My college coach, Dan Durante, had this great hill circuit right behind his house. For six years we trained on it: 200 meters to the top, short flat area, then hard run down for 500 meters, a short flat, then repeat. We would build up to ten to twelve of these over six weeks and finish with a time trial over 8, which, would eerily parallel what we would run each year for 10,000m on the track.
My senior year, I trained on that hill all winter, building up to 15 repeats. I was strong when spring roads and our short track season appeared. But, when I started racing, I panicked, because my early speed in the races left me a bit behind. I found that I would catch people near the end of the race, but the hills had built me up, and I had not taken enough recovery time. My times were a bit behind last year. I was dumbfounded.
The Sunday afternoon after an okay race, I took a nap. I skipped the second run that day. The next morning, I felt better, and had a decent workout. So, I decided to run hard on hard days, and take easy days really easy.
For the next six weeks, I worked on the track, short repeats two days, and a race or time trial on the weekends. I rested in between, keeping my long run, and then 30 minutes only on easy days.
The end of the season came, and our final race of the season, which I had run 32:40 on the year before, I ran 31:10. I went out and five minute pace felt okay that day. It was only when I hit the track with 800 meters to go, and the guy sitting on my shoulder, a sub four minute miler, just put four seconds on me in the last lap.
The hills were part of the program that worked, without the rest, the short stuff and the racing, my season would not have ended so well. Consider that when you race, when you have a tough day. Ask your coach, ask your training buddies, always stay open to learning.
Saucony RBR Fall RBR Cross Country Training Program, Week 15, Day Four, them hills….
Saucony RBR Fall Cross Country Training Program, Week 15, Day Four
Thursday: 1-mile warm up, 8 hill repeats (run 200 yards uphill, turn, jog downhill to the start. Repeat 7 more times, no rests); on the flat at the bottom of the hill, try for 8×150 yards as easy strideouts, jogging back to the start, no rest between; 1-mile easy cool down.
Or, if a race happens on Thursday and Saturday, finish up with the 10×150 yards and then do your 1-mile easy cool down.