The Belly of the BEAST!!!
In Cumbria there is Scafell Pike. In Wales, the Brecon Beacons and Snowdon. Scotland's Ben Nevis towers over them all.
Walthamstow is home to a peak, so fearsome, so legendary, that it is known only as THE BE17AST!!!!
When you crest this monster, and turn, lungs and legs aflame to gaze back on your achievement; on a clear day you can see as far as Chingford.
Okay, I jest. It's no Three Peaks Challenge, but even this modest but surprisingly vicious little hill can supercharge your run training.
Hill training should form an integral part of most people's run training. Hill work can be hard. Hill work can be unpleasant. Hill work can make you feel like your lungs are coming out of your nose.
Hill work can make you a much stronger, more resilient, better and yes, faster runner. Flat runs seem so much easier after a session of hills and your base speed will improve markedly.
Hill training is run specific strength work. By that I mean you are training your body to build strength through running. You are adding resistance to your running movement pattern.
To complete a session strongly you have to hold your posture tall, keeping your eyes on the top of the hill, driving the knees up and forward, bringing the heels through high, and quickly firing into the next stride. You have to pump the arms to drive the legs. Everything is a bigger, more exaggerated version of your regular stride.
Your core needs to work hard, and by doing so it's getting stronger. Your legs need to move faster so you develop better reaction times and basic leg speed.
The effort level is vastly increased. You need more power, and to get more power you need more oxygen, so the heart and lungs are working hard to get that oxygen around your body, up at 90% plus of your maximum heart rate.
All this high intensity work may seem scary to start with, but it's worth it. If you start easily with short intervals of about 15 seconds or so, then recover as you walk down. Don't go off too hard and fade. Start strongly but at a level you can sustain for the full length of the interval.
The key is concentration. Think about how you are moving. If you are slouching, pick up your chest and hips. If you feel your legs are slowing down take shorter, faster strides and pump the arms, driving the elbows backwards. Relax your face, your shoulders and your hands so you can drive your arms smoothly.
Think about how you'd go up a hill in a car. You wouldn't go up a hill in 4th. Change down until you get the revs up and then change up.
Falmer Rd is a great place to start. It's no more than 200m from bottom to top with a climb of about 57ft (don't laugh fell runners).
Even though it's quite short, it still helps to think your way up. It starts quite steeply then levels off a little before the end.
You go off strongly to build momentum, then that will fade a little, so you need to dig in again to get you through the first third. The climb visibly levels off slightly but it's not flat so don't back off or you'll slow down. Push, push, push, driving until you get to the top. Take a breather as you walk and jog back down.
A Basic Hill Workout
Hills are demanding so it's important that you warm up properly. Make sure that you've mobilised throughout your body, then run at a nice easy pace for about a mile or two. Start slowly then build your pace to a steady run by the time you get to the hill.
Run strongly up the hill focusing on running well. The length of your sprint depends on whether you've done this sort of thing before. If you're a complete beginner start at about 15-20 seconds, then in subsequent sessions you can build the interval. 45 seconds to a minute is a good point to aim for.
Once you get to the end you may feel a bit like this...
Get your breath back, then walk or jog back to the start and repeat.
Start with 6 reps for the session then build over the weeks to 10 or 12.
Give yourself about 1:45 - 2:00 recovery in between.
Once you've completed your last hill cool down over a 1 - 2 mile jog.
Then don't forget to stretch out well afterwards and use a foam roller on any tight spots.
Have fun and see you at the top of the hill everyone!!!!!