5 years ago

May/June 2012 - Level Renner

May/June 2012 - Level Renner

Lane 1: Performance R

Lane 1: Performance R unning A Closer Look at Uphill Running uphill offers numerous benefits to any athlete. This month, I thought I'd investigate why. Physiologically, uphill running combines the aerobic benefits of running with the muscular stimulus of a lifting session. Moving the body against gravity requires increased muscle recruitment, as anyone who has ever been sore after a hill workout can attest. In addition, uphill running improves neuromuscular coordination, as the body tries to efficiently manage the balance and strength necessary to propel both forward and upward with every stride. Neurologically, running uphill actually requires slightly different synapses to fire, as efficient runners tend to increase their cadence, shorten their strides, drive their knees higher, and even accommodate a slight forward lean into the incline. This new form requires practice for all the muscles to shift intuitively, rapidfire when a hill comes along in a race. Uphill running also reduces the impact forces on the bones and muscles, so it can provide a great workout for injury-prone runners. This makes for quick recovery for those trying to get fit in a hurry, especially because it requires a slower pace to get the same cardiovascular workout. Just watch out for downhill running and avoid steep hills if you have any lower back problems. Psychologically, uphill running takes increased focus and effort. For maximum benefit, pair this with a good coach who can "trick" the athlete into managing his effort by not telling him how long the workout will be. A long hill can accomplish the same effect: Before going on an unfamiliar run, plan on picking up the pace for each incline. If the route winds or you can't see the crest of the hill from the bottom, you have to focus on managing your effort for an unknown amount of time. This mimics race conditions, where competitors may surge without warning and with unknown duration. Financially, running uphill is an economical way to get fit. It takes both less By Lesley Hocking time and money to achieve the same effect of a gym. Although it may lack lateral stimulus, it otherwise stresses the whole body. Runners must use their core muscles to stay upright and balanced as they carry their weight up the hill. This type of workout requires no equipment (as barefoot runners will attest, even shoes are optional), and takes very little planning (unless you live in Florida, where it may be hard to find a hill other than the nearest highway on-ramp). The only real drawback to uphill running is that Newtonian problem of what goes up must come down. In most cases, this means runners jog downhill to recover before the next uphill repeat. Depending on the length of the hill, this can accomplish many kinds of training effects, from absolute power generation to anaerobic tolerance and even VO2Max. Unfortunately, due to long recoveries jogging down the hill, this type of workout will not tend to increase a runner's lactate threshold, and it can take a relatively long time for a short total duration of work. To balance the benefits and drawbacks of uphill running, I suggest finding a long, gradual hill rather than a short, steep one. This way, a runner can potentially run some downhill portions of the workout fast, shortening the recovery without a high risk of injury. For long distance runners, try this workout on a continuous hill that takes at least 5 minutes to climb, where the uphill portions are done at about 80% effort, and the recovery is run at training pace effort: -5 mins uphill (6 mins recovery) -4 mins uphill (5 mins recovery) -3 mins uphill (4 mins recovery) -2 mins uphill (3 mins recovery) -1 min uphill (jog all the way back down) -5 mins uphill So, next time you happen upon a hill on your training run, don’t eschew it—run right up it—several times! Lesley Hocking is a certified coach who works with athletes of all ages through her website, 6

A Workout with… Ruben Sanca By EJN Sanca en route to winning the 2011 New Bedford Half Marathon Photo by Krissy Kozlosky Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on our blog at EJN posts an in-depth article chronicling the workout of a regional elite every Wednesday. Do you do epic and inspiring workouts? Contact and you might find yourself on these pages. Hello Level Legion, and welcome to Intervals. This is the first in what will hopefully be a Wednesday tradition for everyone going forward. Each week we’ll put the spotlight on a different elite renner from the region and delve into a recent workout he just did. It’ll be different from week to week, but we’re hoping to provide you with workout details and insight from the athlete (and maybe even a coach or a teammate) regarding the workout in general and also the results more specifically. We were lucky to have Ruben Sanca be our first guest for the Intervals series. Highlighted here is the Christian Street Hill (Lowell, MA) workout, as performed on Saturday, March 31, 2012. Don’t let the misleading name fool you. Although Christian Hill sounds like a small, grassy slope on which Sunday School is taught, it really is a grinder that separates Lane 1: Performance Intervals the leader from the rest of the pack. From my initial correspondences with Ruben, it was starting to sound like a monster of a workout, but how bad could it be, really? Well, per Ruben’s blog: Freshman year, Coach Gardner introduced me and the rest of the cross country team at UMass Lowell to the infamous “Christian Street Hill” in Lowell, Mass. When I first did the hill, I only ran it halfway because it was absolutely painful (especially for a freshman). The hill is 222ft up covered in just half a mile. When I was getting ready for my New Bedford Half Marathon, I was able to do the full hill 8 times, which was probably one of my best workouts at the time. This has become one of my favorite staple workouts during base phase. The entire run is all continuous which makes it even better. Every successful season I’ve had since going to college has always started with Christian Hill. Check out Sanca’s Blog for the full rundown: http:// So what are Coach Gardner’s thoughts on this? “For Ruben the Christian Hill repeats have always been a benchmark of fitness. Maybe not race ready but fitness for sure,” said Gardner. As far as today’s session, Ruben has this to say: “The one thing I like about these hill sessions is that they truly teach you to relax while taxing the cardio system. When I am doing these, I try to keep my upper body as relaxed and easy as if I’m doing a shakeout morning run. However, this is only possible when I’m feeling somewhat fit. In addition, I also try to make sure I am striking on the ball of my foot as I run up the hill. This is also important because it mimics my foot strike during the 5k which is what I’m training for.” The hill is located in lovely Lowell, MA, and at the time of the workout (5:30 pm), the temperature was in the 40′s. Sounds like perfect weather for testing one’s mettle. With that, let’s get into it: Workout: 5 x Christian Hill (all continuous as part of 10 mile run) Goal: 2:50-2:52 (last workout was March 7 @ 2:52 avg) Warm up: track to Christian Street (18 min) Cool down: jog back to the track (18 min) Rep 1: 2:46 Rep 2: 2:47 Rep 3: 2:47 Rep 4: 2:47 Rep 5: 2:45 Recovery for these consisted solely of the jog back down to the start. Avg: 2:46 Behind the Splits (in Ruben’s words): Warm up: Starting with the warm up from the gym, my legs felt decent. Not heavy or tired, considering I had done a 12/9 double the day before. Rep 1: My goal was to start around 2:52 and then work my way down. This was based on the series of progressions of this workout I’ve done this year. I felt quite relaxed going up, and surprisingly hit Rep 1 at 2:46. After that I figured If I kept things at sub 2:50, it would be one heck of a workout. Rep 2: I went out a little slower through the first half and worked on finishing strong. This rep felt harder than the last one because I had to make up time, but my body was very relaxed. This rep was a 2:47. Rep 3: I went out a little harder on this one, which hurt considering I had finished stronger on the last rep. At the end of this rep, I relaxed 7

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