Last week’s blog introduced the 1st of a series of drills that I use to train my runners in controlling hills whilst strengthening all key running muscles. As a continuation of the theme, today’s blog will outline my more advanced hill drills that help you lock in, square up and run barefoot injury-free no matter what the training or race terrain. The circuit #2 follows the same format as #1 ; that is, do these once per week for a total of 50 minutes on hills that average 300 metres and 8-10% grade. Mix in the # of reps per drill as to which ones you need more work on. Remember that there are no rest breaks between reps, the pace should be fast and strong and allow yourself to take in water only as needed. Finally, mix in doing some of the reps barefoot if you wish to fully activate all components of the running action. The circuit is as follows:
- forward crossovers up and downhill. You must cross over the feet quickly and lightly with the body leaning slightly forward from the hips
- forward side-to-side strides up and downhill. You must shift the whole body over the support leg, landing lightly and forward on the mid-foot. There must be a quick shift to the other leg, keeping the knees bent and the body low to the ground. Again, lean slightly forward from the hips
- alternate forward and backward up and downhill. Switch directions every 10 strides quickly and efficiently with no let-up in pace. This forces you to move lighter at a faster cadence with a better mid-foot strike – all important factors in injury-free running. The drill also takes impact pressure off the knees whilst teaching you how to protect the quadricep muscles from early fatigue
- gradual pace increase forward up and downhill. Start at a relatively slow pace and gradually increase your pace turnover and drive forward every 20 metres until finishing the hill at maximum effort. Run through the top or bottom of the hill, maintaining pace for another 50 metres. Note that you do this running forward only
These are challenging drills BUT, if you follow the progressions, they will make a significant difference in your ability to run injury-free on any terrain…maybe even BAREFOOT!