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Hill Training

April 5, 2011

I used to hate running uphill…Now I hate it less!  I’m training hard for the La Jolla Half Marathon taking place on Sunday, April 17, and in order to be successful on this race, you MUST practice hills because there are so many of them!  The course is no joke, and I was definitely intimidated when I signed up.  Check out the changes in elevation!  The Torrey Pines hill is approximately 1.2 miles long and climbs 420 feet between miles 5.5 and 7.0 for an approximate 6.5% grade.

La Jolla Half Course Map

Our running group has recently started hill training, but a small group of us have branched off to form a Torrey Pines hill running group.   We’ve been running up and down the hill twice in a row to get in a 6 mile run and condition our legs for the upcoming race.  It’s always tougher the second time up, and I try to remind myself not to go too hard on the way down. It’s tempting, but you want your quads to maintain!  I do not want another AFC moment…In mile 10 of the half marathon, I lost all steam going uphill.  Apparently I didn’t train hard enough.

Now for some hill tips, courtesy of our Vavi running coach, Blake Miller.  Thanks, Blake!

Physiologically & Mentally & Mechanically
 Builds strength in Quads, Glutes & Core and tendons & ligaments.
– Increase in Aerobic Capacity (nearing V02max workouts)
– Increases your Running Economy (oxygen usage over distance)
– Breaks up the usual routine & forces you to adapt to different stresses.
– Increases & improves ankle & joint flexion

How To Run Hills – Going Up?
– Cadence?  Stays the same!
– Pace?  Will have to drop some -> Stride length shortens. 
– Strive for equal effort, not pace.
– Posture stays upright w/ slight lean in reference to the ground.)
– Avoid “toeing” off with toes/calves.  Keep a consistent “fall forward”. 
– Increase your arm movement & action as needed – envision “pumping” through the hill.
 
How To – Going Down?
Cadence?  Stays the same!
– Pace?  Will increase -> Stride length naturally lengthens (don’t allow too much!)
– Biggest mistake that most make is going too fast, sprinting or over striding. 
– Quads will be undergoing major “Eccentric Contraction” (EC = elongation while under tension, deceleration / braking action)
– Posture remains upright w/ slight lean (but will be more “downhill”)
– Allow feet/lower half to “fall” under you. Let gravity work for you!
– Trick is to balance a “falling” over your feet and quad contraction.

Saturday will be the longest run of my life (14+ miles) and guess what?  It includes the Torrey Pines hill!  With all this practice in addition to my P90X training, I better tackle this beast of a hill on race day!

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