I am nearing the final preparations of my training for the Warrior Dash World Championships (Oct 18th) and OCR World Championships (Oct 25th). Due to both course designs having lots of climbing, needless to say I have been trying to improve my climbing (running uphill) skills. Some make it look so damn easy, think Matt Novakovich or Max King, while others like me seem to struggle with it.
Running at an incline does require some specific running technique. I have slowly been improving on some of these. If you are curious about learning how to improve your uphill running skills, check out this link...tips for running uphill, or this link...efficient uphill running.
During a few of my recent workouts I focused on hill repeats and tempo runs. I added in some extra fun to increase the level of difficulty and to help me become more comfortable feeling uncomfortable. I dragged (well not really he offered to come along) my friend Ben Fong along for both workouts. He is a young guy who has a tremendous amount of strength and is preparing to head off to the Navy.
The hill repeat workout took place near Shevlin Park on a steep gravel road (10-15% gradient). After a good warm up of some jogging and light stretching, we did 8 hill repeats at a tempo pace of about 200m. Each interval was followed immediately by 5 pushups at the top. A light jog down the hill and a 30 sec rest between each interval. To keep things fun, every third hill we ran over to a nearby pond and walked in p to our waists and then continued up the hill for more repeats. The addition of extra weight from the water adds a tremendous amount of strength to the equation. Ben found this out very quickly.
When we finished the hill repeats, we took a 5 minute rest and then started the 2nd part of the workout. This time we did 6 sets of 150m up the hill carrying a 45lb bucket filled with gravel. I also chose to wear my 20lb weight vest. I tried to jog with the bucket both up and down the hill, and was able to do so on most of them. The twist on this workout was that every time we got back to the bottom of the hill we did 10 burpees followed by a 30 sec rest. Good times.
The final part to this workout was doing 6 "scrambles" up a very steep and loose (sandy) hill that was covered with rocks and logs. Running up this hill is the true example of a Mtn Climber. I kept my vest on for this too which added an even more challenge for the stability factor. Each repeat on this hill lasted about 200m. Running down was just as difficult as there was no sure-footed traction.
The entire workout took us just over 1 hour and left us both feeling ready to get some food.
The following week Ben and I did a similar challenging workout but without the hill repeats. This time we started with a series of 400m of burpee broad jumps. These are exactly like they sound, you perform a burpee (squat down, jump both legs back into a plank position, perform a pushup, jump both legs forward, stand up and jump) and then instead of jumping straight up you jump as far forward as you can. This is a great combination of strength and power, not to mentioned incredibly challenging on the cardiovascular system.
These took longer than I was anticipating, 20 minutes for me and 24 minutes for Ben. I'm not sure of the total burpee count, but I would guess we both did over 100 total burpees and jumps.
After catching our breath we jogged for 5 minutes before beginning our tempo run. 12 sets of 2 min hard followed by 1 min easy. We ran these on a trail that was mostly flat and without too many tight switchbacks. The goal was to put in a good solid effort for each 2 min interval.
Most of the workout was in a steady rain with temps in the 60's. It was a perfect fall day for working out. So far Ben seems to be "enjoying" the workouts. One more week of hard training and then I am going to taper the final 2 weeks leading up to the Warrior Dash event on the 18th. I will be doing mostly recovering and resting in between each event since I will get home from Warrior Dash on Monday and then head out to OH on Thursday.