Build a Strong Base - Page 3
Phase 2: King of the Hills
The second phase entails building strength with a four- to six-week cycle that includes hill running. Hill training improves lactate tolerance and leg strength, increases your stride length and frequency on the flats, drives your VO2max sky high, further improves your running economy and—perhaps most important for trail runners—gives you confidence when you are facing a daunting uphill slog.
“Hill training is a very important component of trail running and becomes exponentially more important the hillier your target race course is,” says Morrison. “When I’m in peak training mode, I’ll run two ascents up a four-mile climb at threshold heart rate. However, I find as much benefit to running the four-mile descent hard too; these long descents really build your quad strength.”
“Hill repeats allow me to get in quality fitness work without the pounding on the flats or downhills,” says Lint. “I do everything from short, one- to five-minute hill repeats on a gradual grade to four-mile repeats with lots of elevation gain. These workouts also help me stay injury free.”
Eleven-year ultra- and road-racing veteran, Howard Nippert of Blacksburg, Virginia, plans his hill training to suit upcoming races. Says Nippert, “I try to plan runs similar to the terrain and profile I’ll race on, or even exaggerate them, that is, climb and descend more than necessary.”