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Finding proper hills for repeats a la Pfitzinger? (Read 649 times)

FlippyNoodle


Not a dude

    I will be doing a Pfitz training program for my April 28th half. This program includes hill repeats, which I have never really done. However, I live in Oklahoma where it is pretty darned flat and all I have nearby are some rolling hills, which I don't think fit in with what the plan calls for. There is this one hill on that route that seems like it could possibly be okay, but it's kind of short and the plan calls for 2:30 and 3:30 repeats. I typically run at 5:00 in the morning during the week, so going outside of my 'hood to find a decent hill will be a giant pain in the ass, but I would do it if I had to. So, I have two questions:

     

    1. How does one go about identifying hills as being suitable for this type of training (e.g. 1% grade over X miles) other than kind of randomly exploring stuff and hoping I can find one? 

     

    2. Should I just suck it up and use the treadmill for these workouts most of the time so I have greater control over the grade and the time I spend running at X incline in accordance with the plan?

     

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    onemile


      I subbed these for intervals at 3k to 5k pace.  Worked well for me.

      MJ5


      Chief Unicorn Officer

        I'm not familiar with the Pfitz plan so I'm not sure exactly what it calls for, but some folks have suggested a parking garage for those who are surrounded by flats. Or a bridge, but you may not have any nearby that have a high enough arc to them.

        Mile 5:49 - 5K 19:58 - 10K 43:06 - HM 1:36:54

        FlippyNoodle


        Not a dude

          onemile - I remember you mentioning that when we discussed this plan. Isn't there some muscular benefit to actually doing hills? I'd like to strengthen my legs too, but if I can't find a suitable hill, I'll probably use your method!

           

          MJ5 - You are correct. I don't have either of those nearby. I wonder if I could get access to the stadium. The ramps leading to the upper levels of seats would be killer. Hmm....

            Stadium steps can be equally effective.  However you have a treadmill which is probably the most convenient.  IMO Despite the cliche, Hills are not speed work and vice versa.

            onemile


              onemile - I remember you mentioning that when we discussed this plan. Isn't there some muscular benefit to actually doing hills? I'd like to strengthen my legs too, but if I can't find a suitable hill, I'll probably use your method! 

               

              Probably.  And if you are planning on doing a hilly race, I would definitely not skip the hills.

                ....

                1. How does one go about identifying hills as being suitable for this type of training (e.g. 1% grade over X miles) other than kind of randomly exploring stuff and hoping I can find one? 

                 

                2. Should I just suck it up and use the treadmill for these workouts most of the time so I have greater control over the grade and the time I spend running at X incline in accordance with the plan?

                 

                Thanks in advance for your help!

                 

                In your situation (flat terrain, tight daily scheduling to fit them in), it might be helpful to use the tm - esp. if you're doing these to improve strength for a relatively flat road race. These are one of those things that while you're going slower in training (if hill is steep), it helps you go faster in a race IF you also can improve leg speed. I use gentle (or sometimes steeper) downhills for leg speed.

                 

                Stadium steps can help for strength, power for the same reasons, but keep in mind that they are flat footing vs ramp-like footing of a true hill. This changes the foot-strike and some range of motion issues with your feet / achilles - which may or may not be an issue.

                 

                We've got a trail that used to be ramp-like that they are putting steps in (erosion and safety issues; almost done, but not quite), and it's really changed the type of workout I can get on that part of the trail since each step up is steeper than I normally take and no backward slipping on the ramp.

                 

                In general, I try to match training terrain with race terrain (hilly trails) and after using topo maps and some trial and error, I know what hills around me are useful for what - from short steep; rollers; to medium and bigger hills (8-25% slopes). Last year I explored some new (to me) mountain trails, and while they were fun for a change, they weren't particularly useful for training.

                 

                Bottom line for most workouts, esp. hills, is to know what the purpose of the workout is and be sure you achieve it. 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

                  Don't know what part of the state you are in, but the road up Mt Scott in the Wichita's is a pretty nice place to run.  3 miles to the top with about 800 ft of elevation gain.  You probably wouldn't  want or be able to do it for every workout, but it might be a nice break from the treadmill or parking garage once in a while.  They open it to traffic every morning at 8 or 9 I believe, so if you wanted to avoid that you would have to get there early.  Did several long runs there over the summer and always had a good time.

                    I had this exact problem with that exact plan a few years back.  The advice I got from some very experienced and knowledgeable runners was to find the biggest hill I could find and end my repeats on that (so you'll starting out flat or flat-ish, and ending at the top of the hill).  

