December 15, 2017

Dread the Hills

Sara Davis

You’re in T2, you put your running shoes on and you are off. It’s hot, your legs are already tired a massive hill looms ahead. Just looking at the hill makes you tired.

That was you then, but now you look up to a hill and feel fresh and excited. You now know that you are going to be able to gain time on your opponents. Now you love hills! It’s your time to shine.

How do you become that person who’s excited for the hills instead of dreading the grade? Someone asked me a couple weeks ago how I became so comfortable with hills during a race. I thought to myself, “Well, 500 hills ago it wasn’t that easy for me either.” The training is what makes you comfortable with the intensity of a race. If you really hate hills, I highly suggest doing hills on your own, practice makes perfect right?
I suggest that at least once a week you should make yourself do a good hill workout. I don’t mean just doing a jog with a hill or two involved, I am saying do hill repeats!

Start off with a warm-up on flat ground, do whatever it takes to make your legs feel warm and ready, at least a good 10-minute warm up. Then go find a long hill. You can change your hill from time to time, either a steep shorter hill or a longer, less steep hill. Start at the bottom and run hard, at least race pace, up the hill. Once you get to the top either walk down, or do a light, easy jog. Do this six to ten  times depending on the length of the hill. Rest only the time it takes you to walk back to the bottom of the hill. It will be hard the first couple of times you do it, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

An alternative to hill repeats is mixed hill running. Go find a very hilly terrain, like a trail run or just a hilly part of town, and go for a run there. Every time you come to a hill try to run hard up to the top. Your only rest will be your jog to the next hill. This will get you prepared for the variable grades and conditions you could experience on race day

When you are running up a hill, think quick short steps. Run on your toes/balls of feet and look about five feet ahead of you. Try not to look at the top of the hill because it makes it look a lot scarier than it really is. It also helps a little to lean forward and let gravity do some of the work. Don’t lean at the waist, it’s more of a hip/pelvis tilt. You should feel like you are falling forward and the only thing keeping you from face planting is your foot coming forward to take your next stride.

Hill repeats are a necessary training session for a triathlete. Make your life easier during races and prepare yourself for the hardest conditions. Be the triathlete that soars through the race with ease and the one which fears no hill!

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