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Summer Training Series - Training tips to keep you strong in the off season

Posted by John Ellis on

Hill repeats - May 2015


Photo credit: Thomas Loehndorf

With the summer heat and humidity almost upon us, the all-day trail sessions are becoming much more difficult - so how can runners stay strong over the next few months? We spoke to Andrew Cox, Joint Dynamics Director of Training, Hong Kong fitness guru and the brains behind the weekly Joint Dynamics Power Run class, Andrew Cox, on one of his preferred running workouts that is also a great hot weather alternative.

"In my opinion, hill sprints are one of the greatest strategies for building strength for runners both physically and mentally.

"Physically - hill sprints build serious strength, especially in the posterior hip muscles (glutes). You get added stress and load to stimulate strength and power gains, plus it is a great way to increase stride length, as the downhill can have positive effects on stride frequency. Also, hill running decreases the need for deceleration - it is during deceleration where most injuries occur, and there is less compressive force on the body compared to flat or downhill so you can really go hard out while minimising the likelihood of injury. On that note, hill sprints require adequate range of motion at the ankle and anterior hip, so be sure to mobilise or adequately stretch your calf complex and hip flexor muscles prior to engaging in hill repeats.

"In terms of mental benefits, anyone who has felt the muscular and cardiovascular discomfort of hill repeats and gone back for more has to be mentally strong and disciplined. That is also a skill to be developed. Hill sprints on a regular basis will build the will and resilience to make all other changes seem less daunting."

So what sort of hill works? A medium slope of 6-10% that takes 45-90 seconds is ideal. These should be run at roughly 1-2km effort, with a slow jog back to the start, and maintaining an even pace throughout the session - don't blast the first run and fade at the end! Limit sessions to 1-2 per week given the intensity, with beginners starting at 3-4 repeats, while experienced runners can aim for 12-14. 

We find the hill on Middle Gap Road, starting near the Wanchai Gap end of Black's Link and finishing at the crest, to fit the bill nicely - but please give way to traffic. For more competitive runners, join the Gone Running Strava club and have a go at the Gone Running Challenge - Middle Gap hill repeats Strava segment.

We will give a $300 store voucher to anyone who can beat Neil Atkinson to become the club CR holder at the end of June - plus you get bragging rights too!!


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