I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and got to spend plenty of time with loved ones and family! Mike and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a married couple this year and it was wonderful! San Diego was beautiful on Thanksgiving morning and Mike and I continued our tradition of a good turkey day sweat by heading out to Torrey Pines State Reserve for some good ‘ol hill repeats.
I’m wrapping up my second week of training with my new coach Maria and I’m already so glad that we are working together. The training has been interesting not only in the sense that I’m working base on heart rate now and doing much more cross training, but also in that I have been introduced to a whole new workout – downhill hill repeats!
I’ve incorporated uphill repeats into my training in the past, particularly for the La Jolla Half Marathon in 2011 which includes scaling Torrey Pines’s super steep front-side around mile 4 of the race. Both the San Diego Holiday Half (on tap for December 29) and the Phoenix Marathon have a significant net decline and Maria wants to prepare my quads for the pounding they will be getting. No matter how gradual the decline in these races, my quads will be feeling it and we’re getting them ready.
The workout Maria prescribed for me this week was:
- 10 minute warm-up
- 4-5 minutes of climbing a minimum of 4-6% grade hill, staying in ZONE 2 the entire time.
- Turn around after 4-5 minutes and run down the hill in ZONE 4 (ie hard), focusing on form.
- Repeat for 40 minutes
- 5 minute cool-down.
Instead of running up the extra steep pedestrian friendly section of the hill which weaves through the reserve, I stuck to the more gradual (yet still significant) outside track and ran in the bike lane. I was actually glad I did because the reserve was jam packed with people trying to preemptively sweat off their big dinners and I might have taken someone out on my way down had I ran over there.
I was told to focus on my form as I ran down the hill and I definitely did. Maria and i have been working on my running form quite a bit already, particularly my cadence, which is typically lower than it should be (we should all have a foot turnover rate of about 90 per minute and mine is more like high 70s). When I wasn’t paying attention during the quick downhill sprints, I’d find myself kind of bending my knees and leaning back into my heels as I went down. My stride would be longer and slower. When I paid attention to my form, I’d go move my feet faster under me, lean forward from my ankles and straighten up.
Climbing the hill in Zone 2 was hard and after every downhill interval I had to walk to get my heart rate under control. Then I’d VERY slowly jog up and sprint back down. I got in 6 repeats during the 40 minutes, with the ascending taking about 2.5 times as long as the descending. Overall I was only working hard in Zone 4 for about 12 minutes but it still felt like a great workout. The next day my sore quads also told me that we were working the right muscles!
After our workout Mike and I headed home to make pumpkin pancakes and prep for Thanksgiving dinner at his parents house. We headed over in the afternoon and enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving meal with his parents, his sister and her fiance. I have had a great year and have quite a lot to be thankful for this year, one of which being officially accepted into Mike’s welcoming family.
Do you ever incorporate hill repeats into your workouts? Have you ever done reverse hill repeats?