"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sawtooth training, workout 1

Today I ran my regular hill workout, 90 minutes up and down (one sort of requires the other) the Indian Mounds Park hill. It's not a particularly tough hill, nor a particularly long run, but it's a good place to begin.

Besides the 102.6 miles of the Superior Sawtooth course, there's 20200 feet of climb. It's a little hard to imagine. Since half the course is downhill, half of it is like a treadmill set at a 7.5% gradient - if treadmills were strewn with rocks and tree roots. The Mounds hill is exactly 100 feet of climb in exactly one quarter of a mile, which is very convenient for record keeping; it also happens to be exactly the same pitch as the average of the Superior Trail.

It doesn't look like much in this picture.
By running this regularly at a comfortable pace, it gives me an idea of what pace I can handle at the start of the race, as well as a sense of how quickly I'll slow. 20 repeats of the hill makes one think of what 200 would feel like. It's a humbling reminder.

Once I get comfortable running this for an hour and a half - when I stop improving in pace (not counting winter-related slowing) - then I plan on doing some fast repeats. I want to know I'm able to run hard at the end of this workout, to know I haven't just prepared myself to run 90 minutes and quit.

Many training for Sawtooth do very long very hard hill workouts compared to this, to strengthen the quads for several hours of steep downhills. I have other workouts planned to cover that. Several hours on a ski hill always requires walking uphill and I want to know I can run uphill.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Well, well, well - still insane, I see. It's comforting to know there are some things in this world that remain constant. For you it's heel pain; for me, the knowledge that you're insane in a specific, ultra-runnerish way.

FYI - I fixed my blog post: I went with "'s" instead of "is", only because the latter was your suggestion.

nwgdc said...

Back to Sawtooth, huh. I can't wait to stumble along the SHT at some point in the future. Right now, the intrigue of that trail just grows and grows the more I read about it.
When doing hill repeats, is it ever worth really going after the downhill portion as well? A runner Ince told me that the way to really break a competitor's will is to continue to run at a decent pace upon reaching the top of the hill...a strategy that probably isn't too important in 100, but could be in a 50

Alicia said...

I wouldn't worry about thinking what 200 times will feel like. I did the Grindstone 100 this year (23,000 feet gain) and after every pre-race hill repeat session, I thought "there's no way I can do ten/twenty times that, this is impossible." But race day never even remotely compares to workout day--I always think race day comes with maybe double or triple the energy you have in training.

SteveQ said...

@Nic: The crests of hills always flatten out, so if you're a good uphill runner, accelerating over the top is easy.

@Alicia: I was just thinking of you (real estate law question for Cook County, of all things...)! I tend to think the opposite; I've done workouts of 10000 feet climb and thought I could do that three times easily, when that was really pretty much my limit.