Resource Wednesday: Training For A Mountain Race When You Live In A Valley
With Transrockies coming up for me, my planning is going into over drive to make sure all the details are in place. I am meeting a group of friends in Denver and we are heading to the race start in Buena Vista from there. Details are being thrown around like which car size to rent and what is the best logo for our shirts. It’s going to be amazing.
It also is going to be hilly.
I cycled and trekked 25,000 ft of elevation gain at the Equinox Traverse and if you recall, it went passably for me, but I certainly could have used some extra hill training. This race will be 20,000 ft of elevation gain but at a much higher altitude.
I am doing what I can to train for the hills and altitude but the issue is that I live in flattish South Western Ontario where our biggest hills are considered flat terrain in the Rockies so I am going for the next best thing.
Mountain simulation on the treadmill.
At least once a week, I head to my local Goodlife and hop on the treadmill and after a sufficient warm up, launch headlong into hill repeats that leave me gasping for breath and fellow gym goers casting concerned glances my way.
Last week, I did a workout that absolutely destroyed me but I kept reminding myself that it was the best thing I can do to prepare myself for the race. It was the kind of workout that leaves you feeling hollow and with shaking legs.
I texted a friend from my team who always manages to smack talk me and I have edited the response to keep this blog PG, but I think we all can agree that I have work to do…
The workout was an easy warm up of about 15 minutes followed by 8 hill repeats at 4 minutes each. I started with the incline at 10 % for the first two because I always try to start my quality work conservatively and finish strong. I ran the following two at 12% and the final 4 at 15% followed by a 15 minute cool down and stretch.
Aside from hill training, I have also begun mixing in the stair climber to my strength routines as well as adding under water swimming my workout mix. There is controversy over the benefits of hypoxic training for altitude (see a great article in the resources on this) but I figure increasing my lung capacity a bit can only help!
Even if you are not planning a mountain stage race in your future, training on hills is a great idea for runners. Having a mixture of short, explosive hill sprints as well as longer hill climbs and rolling hills in your long runs will help to prepare you for the demands of most races. Running hills also helps develop additional power in your legs which helps you to run fast.
What are your thoughts on hills, love ‘em or hate ‘em?
Everything You Need To Know About Hill Training – It’s all in the title. Literally everything you could possibly want to know on the topic.
How Effective Are Altitude Tents? – A great exploration of studies on the topic, bringing in that all-important placebo affect.
Training For Hills When There Aren’t Any – Another list of great suggestions on what to do when you live in a valley.