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Question about hills (Read 160 times)

haroldIII


    Hi, I'm a fairly inexperienced runner who just got into trail running. I did my first trail race this weekend, and although I didn't do too badly, there is definite room for improvement. My question is this: Here in Taiwan, it's either all flat or basically running up mountains. Is it better to find somewhere I can train that is a continual incline, or a shorter one I can go up and down? There aren't too many moderate hills here, especially if they're trails. 

    A related question is about downhills. I found racing down the slopes much more punishing on my legs than going up. Is there any way to minimize that? Any techniques or strategies?

    Again, i didn't do too badly, 23rd out of a hundred overall, but my two buddies were both in front of me. At the end of October, we are doing another race that's gonna have the same kind of hills. I'm hoping to sneak in front of at least one of them. Thanks


    The Pocatello Kid.

      Run hill repeats often and learn to use them to your advantage

        What types of hills are you looking at - both for training and races? How much vertical height and how steep (%)? (that's not in your log)

         

        Rereading your post, it looks like you might be on rolling hills, so maybe just a few minutes up then down - or closer to 15min up then down? Either way, you can use part of a mountain or whatever and do hill repeats. I find going uphill as long as the race hill is helpful.

         

        I try to find topography in training that's similar to race topography. Learn the features of your hills. Some hills can be run 20 different ways - up, up and over, repeats on either side, steps, whatever. Most of my hills are from a minute or two on rollers to 25min to 2hr, sometimes 3 hr (if training for long climbs). I may also do 10 sec hill sprints and Lydiard-style hill drills. They all have their place. You don't have to use the entire mountain unless that's what you need.

         

        Form: stay vertical (line through center of the earth) on uphills, perpendicular to slope on downhills (feel like you're leaning forward).

        Matt Carpenter's Ups and Downs of Trail Running
        Downhill training is important, but you do need to be careful and build up to it. I don't follow this downhill training regime, but have a lot of long downhills (20-25% slopes, 3000ft vertical) that I take at easier efforts (careful to avoid tripping head over heel down the mountain), and occasionally do some hard downhills like they describe. Downhill training seems to provide adaptations for a few weeks (suggestion of 6 wks in the article) so you don't need to do it all the time. But if you're downhill running on technical trails, then there are skills to be learned also. (I'm very poor at these.)

         

        Depending upon your strengths and level of training, you might want to keep even effort uphill (or at least not surge), run OVER the top, then take advantage of the gravity assist on the downhills. If you're a strong runner, you might be able to surge on the uphill and drop a competitor on the downhill. But more people take the uphill hard - just like they learned with repeats - then get dropped on the downhill by the runner they just passed. Uphills are expensive energywise, esp. if you take them hard. It boils down to energy management.

         

        Have fun!

        "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

          It depends on the course.  If there are many rolling hills than as Scully says hill repeats will definitely help.  (run both up and down).  If it is miles of incline/decline you are better off training to sustain pace by doing 1+ mile repeats.  Simulate your course.

           

          I have no idea how long your race is and that can be a big factor.  The longer the race or more elevation, the more miles of hill training you'll need to incorporate.

            It depends on the course.  If there are many rolling hills than as Scully says hill repeats will definitely help.  (run both up and down).  If it is miles of incline/decline you are better off training to sustain pace by doing 1+ mile repeats.  Simulate your course.

             

            I have no idea how long your race is and that can be a big factor.  The longer the race or more elevation, the more miles of hill training you'll need to incorporate.

            +1 to the above. Depends on the course.

             

            Runner's High Hill Motivation

             

            Go get 'em!

            Runner's High® - Endurance Nutrition

            www.runnershighnutrition.com

            haroldIII


              Thanks for all the tips. The race is 10k, with 400 meters of vertical gain(if I'm reading the Chinese correctly, always a little iffy). The last one was the same distance, but with 507 meters gain. I dealt with the first 8k fine, but the last 2k were up a comparatively gentle incline and that's what killed me. The last 300 meters were all up stairs to a temple. I couldn't run either of them, and had to walk. I know I overdid it a little in the beginning, but I also know that too much of my running is flat. I'll take the advice given so far, and try to incorporate it into my training.

              As far as my ability, I'm still pretty much a beginner. At 37, this was my first race since junior high track. I pushed a little too hard last fall, and got plantar fascia, which screwed me over well and good. I'm about two months past that, and looking to ramp up again, but a little more sensibly.

              I really appreciate what you've said so far, and I'd welcome any further advice.


              Will run for scenery.

                Just a note about downhill running.  Even if your legs are strong, there is still some specific adaptation you need for running down hills.  Normally, you use your muscles to put out energy (speed up, climb a hill, lift a weight).  Running downhill, you use your muscles to absorb energy (otherwise you would keep speeding up !)  These so-called eccentric contractions (especially of your quads) can result in trashed legs during a race and unpleasant DOMS a day or two later.  But the good news is that (like so many other things) the body adapts to this pretty readily.  For me, one really long, hard, fast descent (7500') and the few days of DOMS it produced was enough to get my legs ready for a summer of mountain races.

                 

                The other advice I have is that if the race you plan to do has climbs that are too steep and/or long for you to run continuously, then you will benefit tremendously by learning/training to walk uphill really fast.  Most runners are lousy walkers; with a little effort, you can gain a real advantage here.

                Stupid feet!

                Stupid elbow!

                  Just a note about downhill running.  Even if your legs are strong, there is still some specific adaptation you need for running down hills.  Normally, you use your muscles to put out energy (speed up, climb a hill, lift a weight).  Running downhill, you use your muscles to absorb energy (otherwise you would keep speeding up !)  These so-called eccentric contractions (especially of your quads) can result in trashed legs during a race and unpleasant DOMS a day or two later.  But the good news is that (like so many other things) the body adapts to this pretty readily.  For me, one really long, hard, fast descent (7500') and the few days of DOMS it produced was enough to get my legs ready for a summer of mountain races.

                   

                  The other advice I have is that if the race you plan to do has climbs that are too steep and/or long for you to run continuously, then you will benefit tremendously by learning/training to walk uphill really fast.  Most runners are lousy walkers; with a little effort, you can gain a real advantage here.

                   

                  Interesting stuff on DOMS, thanks.

                   

                  I've spent the summer running the very-very hilly dirt trails around my home and never really had any DOMS, even when I initially switch from my previous flat trails to the new hilly ones.  This last weekend I was conscripted as a last-minute replacement for an "ultra" team doing the New Hampshire Reach The Beach relay.  I noticed two big differences between the hills I routinely encounter on my local trails compared to the hills I encountered during the RTB relay:

                  • My local trails are typically soft dirt compared to the (almost exclusive) pavement surfaces of the RTB Relay.
                  • My local trails are adorned with lots of fallen sticks, root snakes, protruding rocks, and other obstacles which require a double-clutch and a downshift for the longer descents, the smooth surfaces of the RTB Relay made for some very fast, sometimes almost scary fast, descents.

                  I'm thinking the intensity of the eccentric contractions were greatly magnified due to both the harder surface and the speed at which I was running, and that extra intensity made for some painful quads the next day.

                   

                  Long story short, after 33 miles of the RTB, I had some rather significant DOMS on Sunday.  As I had already signed up for a race that day I decided to give it a go in spite of my soreness.  I lined up maybe 20 meters shy of the start line, and per my official time, it took me some 35 seconds to cross even though I was doing everything I could do to "run" (the "walkers" were passing me in droves).

                   

                  Looks like I'm going to have to do some more hill work on the roads next year if I decide to do the RTB again.  Smile