The coach’s 2016 Team Over The Top Around The Bay running clinic started this Sunday, January 3. As has been the case for MANY years, I hold the opening session on what I term the VALLEY OF DEATH – known locally as Valley Inn Rd. It is the final climb (at the 25.5 kilometre mark of the 30 kilometre Bay race) after a punishing 8 kilometres of hills. This sets the tone physically and mentally for my runners as we proceed toward a most challenging race day.
This is a 75 minute hill drill session that taxes all components of my runners’ fitness – energy systems included. My goals for doing so are as follows:
- to better protect the body from needless hill running injuries
- to activate all key running muscles as well as all synergistic (secondary support) muscles to better balance the body
- to teach the body how to protect against the downward pull of gravity and resultant pounding pressure on the knees, hips and back
- to learn how to flick the heels and slightly lift the knees higher than normal, thus allowing gravity to do the work on the downhill
- to learn how to push UP the hill with the feet landing slightly behind the mid-line quietly and quickly
Some of the drills that I regularly include in my team’s hill training sessions are pictured as follows:
- backwards uphill to activate the extensor chain of muscles and take pressure off the hip flexors
2. side to side shuffle forward uphill to activate the gluteal muscles and hip abductors thus helping to stabilize the pelvic girdle
3. side to side crossover downhill facing to the side to activate and strengthen the lower abdominal wall, lower back muscles, hip adductors and inguinal ligament to improve running balance
4. side to side shuffle downhill facing the side to strengthen the calves, feet, whole core and abductors. This in turn makes forward running easier and safer
5. forward angled weave side to side uphill which takes the pressure off the hamstrings and calves whilst specifically recruiting the tibialis anterior muscles, ankle support muscles, groin muscles and lower back muscles
6. side to side shuffle uphill facing the side to better focus on keeping the body compact, landing more on the mid-foot and strengthen the outer leg chain from feet to hips
Without fail, my runners can NEVER believe it when I announce “session over”. 75 minutes literally flies by. Their focus MUST be total, their practice and repeat of EACH drill MUST be perfect and their pace must be efficient. As a result, even though they are working exceedingly hard, it doesn’t SEEM that way. Where they really notice the improvement is in how easily they run ‘tough’ hills forward up and down without injury. At the end of the day, that’s why I train my runners like this on hills. These are but a sampling of my drill repertoire. If you use your imagination, you’ll figure out the rest of them. Implement these weekly into your training and reap the rewards!!!