Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Up Hills with Dawn

I love reading the various ultra and trail running blogs out there. I especially like getting insight and instruction from the top Dawgs in the sport. They probably have no idea how valuable their insight, technique tips, and training advice means to the rest of us. Recently, however (there’s always a “however” after throwing out such lavish praise), I’ve been scratching my head over some of the technique advice offered by a couple of the Bigs.

Scott Jurek and the Speed Goat have offered advice on up hill running that is great. In fact, I just used some of Scott’s technique in running the hills this morning. It’s great that these guys are providing this type of advice whether they get compensated for it or not. Good advice is hard to find.

The issue I have with it is that most people should not be running the up hills in an ultra event. It’s the perfect formula for fried quads and bonking. Their advice applies to trail running and not specifically ultras, so I can’t really take issue with it. However, some neophytes may not realize the subtle difference. Before my first ultra and again before VT100 in 2006, my ultra mentor, Jim Campiformio, told me to walk up anything that looks like a hill. Run the flats and the down hills and save your energy on the ups.

My girlfriend, Dawn, is preparing for her first ultra, so I tried to teach her this technique on Sunday. She seemed hesitant to do any walking during a training run, but I really wanted her to get used to the idea of walking. She reluctantly walked when I did. We managed the same pace with much less effort. OK, maybe Scott, Tony, Mark et al are running these hills, but we are not at that level yet. The goal here is to finish the race.

Toward the end of our run together, Dawn walked a hill that I usually run up. I was glad she decided to walk it. After finishing our 7-8 mile loop together, she planned to do another loop in the opposite direction including walking the Big Hill.

I continued on my way and saw her 2 more times as we were going in opposite directions. She seemed to be in good spirits and later indicated that her 2nd loop seemed much faster than the first one. Later that day and the next day, Dawn mentioned that her chronically inflamed shins were not bad at all. Hmmm….maybe there’s something to walking these hills.

So, I offer this advice to all of you….Walk them thar Hills!

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