the hills, the hills...

Drew/Marmite etc... Doing Connemara Marathon in March. It's hilly. Any tips on hills? By the way, thanks for your erudite responses to my Marathon schedule question. V handy.

My basic training package of five sessions will be: one hill session, one speed, one tempo with hills, long run with hills, then the fifth will be easy peasys/cross training <if I have time>.

I'm thinking of including some plyometric work to build some strength in my pins, and basic squats/lunges with barbell, too. Aim would be three sessions, reality one if I'm lucky.

The weekly hill session will vary to include, for example, one week long hills, one week short steep ones, one week a mixture of hills. I'm aiming to build up the time/number of reps each week. For example just now did 23 mins, 8 reps, next week (if I do the same hills) I'd aim to do 10 reps around 30 mins. <<Still with me, or asleep...?>>

Core of the question is: what do you think of above? Will strength work imporve my hills-ability? How do I develop my hill sessions? How long would you very fit chaps spend on the core hill session?


  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Snicks, long runs in cold and miserable weather are my least favourite type of training. A close second comes hill reps!

    Comments on your proposed schedule. It does look quite tough with 4 hard sessions but it is achievable and will certainly help your overall fitness and strength. My only piece of advise would be to sometimes take two days recovery if you don't feel recovered enough. It is important that you feel good to get the most out of these sessions.

    Don't feel as though you must cram them into a 7 day week. Some of my weeks last up to 9 days!

    The hill training is more important than the plyometrics, however if you can fit in a session per week, do it, but don't replace one of your key running sessions to do your plyometrics or weight training session.

    I'm currently doing at least one hill rep session per week, sometimes two. I use two types of session:

    1: On the road using two hills on alternating weeks. Hill one is 10% slope of just over 400m. The effort part takes just under 2 minutes. Hill two is about 8% slope and takes about 1:45 for the same distance.

    My goal during these reps is to have about 15 minutes effort & 15 minutes recovery. This results in between 8 & 10 reps. I try to make my HR peak at about 95% MHR, although this isn't always achieved.

    2, Treadmill. Through experimentation I've found that 7% seems to be the ideal slope for me. Tend to do 5 or 6 x 3 minute intervals with 3 minute slow recovery.

    Whether or not this works will not become apparent until Helsby 1/2 because I've only been doing them consistently for about 5 weeks.

    My own view on any interval session, where you're reaching quite a high HR, is to try and do about 15 minutes effort. If you can manage more than this you're probably not trying hard enough! If you can only manage 10 minutes - that's fine. Your goal would be to eventually reach 15 minutes.

    Hope that helps.
  • Snicks,
    I think Drew is right on the money. I see that you're planning on doing hilly long runs so the only thing I would add would be to do a few marathon pace runs over hilly terrain as well. I learnt this lesson the painful way in April '01 when I ran the Boston marathon without doing any hill training. This was a serious mistake as the hills between 16 and 21 miles killed me. Having just had a quick look at the Connemara marathon course topography, it certainly looks like you'll have your work cut out for you in miles 23 and 24, so everything that you do that adds to length strength and stamina will be beneficial.

    So if you can get a couple 20-22 milers (+ some MP runs) done over hilly terrain I think this will pay dividends come race day.

    Best of luck with the training, does this mean we won't get to meet up at FLM in April? :-(
  • Thanks you two. What experts you are. Who needs RW?

    Drew, re: my 'proposed' schedule. It's a case of reach for the sky and hit the treetops. If I can fit in five, I will. Four will be fine. And you're right, don't always have to think in terms of 7 days. The plyometric plan will probably end up being missed out due to time, and yes, thanks for reminding me that running's more useful.

    The comments re: the interval v useful. I did 23 mins today (as I said) HR was hitting 85% to 90% at the top of the hills, but probably could have pushed it a bit more.

    Thanks Marmite, fortunately the club runs are pretty hilly, so I'll do that. As for me and FLM. I'm going to voulnteer to man a water station. Last year our club was at Mile 24 - so you can't escape me!!
  • Hi!

    As far as I'm aware (and I did a fair bit of reading up about it years ago when I was trying to improve my jumping for volleyball) Plyometrics is for the fast twitch muscles. I'm not sure how much these are used in running hills - I guess some explosive power wouldn't go amiss, but I'd have thought slow twitch muscle/stamina stuff was more important.

    Be interested to read anything anyone can post on the role of fast twitch versus slow twitch muscles.

  • Thanks Iain a personal trainer mate gave me some Plyometric exercises, she didn't say specifically for hills, but that was my guess. There's a whole heap of stuff in my fitness magazines on the subject this month, so I'll have a read, and get back to you if I learn anything...
  • How did you get an entry form for the connemara
  • Snicksters,
    last winter my physio/trainer gave me a programme of plyometrics, which he also uses for Swansea rugby club, in the belief that it gives a bit of strength training and flexibility too!
  • Snicks,

    It was hills that got me started on this lark a few years ago - 7 hills to be precise (Old race report:-

    My variations in training in prep for these hills consisted of 90 second uphill efforts at about 8% incline, peaking at 13 reps, plus long runs covering a similar altitude gain to that of the actual race.

    The only year I haven't improved my time (apart from air traffic control computer failure preventing travel) was when I only did 2 longer runs over hills. I have to take the car somewhere to get a decent length hilly run. On the long runs I'd surge up the hills, push a few of the downhills to get used to downhills but not worry too much about the pace of the rest.
    But I was only training for a 2 hour effort.

    Therefore I am concurring with MM. Short hills for strength plus long runs with hills for strength endurance. But you had those anyway...

    I hope Connemara-Ray will have a camera positioned at the top of the Maam valley hills!
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