Four Hill Workouts that will help you Conquer Hills like the Pros

Effective hill running requires dedicated practice. In the previous post,  Conquer Hills like the Pros Part I, efficient hill running technique is examined.   The workouts described in Part II will support the development and mastery of proper hill running technique.

Long Hills – The objective of the long hill workout is to train the anaerobic systems, increase endurance, and improve running economy. The intensity of the long hill repeats should be equivalent to running 800m – 1k repeats on the track.  The following structure is recommended for this workout: warm-up (15 minutes of steady state running), long hill repeats, and cool-down (15 minutes of steady state running).

Duration: 90 – 180 seconds (1.5 – 3 minutes) 

Grade: 5% – 7%

Repetitions: 3 – 7

Recovery: Active recovery by jogging the descent to the base of the hill.

 

Short Hills – The objective of the short hill workout is to train the anaerobic systems, increase muscular power, and improve running economy. The intensity of the short hill repeats should be an equivalent effort to running 400m repeats on the track. The following structure is recommended for this workout: warm-up (15 minutes of steady state running),  short hill repeats, and cool-down (15 minutes of steady state running).

Duration: 30 – 90 seconds (0.5 – 1.5) minutes

Grade: 5 – 10%

Repetitions: 5 -10

Recovery: Active recovery by jogging the descent to the base of the hill.

 

Hill Sprints – The objective of hill sprint is to increase muscular power, running economy, and to build confidence to accelerate while running up hill. Hill sprints should be preformed at one’s absolute maximum effort on the steepest incline accessible. It is important to  be thoroughly warmed up and healthy, no injuries, prior to completing this workout. The following structure is recommended for this workout: warm-up (15 minutes of steady state running), Up hill sprints, and cool-down (15 minutes of steady state running).

Duration: < 30 seconds

Grade: Steep

Repetitions: 10 -12

Recovery: Active recovery by jogging the descent to the base of the hill.

Down Hill Sprints- The objective of downhill sprints is to unnecessarily expose yourself to increased risk of injury… (just kidding) Down hill sprints are a fantastic tool to develop foot speed, increase range of motion, improve down hill running economy, and gain confidence on descents. The down hill sprint is meant to be a controlled sprint meaning that one should be able to maintain good running form while completing this workout. It is important to thoroughly warmed up and healthy, no injuries, prior to completing this workout. The following structure is recommended for this workout:  warm-up (15 minutes of steady state running), Down hill sprints, and cool-down (15 minutes of steady state running). 

Duration:  <30 Seconds

Grade: As steep as is comfortable.

Repetitions: 5 -7

Recovery: Active recovery by jogging ascent to the to of the hill.

Conquer Hills like the Pros!

Part 1 of Run Cascadia’s Conquer the Hills series

 

Running hills effectively is as much a test of one’s fitness as technical ability. The focus on part one is mastering hill running technique. Proper technique makes for efficient running which in turn reduces the perceived difficulty of running through hilly terrain. With less discomfort one may even find that they enjoy the challenge that hills provide.

The ascent, it’s more than a grind!

The objective of “good” uphill running technique is to maximize the ratio of horizontal distance traveled to vertical distance traveled in each stride. In my experience the best way to accomplish this is to imagine that you are being pulled up the hill from the pelvis and the direction of force is parallel to the grade. Upper body positioning is important as well arms should be relaxed swinging freely, body upright leaning neither forward or back, and eyes ahead scanning for potential obstacles. To maintain good upper body positioning I like to pretend that there is a string attached to the top of my head holding me straight up and down.


 

Descend correctly and it will feel like flying!

Nailing the descent is just as important if not more important than running the climb with good form. An efficient descent is fast end energizing. A runner should be able to make up some of the time that was lost during the ascent while recovering for the next effort. Running a descent efficiently requires the runner to maximize the ratio of horizontal distance traveled to vertical distance traveled in each stride. It has been my experience that the best way to do this is to pretend that there is a rope attached to your pelvis pulling you along, parallel to grade. For correct upper body positioning a slight forward lean at the hips and an upright torso is all that is required. The forward lean helps prevent unintentional breaking and the fatigue generating eccentric muscle contractions. The lean accomplishes this by moving the foot strike from in front of the center of gravity to under the center of gravity or slightly behind. You will know you are doing it right because it will  feel fast, easy, and maybe slightly out of control.

