Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Training for Vertical when all you have is Horizontal

Post-Race Notes:
-Got through the VK, but was unprepared for how steep Whiteface is; I was happy to finish it and enjoy some gorgeous views and shared stories and laughs with fellow racers.
-Poles would have been helpful. 
-Treadmill not adequate for such a steep grade. Good for uphill races in the past that weren't as steep, but this time around it didn't really translate as I had hoped.
-Hiking at these grades very different than more runnable uphill running!
-Super impressed by how fast some people can climb! 
-Interesting time being in the Adirondacks with the huge manhunt going on for the escaped convicts.
-Totally recommend this race weekend for people looking for a fun challenge. Very well-organized and a fun, inclusive atmosphere.


We live near the shores of Lake Ontario, which I sometimes call a 'big old stupid lake'. I call her that affectionately because I love lakes, and I know I take for granted how fortunate we are to have so many of all sizes in Ontario. It's just that sometimes I would trade in a few lakes for even one modest mountain. In that respect we're a bit lucky too because we can drive 3 hours in pretty much any direction and find lots of nice mountains or really big hills. For everyday training though, we're left to find other ways to get vertical.

Since March I've been hitting the treadmill and hills in preparation for the Whiteface Vertical Weekend coming up June 27 and 28 in Wilmington, New York. The VK is about 1,000 m vertical over 4 km, so a grade of 25%. The SkyMarathon is around 30 km and 2,920 m of vertical. 

I've done phases of treadmill uphill workouts in the past, and I find they have a dramatic effect on uphill stamina over the weeks of workouts. We'll have to see how it goes, but really my main objective is to enjoy the challenge of the two back-to-back races and use it as training opportunity and launching point towards increased training for my fall goals. It is exciting to have this event come to the beautiful Adirondacks. 

Below are the hill workouts I did along with the usual mix of increasing long runs and overall volume, lots of yoga and some plyometric and strength sessions.  

Some notes:
- It is really important to take recoveries at flat incline at the beginning to let the calves, achilles and plantar fascia get used to the strain. (It would be helpful to use a higher drop shoe as well.) I only had to do this for the first week, but in the past I've done it for the first two or three workouts.
- I don't often make a note of the pace because finding a sweet spot of sustainable effort is more the point. Treadmill calibration can be off anyway. 
- Gym workouts provide great heat training too. I looked like I came out of a pool after. I didn't find I suffered nearly as much in the transition to warmer outdoor running this year which was a nice side effect.
- The workouts are intense and require adequate recovery. I noted feeling a bit woozy/dizzy near the end of some of them, which was my choice to push that hard since I wasn't racing at all during this period and I wanted some intense efforts. 
- I spaced them at least a week apart, sometimes more.
- On the outdoor hills I used the opportunity to push the downhills a bit to get used to the leg pounding.
- For the treadmill workouts I resisted switching to a hike even when the incline was considerable and my running pace slowed to a crawl. I feel that hiking practice has its place if you have big and steep enough outdoor hills, but shorter hills are better spent running. On on a treadmill the moving belt prevents the right muscles from doing the work, at least for me, so the treadmill is just for the cardio element.

Mar 13 - Treadmill uphill tempo (52 min total)
20' w/u
4' @ 5%
1' flat
4' @ 6%
1' flat
4' @ 5%
1' flat
1' @ 5%,6%,5%,6%
13' c/d

Mar 20 - Treadmill uphill tempo (55 min total)
w/u 20'
5' @ 5%
5' @ 6%
5' @ 7%
5' @ 8%
c/d 15 min
Vertical 210 m

Mar 27 - Treadmill uphill tempo (60 min total)
20' wu
30' uphill at 6:31/km
5' @ 6%
5' @ 7%
5' @ 8%
2x(1' each @ 6%,7%,8%,9%,10%)
5' @ 6%
10' c/d
Vertical 335 m 

Apr 3 - Long Road Hills (71 min total)
20' w/u
3 x entire hill (distance 960 m, varying steepness)
1 - 5:42 up (5:09 down)
2 - 5:38 up (5:04 down)
3 - 5:41 up (5:04 down)
20' c/d

Apr 11 - Long Road Hills (84 min total)
wu 20
up 5:40 down 4:55
up 5:37 down 5:01
up 5:43 down 5:09
up 5:47 down 5:03
c/d 21'

Apr 23 - Very Steep Trail Hills (88 min total)
Wu 32'
Started from top:
1 - 1:44 down, 2:22 up
2 - 1:48, 2:21
3 - 1:40, 2:22
4 - 1:40, 2:19
5 - 1:37, 2:20
6 - 1:35, 2:17
Cd/ 34'.

May 5 - Moderate Trail Hills (70 min total)
20 wu
Alternated shorter/longer
S1-2:07 (2:03 down)
L1-2:21 (2:03)
S2-2:03 (1:50)
L2-2:18 (1:58)
S3-2:05 (1:47)
L3-2:15 (1:58)
S4-2:01 (1:43)
Cd 19'

May 12 - Treadmill uphill tempo (79 min total)
20' wu
3 x 15' at generally increasing incline, with 2' on flat between
set 1 up to 14%, ~9:00/km, 202m vert, 1.78km
set 2 up to 18%, ~10:00/km, 223m vert, 1.79km
set 3 up to 20%, ~10:00-10:20/km, 238m vert, 1.45km
10' cd
Workout total 5k going up 663 m in 45' (14.7 m/min).

May 23 - Very Steep Trail Hills (46 min total)
20' wu
1-2:14 (1:37 down)
2-2:11 (1:38)
3-2:05 (1:38)
4-2:16 (1:44)
10' cd

June 2 - Trail Hills (61 min total)
21' wu
Moderate Hill:
1-1:30 (1:26)
2-1:25 (1:20)
3-1:24 (1:18)
4-1:24 (1:17)
Ran over to Steeper Hill in 4:33 at tempo effort
1-1:13 (1:02)
2-1:11 (0:58)
3-1:10 (0:56)
4-1:11 (0:58)
13' cd

June 12 - Treadmill uphill tempo (66 min total)
3 x (2' at 10,12,14,16,18,20%) with 5' at flat between. 
Verticals for each were 221, 201, 203 m.
Workout total 36' going up 625 m (17.4 m/min).