Heading into Heavier Training, Plus Uphill and Downhill Running Techniques

I find that the more miles I run, the more I crave running.  The more I feed the addiction, the stronger the addiction becomes. Therefore, I have been anticipating this week when I cross the line into 40+ mile weeks and head into the heart of my 100-mile training plan. This week, I should reach 43 miles of running, plus another 7 of hiking for a 50-mile total.

As I have previously stated, running four times per week seems to be my sweet spot and accordingly, I set up my 100-mile training plan bases on four runs each week plus as much hiking as I can fit in my schedule (along with strength, agility, and mobility training).

On Mondays, I do a kettlebell workout plus a slide board workout at home. Today, after fatiguing my legs and glutes with my home workout, I headed to Argo Road. My home trails at Landahl Park were too muddy to run, but Argo Road, which borders the south side of Landahl, offers a formidable training venue. We don’t have high elevation or 3-mile long climbs where I live, but we do have hills long and steep enough to provide a good workout. Over the six miles I completed today, I accrued 914 feet of elevation gain and 915 feet of loss.

Since I will be facing 16,231 feet of elevation gain and and equal amount of downhill at Black Hills 100, I have spent quite a bit of time reading about how to improve my uphill hiking/running and downhill running strength and form, and experimenting with what I have learned. (No, I don’t plan on running hills at my 100-miler, but running hills in training builds strength.)  Here are a couple of my favorite articles on uphill hiking: Training to walk for ultra, trail and mountain running by Ian Corless, and on uphill running form: Fix Your Hill Running Technique for Faster, Smoother Runs by James Dunne.

The hills on Argo are steep, steeper, and steepest. I ran up each hill as far as I could and then segued into power hiking—at times with my hands on my knees. While running uphill, I thought about running with my hips forward to engage my glutes and to prevent leaning forward at the waist.  Thinking about keeping my shoulders back and chest forward helped provide room for deeper breathing. And swinging my arms strongly definitely helped keep me moving forward up the tough inclines.

The downhills are steep also, and I focused on light, fast foot turnover—lifting my knees straight up and trying to land with my feet behind me. That isn’t possible, of course, but it helps to keep me from overstriding and landing in front of my center of gravity on the downhills. Here is one of the best articles I have found for downhill running tips: Don’t Let Downhills be Your Downfall by Ian Torrence.

 

Argo
Argo Road Elevation Profile from my Garmin

 

I tried to flow down the hills as much as possible, but many of them are so steep that I could not avoid some “braking” as I ran down. I am minimalist when it comes to shoes, but I was glad to be wearing my new Topo RunVentures which offer quite a bit more cushion underfoot than my Inov8 Trailroc 235s or my Inov8 Terra Claw 220s.  Yes, those are all trail shoes. I don’t own any road shoes, since I run almost all my miles on trails and gravel roads.

I felt tired but very satisfied when I finished my Argo Road run. I think I will run this road about every third week of my training from here on out, as much for the downhill running as for the climbs. The downhill running at Black Hills 100 actually concerns me more than the climbs. I want to be sure my legs are ready. (I am also incorporating as much downhill running as I dare on the trails and trying to gradually increase.)

I am looking forward to my first small back-to-back “longish” runs this Thursday and Friday: 12 miles plus hiking on Thursday and 20 miles plus hiking on Friday! I hope to accumulate 36 or more miles on my feet over those two days.

What does your training schedule look like this week?

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Gareth says:

    Wish I had a training schedule including hills, I love them but currently injured so living vicariously through others blogs :p still doing core work etc tho. Keep up that good work and listen to the body!

    Like

    1. I’m sorry to hear you are injured. I have been there (ITBS, high hamstring tendonitis, calf muscle problems, etc) and know how difficult that is both physically and mentally. It’s great that you are doing core work. Keep doing what you can. Do you have a way to do pool running? Can you still cycle without aggravating your injury? Graston (soft tissue work) has been key in helping me heal from injuries and also in keeping me from going over the edge into being injured again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gareth says:

        Thanks for the advice, gonna try cycling tomorrow assuming I can find my pump :p

        Like

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