When training for adventure racing, have you ever thought about adding regular hill sprints into your plan? It is well worth doing as studies show that incorporating hill reps into your training regime has a positive effect on running economy and will improve your 5km time by around 2 percent on average. Moreover, hill sprints will improve your leg strength and power as well as your breathing, posture and cadence. Here’s how to incorporate hill training into your schedule.
Not Too Steep, Not Too Long
When looking for the right hill to train on, it is tempting to find the steepest hill possible. But a study published in the Journal Of Applied Physiology found that for inclines over 9% it was actually more efficient to walk. Try to keep the hill fairly short aiming for an effort of 10-30 seconds because more intense running recruits fast twitch muscles as you reach maximum intensity and overloads your muscles. Aim to find an off-road hill, not only to mimic race conditions but also to improve your balance and activate and strengthen stabilizing muscles by running on rough and uneven ground.
Perfecting your form while doing hill sprints will give you maximum efficiency and strength gains. Keep your legs moving as fast as possible and spring back off the ground as soon as possible after your feet make contact. Try not to lean too far forward as this will restrict your range of motion leading to a shorter stride and lower power output. Arms are vitally important when hill running. The faster your arms move, the faster your legs will move so generating more leg power. When descending, resist the temptation to lean back and try not to overstride and brake. Instead focus on cadence, turnover and increasing your strike rate. This will teach your neuromuscular system to work faster and improve your base speed.
Food For Hills
It goes without saying that nutrition is important when training up and down hills. Hill sprints are physically demanding so eat some carb-heavy food around 30-60 minutes before your hill session. Then, within 20 minutes of finishing your hill work, have a protein-rich snack to repair muscle tissue alongside some carbs to replace lost energy and ensure you are ready to for the next session.
Hill running is an important part of your adventure race training and incorporating hill sprints into your schedule will make you faster. It is simply a case of finding the right off road hills, perfecting your running form and practising running downhill.
Contribution by: Sally Writes