Hill training – about & ideas

We had a few people wondering what the hill training advertised might be like so was going to reply but then thought maybe it deserved a post of it’s own.   A lot of the people involved with flying fox are members of the local running club YTRRC.  We do a hill session that floats between Wednesdays and Thursdays.  It’s an all ability session and you don’t need to be in the club to join in.

So a little guide to the hill training we do!  (you may have seen a similar facebook post – there’s a few extra bits but essentially it’s the same).

Firstly what ever your ability don’t be scared. If you can run 5 miles and don’t mind the odd bit of sprinting in your running then what ever speed that’s at is good enough. It really is a mixed ability type of a session and that’s how we like it. Some of my friends of speedy, some aren’t and I like to run with them all. It’s not just for serious runners (whatever they are) just for people who want to improve or who like a bit of social run.  There really is plenty of time to chat on these days.

The aims are to help with both your flat running speed and going up hills and also having a fun and social session. In my club weekly calendar we have Tuesday and Friday night speed sessions (Friday’s at the local track, only £1 for non members, really recommend it but I’m not in charge of this session).  They’re of varying types.  Tuesdays maybe a bit more of a speed endurance session and Friday may more concentrate on improving your top speed.  So we do a hill session that won’t hurt anyone doing one or both the others. Although 3 hard sessions a week is possibly a bit much. I tend to do all three but maybe not 100% on all of them.

A typical hill session would be a pyramid. After a warm up we’d start with 3 15 second efforts. Then 3 30 second efforts followed by 3 60 second efforts. There’s walking recovery inbetween so for every second run you probably get 4 to recover. We’d normally do a short little jog to clear the legs before repeating the 30 and 15 second intervals. We aim for people to feel relatively fresh so they can try hard on each interval, it’s not meant to be a session to grind you down. This session is 7min 30 of effort running, so not too scary for anyone! And even if you struggle to keep running for 60s up a hill, try and keep walking. The ideas to try. Everything’s at your own pace, you just do what you can for the time of that interval.

We vary the hills as different gradients work your legs slightly differently and you don’t want to get locked into one gradient.  It’s also good to mix trail with tarmac as off road running can be great for stability and ankle strength.  I also try and vary the session so it’s not always exactly the same.  Sometimes steeper hills.  Sometimes flatter.  We do a session on a really evil hill that goes 3 * 15s, 60s, 90s, 60s, 3 * 10s, (recovery jog) 60s, 90s, 60s, 3 * 15s.  If you’re by yourself putting 6 – 30 second hill efforts into a moderate paced run can work wonders if you do regularly (once a week).    Steps can be great for the shorter intervals.

The science bit (this is probably why I get called a dork at times). The shorter very sprinty stuff is effectively a strength workout for runners. If you’ve ever used a leg press in the gym you can imagine picking your legs up to get up a steep hill as being a similar action with your body as the weight. This can strengthen muscles which may barely get used on the flat but can definitely Sprinting also helps your running efficiency – it’s much harder to have bad form when running quickly. It’s great for VO2 max to on the longer intervals, when you’re breathing deeply thats great for lung capacity and your bodies ability to get oxygen around the body and then process it in your legs.

I hope that explains a bit about some of the sessions people are welcome to join us on and if you’re nowhere near Yeovil on Weds or Thurs something to consider trying yourself especially with friends.  Please feel free to ask any questions, I’ll do my best to help!

Sometimes it’s good to end in a pub.

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