photo courtesy Paul Higgins
by Sarah Piampiano
Ed. Note—run month continues here on the Wattie Ink. blog, with an ominously titled session called "The Hills of Doom" from professional triathlete Sarah Piampiano. What is it with our athletes and workouts like this? We will file this one along with Joe Gambles' "Ladder of Death" session.
Towards the beginning of most running seasons, coaches everywhere prescribe hill workouts. Athletes dutifully perform them, but do they know why, or what they're getting out of them? Coaches often will simply tell you "Ah, they're for strength," but that's a bit of a non-answer. What kind of strength? Muscular? Aerobic? The session below is a take on a classic Arthur Lydiard workout that achieves the following goals:
- Stimulates the higher end of your running engine without the damage of running fast on the track or road.
- Engagement of muscle groups not often used in flatter running (glutes and hamstrings, in particular)
- Leg speed/core engagement while completing the downhill running sections.
OK, with that out of the way, let's get to Sarah's Hills of Doom!
Favorite Winter Run Session: Hills of Doom
What: a two-and-a-half mile loop that includes a one-mile progressively steeper hill (from very moderate to almost un-runnable at the top) into a three-quarters of a mile downhill section into a three-quarters of a mile flat section. The workout is three or four times though the loop, continuously running the whole time.
The uphills are worked hard, the downhills are controlled but strong focusing on foot speed and turnover, and the flats are "recovery" but tempo (between 70.3 and Ironman pacing). Follow the hill section with 1x20' on the flat at 70.3 pace/effort.
I love this workout more than any other run workout I do. It builds strength and gluteus activation, factors in leg turnover and foot speed and includes some tempo pieces for rhythm. I typically warm up about twenty minutes and cool down about fifteen to twenty minutes, for a very solid eighteen-to-twenty miles in total.
There ya go! Enjoy!
Sarah Piampiano, Professional Triathlete
20' easy warmup
Three or four times through the following:
1 mile progressively steepening hill run "hard" or 7-8/10 effort
3/4 mile downhill run "strong" or 6/10 effort, focus on leg speed
3/4 mile flat run "steady" or 5-6/10 effort
Once you finish your hill work, run 20' at 70.3 pace/effort
CD for 15-20' minutes
Go back to bed for the day