Good morning! As we are in New England, we woke up to a blanket of snow this morning following a couple of weeks of warm spring-like weather. As they say, if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait five minutes, so hopefully that means the snow will melt soon!
The weekend started off with some happy hour drinks after a long week including a nice Friday morning run (I’ve cut back on alcohol and sweets over the last 6 months or so, but am a true believer in moderation and enjoying life as well!).
Photos from Friday morning run:
A fun Friday was followed by a long run on a sunny but cold Saturday. Mark and I started our run together and split ways half way as we ran separate distances. We took the train out to a town west of Boston, Newton, on the Boston Marathon route (roughly mile 16).
We ran from there along the marathon course back into the city, and I did an extra loop to total 18 miles. The part of the course we ran included the Newton Hills and Heartbreak Hill, which was perfect preparation for the marathon. They say that practice makes perfect in developing good hill running form!
My coaches sent me some great hill running tips written by Team Oregon:
One of the few places where most runners can improve technique is on hills. The problem on hills is not really a question of form as much as a psychological approach. As Team Oregon states, most runners view an uphill as a barrier or challenge. They charge the uphill either in an effort to get it over with or as a demonstration of their strength. This having been done, they rest on the following downhill, holding back so as not to get going too fast. This is exactly the opposite of what you want to do in order to run the hills efficiently.
The most important thing to learn about running hills is the notion of even effort. The goal is to expend only slightly more energy running uphill than you would when running on the flat and not to expend much less energy running downhill than running on the flat.
Common hill running mistakes as stated by Team Oregon include:
- Attacking the uphill: A quick ticket to oxygen debt. Hill races are rarely won by the person who is the fastest at the bottom. You must concentrate on relaxing and metering out your energy over the hill. Many hills are steepest at the bottom and flatten out near the top. A well run hill has you picking it up at the top and into the downhill transition.
- Over striding uphill: Remember that the muscles of the legs are major pumps for the blood supply of oxygen and fuel while running. A short quick stride helps supply more fuel and oxygen than a long slow & one uphill. This is the same reason that it is more efficient to use low gears and a fast cadence when riding a bicycle uphill rather than high gears and a slow cadence.
- Looking at your feet: Maintain your posture uphill and downhill by looking into the distance. Hunching over or looking at your feet will tense up your muscles and hinder your breathing and balance, (not to mention exposing yourself to collisions with solid objects).
- Resting or holding back on the downhill: If you do not accelerate on the downhill, you will lose the opportunity to get something for nothing. If you don’t believe this, try running downhill with a pulse rate monitor and notice how much faster you can run at the same pulse rate than on the flat. A sure sign that you are holding back is the sound of “plopping” from your feet as you run downhill. Work on increasing stride length and using your arm swing for balance.
- Not thinking ahead: Look ahead for variations in the slope up or down and adapt to them immediately. If you have to wait until you are tying up from lactic acid uphill or hearing the “plopping feet” downhill to change your form, it’s too late and you have already wasted energy.
Drills for developing your hill running technique include:
- Uphill: Take short steps (baby steps) as if riding a bicycle in low gear. Use your arms in a straight back and forward and up motion to help lift your arms and legs. Concentrate on relaxing your upper body and particularly the back of your upper legs. Look where you are going and not down at your feet.
- Downhill: Don’t hold back. Go for it! Lengthen out your stride to take advantage of the hill. Land on the balls of your feet with your knees bent. Let your arms swing to the sides and across your body to help keep your balance and to rotate your hips to improve stride length. Concentrate on using the muscles in the backs of your legs to push you forward. Remember, you can go a lot faster than you think and still be under control.
- Transitions: Strive to maintain your cadence and make a smooth but immediate transition in your form and stride length as you go from uphill to downhill or as the slope changes. Anticipate the changes in terrain and change your form and stride length accordingly.
I am going to continue to follow these great hill running tips and drills as I prepare for the Newton hills in Boston, and other hilly races.
Following the run on Saturday, Mark and I went out for his birthday dinner #1 (today is the actual big day!)
Our Sunday was spent celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Boston style in South Boston (“Southie”) and then catching up on life, including finishing our marathon of Breaking Bad on TV. Such and addicting, well-written, but disturbing show. Looking forward to moving on to something happier :)
Thanks for the pics, @mkcorcor212 & @sheiladunning!
My coaches and I decided that I should run every other day between now and Boston, cutting out one of the mid-week runs. I have 8 scheduled for today along with a lot of stretching. One more long run next weekend and then it’s taper time!
What was your favorite activity this weekend?
Do you practice hill training regularly?
What is your current favorite TV show? I need to recs!