                     

                    Thankfully, over the past few years I have lived in outrageously hilly places, so it's no longer a problem!

                    "Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn.  Climb that goddamn mountain."

                    Jack Kerouac

                    FlippyNoodle


                    Not a dude

                      AKTrail - I can always rely on you for lots of good info! Thank you! My next half won't be very hilly, but I'd still like to improve my leg strength as I think it will help my speed in the long run and they won't fatigue as quickly. I've heard that hills are the best way to do that without specific strength training. I'm jealous of your array of trail options. We have like zero trails around here. I'd love the opportunity to run through the woods every now and then!

                       

                      Annapurna42 - Sadly, I am nowhere near the Wichitas. I live in OKC and work in Norman. I'm assuming you are in OK as well?

                       

                      Jehu - Good to know that's an option! That might make that hill I mentioned in my initial post work a little better. It's not long enough to do an entire 2:30 or 3:30 repeat, but I can start flat and sprint up that bad boy enough times to make up for it. How was your experience with this program in general? Which version did you do - the 30-50?

                        Jehu - Good to know that's an option! That might make that hill I mentioned in my initial post work a little better. It's not long enough to do an entire 2:30 or 3:30 repeat, but I can start flat and sprint up that bad boy enough times to make up for it. How was your experience with this program in general? Which version did you do - the 30-50?

                         

                        Yep, the 30-50.  I really liked the program, and generally really dig the programs in that book.  They fit my personality well in that they are not strictly defined programs; I like just having goals for the workouts and some general guidelines for weekly mileage, and then organizing my week and filling in the blanks as I see fit.  I also convert everything to time rather than miles.  

                         

                        I wouldn't change the number of repeats in those hill workouts; just try to make sure you're keeping an even effort throughout the repeat.  That means that you'll be running faster on the flat and slowing a bit (but keeping the effort up) when you hit the incline.  You just need a bit of initial experimentation to see how much of a runway you need to reach the top of the hill at 3:30 (or whatever).  

                        "Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn.  Climb that goddamn mountain."

                        Jack Kerouac

                        FlippyNoodle


                        Not a dude

                          Thanks for the info! I actually want something in between his two half marathon plans, so I'm going to modify it to peak at 40 mpw. I think I'll like the flexibility it allows for arranging my week the way I want it as long as I get the key workouts in as planned. With my first half, I didn't follow any kind of a plan and instead just ran easy miles with a focus on building endurance to cover the distance, which I did pretty easily. I want more speed this time around, so I thought I'd give Pfitz a go. So far, I have heard nothing but good things about his programs.

                            Yeah, I don't think you can go too far wrong with Pfitz.  To be honest, I don't even really follow the mileage guidelines; for a half I generally just try to get a long run of ~2hrs and a med-long (where I usually do the speedwork) of around 90 minutes, and then end with a two week taper.  I also usually ignore the "basic speed" sessions (e.g., 10 x 100m), instead adding 6-8 strides to at least a couple of the easy runs.  So... I guess all I really use the plan for is to outline the speedwork.  

                            "Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn.  Climb that goddamn mountain."

                            Jack Kerouac

                            FlippyNoodle


                            Not a dude

                              Hah, I'm thinking I might actually try to stick pretty close to the plan with the exception of adding some miles to the lower mileage plan. It will be novel for me as I didn't even stick with couch to 5k. I figure Pfitz probably knows what he's doing much more than I do. Just a hunch seeing as how I've been running for just over 7 months now. Smile

                                AKTrail - I can always rely on you for lots of good info! Thank you! My next half won't be very hilly, but I'd still like to improve my leg strength as I think it will help my speed in the long run and they won't fatigue as quickly. I've heard that hills are the best way to do that without specific strength training. I'm jealous of your array of trail options. We have like zero trails around here. I'd love the opportunity to run through the woods every now and then!...

                                 I forgot to mention the "bushwack hill" option - trail got slightly misplaced today. Smile  (I don't think those are in Pfitz or Daniels.)

                                 

                                Yes, hills are probably the best way to build leg strength for running. If you get into slippery snow or whatever, then specific strength training can help for supplementary work for those days. I tend to end up experimenting, then deciding that maybe I should have stayed inside and done step ups or one-legged stuff or something if my true goal had been "training" rather than getting outside and playing in the snow.

                                 

                                The hills I like best for power are Lydiard hill drills, starring Nobby at the beginning. Smile  They're a great way to get more bang for your buck out of small hills. You might also look in Livingstone's "Healthy Intelligent Training." Lydiard tends to be more creative with hills.

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