 9.9 miles. My legs were a bit tired from lifting on Monday, but it wasn't too bad. I'll lift again tonight, but I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's run. It's supposed to be 60F+ and sunny and I'm planning 12 miles along the shore of Lake Champlain. It should be beautiful.

On the ultra list, people have been talking about hill running and training recently. Over the years, I've come up with some techniques that seem to help me get ready for really hilly races.

Once the snow clears, once or twice a week, I'll get up at a ridiculously early time and drive to the mountain where I teach skiing. I'll hike up one of the service roads to the summit and then run back down. It takes me about 1:50 to do that workout early in the year and my times drop to about 1:35 as my hill strength improves. I know my climbing is going well when I can summit in less than an hour. My descents are strong if I'm in the 35-37 minute range.

The first time or two that I do that workout, I will be sore for a few days. My quads will be trashed from the downhill and sore to the touch. But, after just a couple times, my muscles seem to adapt pretty well and the soreness doesn't recur.

Then, after I've done that workout a few times, if I have a hilly race planned early in the year, I head to Mount Mansfield on a weekend. The timing is key for this workout, because I use a 4+ mile long auto road to the top of the mountain. If I go too early in the year, the road is still snow covered. If I go too late, the road is open to auto traffic and foot traffic is prohibited. My goal is to do a triple ascent on this road. I hike up and then run down at a very easy pace. Last year, I did this workout on May 3rd and we hit more snow than I would have liked on the road. It took me 6:27 for three trips. Each ascent took 79-85 minutes and the descents were close to a 10 mpm pace. The total ascent is 7800 vertical feet. After I do that workout, I feel ready for a course like WS or VT. It wouldn't be enough for Hardrock or Wasatch, and for those races, I did some much tougher training days where I did at least 12,000 feet of ascent and the same amount of descent.

Lastly, as my race approaches, I will do longer runs on Saturdays and then do mountain hikes on Sundays. The hikes are at an easy pace, but I make sure to get thousands of feet of technical vertical terrain on days that I'm tired.

That's what's worked for me in the past. I hope it works this year.

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