Strides and Hills

I've recently incorporated a minor tweak into my training routine, which already seems to help. I got the idea from an article by Marc Bloom on ESPN about the hugely successful North Shore (NY) High School Girls distance program coached by Neal Levy. Unlike many programs that are very interval-oriented, Levy has his runners incorporate strides at the end of runs on some days and run hilly courses on other days. The only fast stuff they do are their races! This quote sums it up:

The North Shore training mix is a peon to old-school thinking. It’s short on razzmatazz and long on development. It’s not the stuff of clinics, not if you’re looking for the new hot workout. The basics, through summer, fall, winter, etc., as Levy said, are: (1) Run 10 days straight, then take a day off; (2) run hills three times a week in a 65-minute road run in which you do 10 minutes on the flat, 45 minutes on a hilly route (pushing the up hills, easing off on the down hills), then finish with 10 minutes on the flats; (3) other days run 45 to 65 minutes on the flat followed by 8 x 30-second strides; (4) do one longer run of 90 minutes in the 10-day cycle.

With that approach in mind I've started to incorporate 6 x 30 seconds at 3K/5K effort near the end of my easy 8 milers in the neighborhood (very flat terrain) and today was my first stab at a hill run where I repeated a hilly 2 mile segment in the metro park four times, hitting 8 hills ranging from about 150 - 300 meters. I didn't sprint the hills but pushed into the higher end of my aerobic hear rate zone trying to focus on form and stay smooth. Unlike the North Shore gals, I will continue with my regular tempo runs though as I do not race near as often as high school and college runners do. As I tend to take a few days off each week my ideal would be two hill runs, two flat runs with strides and a race, tempo or interval workout for my hard workout.

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