How to train for a very hilly trail race? (Read 173 times)

    Perhaps this is good advice.  I'm probably going to work some of this in, as soon as I can figure out a way to determine the grade of a hill I'm looking at.

    If it's a long hill with the road or trail shown on a decent topo, you can count contours - or if there's benchmarks top and bottom, use them. Not sure how accurate you need to be in determining the slope of your hill or if you're just wanting to see if it's close to 6-7%.


    I've used clinometers enough in my work that I've got an idea on approximate slopes. But for any workouts, I just go by what my goal is for the workout - shallower grades may allow more normal strides but be good for downhills (<5%); steeper grades (20-30%) are better for strength (like hill repeats); medium grades (5-8%) are better for strength endurance (ones I can run up for 30+min). (Our mountain trails are 20-30%, rolling hills are mostly 10-30%; and some flat stuff by the river; so our topography controls a lot of what I do.)

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

      That is a lot - I assume you will be finishing close to the elevation you start at.  That means that if you go up hill 1/2 the time and downhill 1/2 the time you are going up 5-6,000 feet in 15 miles = 12.5% average incline.


      I was always a flat land pavement pusher.  Put that together with I am 200+ pounds, I am always slower on uphills.  But I will say that I am usually faster overall for 50 miles.  In a 50 mile race, I could run every hill by itself, but in total, I cannot run every hill unless I jog in between.


      So my strategy is based on how I am feeling and trying to give a consistent effort level.  There are walking hills and running hills (Up hill), I could walk a lessor hill, run 1/2 the hill or all of it depending on how I am feeling.  My goal is to be able to move as quickly and efficiently as possible on the flats, slight uphills and slight downhills.  Moderate downhills I stry and run pretty aggressively, but steep downhills I just let my weight fall and take it conservative.


      Since I do not run enough hills, I find be too aggressive on a down hill will have huge negative results.


      Now all of this is based on 50 mile races, so you might be able to let the downhills fly in a 16 mile race (trashing your quads) without a negative impact to you flat running sections.


      The only way to train is to do it.  You really need to train uphill and downhill running to be optimal.  I do believe you can fit in some hills 2-3 times a week as part of normal runs.  I am on the TM right now (So no downhill practice)  So I am do light hills.  As part of an easy run, I am going 6 minutes easy at 1%, then 2 minutes at 5-7% incline running at a moderate effort level, then 2 minutes walking at 4 mph and 15%.  Then I repeat for an hour.  if you choose the right speed / effort level this will not take that much out of you.  I plan on continuing to ramp up the speed, incline as I get better at hill running.  With an end goal of still being able to run (Moderate effort) at 10% incline and walk faster than 4 mph at 15%

      I am fuller bodied than Dopplebock


        But this is also because the trail races hills in my area are not long - It is more death by pecking ... many, many 25-50-100 vertical foot hills.  So 2-3 minute intervals is fine.


        If I were doing a more mountainess race with long climbs - I would likely work on long intervals of climbing.

        I am fuller bodied than Dopplebock


          Whoever said running trails would slow you down on the road. don't take any of his advice.

          5000' is a good climb so you do need to do some hill work.

          The good news is the trail race is mostly up.  When you are running hilly trails you can run uphill as fast as you can because you can only fall on your face.  If you run a trail downhill too fast you can fall for 1/4 mile.   " Are you OK?  "  " I don't know I'm still falling"

          I run cross country races to build up speed on dirt,


          Pace Prophet

            Train on very hilly trails, of course.


            I ran very hilly trails 2-3x/week (of 6-7 days running) until basically the sharpening/taper period for my marathon and I did more than just okay.


            Dunno what trail race you're targeting, but I have the Imogene Pass Run four times (17 miles, 7 miles up 5000 ft, 10 miles down 4000 ft) and the best training for me has been a combination of regular pavement runs (including LRs) plus a lot of hilly trail running and once a week running a trail so technical I have to walk most of it.  Getting better at power-hiking uphill and improving my downhill technique made a huge difference and improved my time from 3:55 to 3:35.

            PRs: 10 1:12:59 (4/2014) 13.1 1:35:55 (10/2013) 26.2 3:23:31 (12/2013)

            bloggy stuff at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org