Now lace up you shoes and crush some hills!

 N

Juneau’s 5 best fall time trails

Juneau’s transition seasons spring and fall are filled with drama and excitement, during this period approximately 6 minutes of daylight is added (spring) or lost (fall) per day with the power to change the ordinary into the extraordinary.

 

Best Fall colors: Granite Creek Trail

Trail Running Granite Creek Basin.

Granite Creek trail is a stunning backdrop and a worth while run in any

 season. In early fall the trail transforms as the foliage turns on the ground blueberries to create an color experience unparalleled by Juneau’s standards. As one ascends into the high meadows the run takes on a psychedelic mood the patchwork color and larger than life boulders work to create an otherworldly landscape.

Best Run with the Mountain Goats: Thunder Mountain/Heintzleman Ridge.

Have you ever desired to frolic with mountain goats? Next Frosty morning take advantage of the crunchy ground and cruse up Thunder Mountain or Heintzleman Ridge Trail to glorious heather meadows where you can attempt to frolic with the mountain goats until you realized just how big they really are.

 

Most Fun: Herbert Glacier Trail

In the mood to drive fast then run fast and get somewhere? The Herbert Glacier Trail is a fall favorite blazing fast double track weaving through an understory of blueberries and high bush cranberries will keep you focused on the trail, then bam! suddenly your on a riverside beach with the intimidatingly jagged Herbert Glacier daring you to make a final approach. Go ahead indulge the temptation just be sure to give yourself enough time for the bushwhack back, the sun sets quickly these days.

Most Epic: Juneau Ridge+

Cap off the summer ridge running season with speedy run on the Juneau Ridge. You’ve worked hard to get end of summer shape now put it to good use! At 13 miles with ~5k  rugged vertical feet its a challenging route. It can get a alot more challenging if you loop around to the Mt. Roberts Tram via Olds Mountain. You’ll be ready for a cold beer and a tram ride down if you decide on the latter.

Most Ethereal: Sheep Creek/Sheep Mountain

There’s MAGIC… ‘erherm cough cough Gold in them thar hills.  Sheep Creek and Sheep Creek Basin are special places whether or not it magic is not important, you’ll see what I mean once you get there., a short but intense climb leads to a gorgeous grove of black cotton wood with butter smooth single track and stunning views.

 

Five Juneau Summer Trail Running Tips

Make the most of Juneau’s 130+ miles of maintained trails by following these five summer trail running tips!

Slowing down to look at the plants while running through the Muskeg can be a rewarding experience. Juneau, Alaska.
  1. Check the forecast before you hit the trail — The mountains that help define Juneau’s spectacular sky line create short lines of sight so don’t trust the blue sky that is directly overhead, be wise and pack/dress for the forecast because lurking behind that next mountain ridge is the downpour you didn’t see coming.
  2. Be Bear Aware —  Bears,  black and brown roam the trails and urban areas looking for food. The best way to avoid an unwanted bear encounter is to avoid running adjacent to food sources, especially anadromous streams (salmon streams) during spawning season. It is also recommended to carry bear spray, run with a friend, and to inform someone of your intended route.
  3. Bring a camera/smart phone — Whether you find your inspiration in the landscape, flora, or fauna there will certainly be moments along the trail that you will want to photograph.
  4. Don’t Rush if you can help it — Unless your striving for a F.K.T., doing repeats of the Mt.Roberts Trail, or just in the groove be sure to go at a pace that allows you to enjoy the experience. Juneau’s summer days are long (18+ hours) so you’re unlikely to run out of daylight, but the season is short so make the most of it, there will be plenty of opportunity to racing the clock/sun as fall approaches the days get short.
  5. Run a Ridge — Sure the 3 to 4 thousand foot climb up to Juneau’s alpine ridges are a grind and the descents can be tough too, but once up top the boundless views and relatively easy running more than make up for it.