We’ve had a great return to the season for our Obstacle Course Race team. Plenty of spirit and drive to kick butt. But with great spirit and perseverance comes great responsibility.
Before I touch on the three skills you might be neglecting in your training, I want to mention that you can’t beat yourself up every day with hard anaerobic training and expect great results. You’ll get good results for a little while, until you get injured or you burn out. Depending on your race, there’s a more than good chance that your racing an aerobic race. That means your aerobic engine needs to be running well and trained well. In fact, in almost any literature and studies you’ll read that most professional runners spend about 80% of their training in their aerobic zone (easy running at a speed that’s easy for that particular athlete). An easy run is roughly a minute to a minute and a half slower than your 10km race pace.
Finally, run outside as often as you possibly can. A treadmill or running track is a last-ditch effort because of extreme weather or injury. If you can run outside, run outside – no matter what you are told, 1% or 2% incline on a treadmill might mimic the average incline of outdoors, but it doesn’t mimic the inconsistency of footing and changing angles.
3 Skills in Racing you might be neglecting
1. Power hiking
It takes time and practice to build the right muscle and confidence to get up steep hills using upper body and more glute and hamstring strength so when you get to the top, your legs are good to go through the flats or lesser inclines. This strategy is great to keep up speed when you can’t run up steep inclines. Even at the Elite level, studies were conducted and the athletes that trained to power hike beat the athletes that weren’t trained (and ran instead) in energy expenditure over distance, every time (this study used marathon and ultra-marathon athletes, but they believe the science still applies dependent on the athlete and size of the hill).
2. Downhill Running
It’s scary and takes training to get comfortable with. Letting your body go and running downhill at top speed is a skill you have to work on to get good at. Look 20′ in front of you when you’re running so you can analyze the terrain and make decisions long before you arrive. If you are looking straight down, you won’t have time to correct for terrain inconsistencies. Downhill running also prepares your knees and other ligaments, tendons and cartilage for the abuse downhill will bring.
3. Running uphill
The 400 meter hill we did allowed for some speed. Although a lot of races go straight up tall mountains, you still want to develop run speed and endurance (stamina) to push yourself in training and when you hit rolling hills in a race, you aren’t required to power hike everything.