The Hill Extension - Train to pick it up at the top of the hill.
Running a hill extension workout can give you a huge edge over your competition. I particularly like this workout for making my cross country runners mentally tough during their races. Instead of relaxing after cresting a hill, we train to return to our race pace immediately.
Here is an example of how we run this workout. First we run our warm up to the base of the hill. The hill that we run is about 1/4 of a mile, and then it flattens out for 200 meters. The hill you pick doesn't have to be this long, or that short either, but you have to find a hill that has a flat section on the top that is at least 100 meters long.
Next it's time to run up the hill. We approach the hill by running it at a smooth and steady pace. To run hills successfully you need to gauge how much energy you are putting forth. We try to give the same level of effort that we would running on a flat part of the course.
At the top of the hill, it's time to switch gears and pick up the pace. This is difficult to do after running up the hill, but trains your body and mind to switch gears when cresting a hill. This tactic is devastatingly effective in cross country races where runners often slow down at the top of a hill. We run between 100 to 200 meters quick. That's how you extend the hill.
Once we have finished one, we turn around, jog back to the base of the hill and repeat. It's up to you to pick how many times to run it, but a safe rule is to do about half the time of a normal distance run. I like to run for 30 minutes, so my hill extension workout lasts only 15 minutes. This doesn't count the warm up or cool down though.
Speaking of a cool downs, don't forget to jog for a while after you have finished running those hills. That's all there is to it. Now start running some hill extensions. Make yourself mentally and physically tough.
Are you still looking for more because you want to run a fast marathon? tips4running.com recommends the 100 Day Marathon Plan created by an Olympic Distance Runner. The tips here are great, but this is a program that can take you from day one of your training all the way through the finish line of your fastest marathon ever.
- Written by David Tiefenthaler
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