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Hi everyone. I am running a half-marathon trail race in May (10 weeks to go counting this week) that has substantial hills. In particular, there is an 800-ft climb over a 1-mile stretch early in the race (in the second and third miles), followed by lots of lesser climbs and descents for another 6 miles or so, and then a 700-ft drop over a 2-mile stretch, with more up and downs the last two miles. (The elevation profile for the half is at the bottom of this link - http://www.rungeorgiatrails.com/maps.html.)
I am at somewhat of a loss as to how to train for these types of hills, and even more than that, how to attempt to pace during the race. All things being equal, my expected time for a relatively "normal" road half-marathon would be about 1:45 (perhaps a little faster), or 8:00/mi pace. This morning I sort of "made up" a hill-interval workout on an incline trainer - 1/2 mile intervals at 4% incline, 7%, 9%, 7%, and 4% (2 1/2 miles total on hills), with the 4% intervals run at 8:30/mi pace, the 7% at 9:00/mi pace, and the 9% at 10:00/mi, with about 4 minutes in between at 0% and a slow jog. I completed the workout, but it was difficult (particularly at 7% and 9%). And even the 9% incline pales compared to the climb at the beginning of the upcoming race.
With all of that in mind, any advice on training and pacing, and what to expect on race day, would be helpful. FYI - while I run mostly on roads, I have run several trail races, most recently a 11.5 (fairly hilly) race in February, so that part won't be too unfamiliar. Thanks in advance.
Wow, we're lame for not answering earlier.
I ran a VERY hilly 10 miler in November and a very (but not as) hilly 8k last weekend. As I've gotten older the hills have really started to kick my keister.
I train primarily on the roads (no trails in the neighborhood), and my neighborhood is pretty hilly. The hills, though, aren't as steep or as long as the 10 miler or the 8k. I wound up walking parts of the hills, which really stinks, when my heart rate got ahead of my ability to recover. The miles with walking were significantly slower than normal, and my overall pace in the 8k was 1:00 to 1:20 min/mile slower than what it should have been. The lessons that I take from that is that are (1) I do a poor job keeping the effort level stable during the uphill portions and (2) I need to work to increase my aerobic capacity. The first task is easier to address than the second.
So, in preparation for my next trail race, I am planning on spending time on a stairmaster to get my stride conditioned for the climbing portions of the race.
I hope this helps.
"Victory through attrition!"
Charleston Half-Marathon 1/15/2011 -- 1:52:03
The Scream! Half-Marathon 7/16/2011 -- 1:56:00