Tips for racing on hilly courses - partial transcript from Audio for Week of July 15/13
Coach – Do you have any tips for when racing over hilly courses...I find myself just dead when I get to the top of the hills.
Fair enough. I do just happen to have a couple of tips.
But before passing them along I’ll just make the point that before you even get to the race you should have been doing runs in training that include slopes that are similar to what you’re going to encounter in the races....both uphill and downhill
For example for my clients living in Toronto, and who are running in the Boston Marathon, I often suggest they do a long run that includes going to the corner of York Mills Rd. and Yonge St. – the bottom of Hog’s Hollow and then run south up the 600m plus grade and then turnaround and run downhill back to the intersection and then run east up another 600m slope and back down and then run west up another similar slope and continue doing this for 40 or so minutes - the grades are at least 4 to 5 % so they are steeper than Heart Break hill.
Anyway, that’s not what you were asking about....
Ok to answer your question:
Definitely a common miscue with runners is to try and maintain the same rhythm and pace that they’re running on the flat while going uphill and often with disastrous results. It’s just common sense: if you run the same pace going up a hill you are doing much more muscle work which is demanding more oxygen and this in turn can cause you to incur a sudden and dramatic increase in the levels of lactic acid….And once that happens, it can take many minutes before it’s reduced back to the level it was on the flat ... and in the meantime your ability to resume your desired race pace can suffer tremendously.
Now, as your total muscle work increases, so does the oxygen demand increase, and this is accompanied by greater ventilation and increased heart rate.
So, my first tip is this...as you’re running along on the flat pay very close attention to your effort level and – and this is very important – your breathing level…. depth and rhythm of your breathing....Then when you reach an uphill portion continue to pay close attention to your breathing and aim to maintain the same effort level and breathing pattern while going up.....doing so will of course cause you to go slower…. but that’s cool because applying the same strategy to the downhill portion will result in your pace speeding up. So it more or less evens out.
And here’s another tip for those who use hear rate monitors......at the same time as you are practising my first tip, check out what your heart rate while on the flat and then when you get to an uphill portion adjust your pace in order to maintain the same heart rate.
So there you go and remember if you want to get in to Juilliard, practise, practise, practise.