Running Form Practice on Trails

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OK, I just have to report on my new favorite workout… my Monday morning hill intervals. This workout has a wonderful blend of cardio/aerobic training mixed with technique training, and the best thing about it is that it’s really fun.

In preparing myself for the National 10K championships I’m starting where I’m at right now.  What I mean by that is… I’m in no kind of shape to race right now, but I’m willing to up the ante and begin adding a little chutzpah to my workouts. So, I’ve begun running hill intervals once a week and I’ve picked Mondays to do them because it gets my week off to a brisk start. These workouts allow me to practice my ChiRunning form and also keep me in great shape for my marathon training.

I’m assuming that the race course will be very hilly and I’ve even had the race director tell me that there’s a hill somewhere in the course that’s a third of a mile of very steep sustained climbing. I’m thinking, “Now that’s no problem if you’re ready for it. Heck, here’s a hill at mile 52 in the Leadville Trail 100 that’s 5 ½ miles long and climbs 2500′ in elevation. If I can do that, this should be relatively easy.” So what I’m doing with this particular workout is training by body to hold a steady running pace for a sustained climb.

Here’s what I’m doing. I warm up for about 10 minutes easy and then start the countdown timer on my watch which will beep at one-minute intervals through the whole workout. Then, when my beeper sounds off, I start running at race pace (*PRE-7) for exactly one minute until the beeper goes off again, at which point I run at a resting pace (*PRE-3) for the next minute. I then alternate this cycle of race pace and resting pace for the remainder of my run. The beauty of doing this workout on trails is that no matter where I’m at in the trail, (running uphill or downhill) I have to break into a race pace whenever my beeper tells me to. This means that sometimes I’m “racing” downhill and sometimes I’m racing uphill…and sometimes I’m having to do both because I might get caught in a transition between the two. All of it is great for my running form and my conditioning level because it is the best way for me to practice all of the various situations that will happen on race day…without feeling like I have to practice holding a race pace for an hour…today. All I have to do is practice racing in little one-minute increments, which is entirely doable… and even fun!

There’s much more to this running workout, so I’m going to save it for the next blog.

Happy Trails,

(*PRE – Perceived Rate of Exertion: Exertion level based on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being easiest and 10 being instant exhaustion. See ChiRunning book pages 14-16)


Posted in Technique

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