THE ASTRONOMICAL FALL SEASON BEGAN on September 22. There will be less available daylight, which means more running sessions may be performed in darkness. The weather will eventually turn a bit wetter too, and there may be interest in finding workouts that make the best use of outdoor time.
Jason Fitzgerald offers great coaching advice about how to train using hill repeats in an article for RunningCompetitor.com, “3 Key Hill Workouts That Target Speed, Strength, and Endurance”. These shorter sessions may help us adjust to autumnal conditions. Fitzgerald first outlines WHY hill training can be more beneficial to runners than sticking to flat terrain. It:
Next, the USATF certified coach explains three different hill sessions: 1) long repeats on lower hills (4-5% incline), 2) short repeats on steeper inclines (6-8%), and 3) sprints on the steepest hill to be found. Very importantly he identifies how each workout fits into a training plan. For beginners #1 is recommended and should be considered a part of base training.
The article is filled with expert and detailed information. If running or walking hills does not fit into your current Fall training regimen, you might be helping yourself by filing it for future use.
Darkness and precipitation will lead some runners to take workouts indoors; some might question if these hill workouts can be run on a treadmill. Coach Jenny Hadfield’s piece in RunnersWorld.com “What Incline Should I Use On My Treadmill?” in 2009 explains how the settings on this piece of equipment work. Hadfield’s answer to the reader’s question includes comments on training for a specific hilly race. She also provides instruction on how to gradually transition from treadmill-only to outdoor road running.
My preference for outdoor hill repeats originated from a personal quest for workouts that did not take me far away from car or home in inclement weather, or from a hotel in an unfamiliar setting. If conditions were too chilly or wet to continue as long as needed to complete the session, I wanted to be not too distant from a dry and warm location. The same was true if I was traveling and needed a safe route. With hill repeats I could drive to a parking structure with a ramp and be nearly within sight of my vehicle. Or walk out the door of my home, or hotel or place I was visiting if there was a hill nearby.
Even if you are not thrilled with the concept of hill repeats for the purpose of building strength, think of them as shorter distance but high-value runs that might rescue a skipped training session because of weather conditions or other circumstances. Be sure to follow Fitzgerald’s directions to avoid injury.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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