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Hill training #Trailteam2014

by kirsty
Tuesday 3rd June 2014
Tags  Kirsty Reade   |   Hill Training   |   UTMB   |   Trail Team 2014   |   Berghaus   |   Torq running

Run247 columnist and Trail Team 2014 member Kirsty Reade shares how she's preparing for the big climbs in the alps whilst living in the gentle rolling hills of the South

Living in Berkshire, where we enjoy nice gentle rolling hills, isn’t always great preparation for races where the hills are of a much more murderous incline. But I have some excellent strategies beyond the obvious hill reps to ensure that my legs do their vertical homework.

1. Tyre training

My coach Marvellous Mimi Anderson is a big fan of this, and now so am I. Once you get over the initial embarrassment of greeting walkers and cyclists while dragging a tyre behind you (fortunately most are too polite to say anything … to your face) and you master the art of trying not to drag it through mud or puddles (you really don’t need any extra weight in there), this provides an amazing workout. Small, gentle hills are transformed into quad busting cliffs and within a few short weeks your jeans will no longer fit your thighs.

Photos: Tyre training. The steps of doom © Suzanne Fowler

2. Steps

When we do hill sessions at my running club (at the very lovely Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire) I like to incorporate some reps of a nice long climb up some steps. My club mates really love this and they have dubbed them (affectionately, I presume) ‘the steps of doom’. They may sweat and swear all the way up them but I know they really like them, and they certainly do me a lot of good.

3. Secret weapon

Photos: The hills of the Lake District give the quads a good workout

There’s obviously no replacement for the real thing so I make sure I do some races and training weekends in places with mountains. Transvulcania was great UTMB training for me and this weekend I made one of my regular trips up to the Lake District. As well as having miles and miles of amazing trails and more fells than you could ever run (unless you’re Steve Birkinshaw HERE) it’s also the home of Britta Sendlhofer, editor of Run247 and big fan of making me run up hills. Because an injury has stopped her doing much running for the last couple of years Britta has been helping me with my training by plotting great routes and sending me off into the hills, but she’s back running now and I was really looking forward to running together again.

I got up to the Lakes on Saturday morning in beautiful sunshine and headed straight out on my own to do the Fairfield Horseshoe, a really beautiful route with a lot of climbing in the first half. Within about 100 metres of setting off I’d come across a group of young people who looked more like they’d just returned from a night out than they were heading out for a day’s walking. The only liquid they had with them was a litre bottle of some evil looking energy drink, which one of them was sat on the floor swigging. I wasn’t fancying their chances of getting much further. I had a really lovely run round the Fairfield Horseshoe, concentrating on going for it on the uphills and trying really hard not to be a big baby on the technical downhill bits. Then I headed up for a couple of loops round Loughrigg, before calling it a day and retiring for a well-earned late lunch.

Photos: Forgetting all about the hills - stunning views and good banter © Suzanne Fowler

The next morning Britta and I headed out with her collie, Rook, and after about 30 minutes of gentle climbing out of Ambleside Britta ordered me to go and run up a hill, wave when I got to the stile at the top, then really go for it on the descent while she timed me. This was just what I needed to push me a bit more. We did a couple of reps of this to see if I could get quicker. Then we headed up to Red Screes, which is a big climb (776m) – again, just what I needed. We climbed up in a bit of Lake District mist but as we descended it cleared and we had amazing views. It was a great long descent for me to practise not being a baby on, with the added training aid of an excitable collie on a retractable lead, requiring a bit of extra speed when he tried to take your legs out with his lead.  

Descent complete we headed over to Wansfell, another fairly big climb (488m), which I was ‘encouraged’ to tackle while Britta headed off home to put the kettle on. I have to say that nothing beats the feeling of getting to the top of a really big hill so it was a great way to round off a fantastic weekend of running. Except I still had 488m of descent to go, which I tackled as bravely as my now aching quads would allow. A great weekend of running and seeing friends.

Roll on the next training trip, which is going to be in Chamonix with the Trail Running Team #Trailteam2014


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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