This week in our session we concentrated on hill work. Trail running is about consistency of pace and the runner’s ability to successfully handle the hills. There are really two types of hills. The long killer hills which take a chunk out of your legs and the short ones which shouldn’t. Often the shorter hills are of what I call the “Rollercoaster” variety. That means the hill will have a short downhill and then an equal uphill. These hills are usually about 15 – 35 metres in length. How you run the shorter hills and use your momentum will be a big factor in your success as a trail runner. Here is my reciepe for success on these types of hills. As you enter the downhill you reduce effort and let your momentum carry you through the downhill portion. Then as you enter the trough you accelerate with a short burst, lasting about 50% of the uphill and then finally easing back as you coast to the crest of the uphill. There is one trail section we use that has about 5 or 6 of these in a row which give you a good sense of this kind of pacing. This method will keep you strong and saving your strength for those killer uphills which do take a bite. In the next post I will get into the best way to survive those monsters.
Here is a recap of the five previously posted trail running tips:
1. I said footworks was the most important part of trail running and it is. The trails in the Don valley can be severely sloped across your line. Meaning your footfall is often not flat but angled. On severe slopes, turn your foot slightly uphill and use a bit of body rotation as well.
2. On shorter hills that you enter from a flat part, try a bit of a burst at the start of the incline. Use that acceleration to conquer the majority of the hill. One great gauge of fitness on trails is how you handle the short hills. If they are taking too much out of you then you still are building a trail base.
3. It is all about the feet – trail running is all about your footwork. There is the obvious caution about watching out for roots, rocks, branches, chipmunks, etc but aside from that there is the proper footwork to maximize your efficiency on the trails. Quick and focused feet are key for the beginning trail runner. Don’t over stride and be ready to change your rhythm to avoid the above obstacles. See my post https://torontotruerunning.com/2015/05/06/footwork-and-footsteps/ for more help.
4. Hills are your friend – Trail running means that you are almost always ascending or descending. The hills you encounter on the trails are unlike the moderately sloped paved trails you might find in parks or on the streets. Your will need to shorten your stride further for the ups and downs. Quick arms that don’t cross the body as much will help you up that hill and wider arms will keep your balance going down.
5. Don’t be discouraged by how hard this may seem. One a week a friend would meet up with me for a Sunday run on the trails. After a somewhat long run, perhaps 12 km, he asked “How much do you think this run is worth on the roads?”. I said a fair bit more. We were training for the New York Marathon at the time. When I run on the trails I know I am getting a better workout than on the roads. To me, anyways, the trails don’t seem hard anymore, it is the pavement which now seems easy. That is the value and worth of trail running.
Hope these help. Cheers