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New Coaching Call! How to Train For Your First Hilly Trail Race

Hilly races present a unique set of challenges for runners who are used to going the distance. How can training be optimized and what types of workouts specifically target performance on hilly terrain?

hilly trail race

If you’re thinking hill repeats – you’re not wrong. But there’s far more to it. If your goal is to perform your best in an event, not just the uphill section, there are many other elements to training for a hilly race. Focus on power and endurance is key.

Power developed through strength training enables muscle recruitment for those grueling hills. And endurance provides the aerobic energy and intensity needed to finish a race.

Specifying workouts for a particular hilly race depends on many factors such as:

  • Elevation gain over the entire course
  • Weather during the race
  • Altitude of the location
  • Gradients of hills – are they short and steep, rolling, or something else?
  • Length of the race
  • Runner’s history of injuries

Considering all these factors, you need to train with race specificity in mind. On today’s podcast, we discuss just that with a runner who is setting out to do her first hilly trail race. She has 10 weeks before the race and is working from a solid foundation of weekly mileage.

Training for a Hilly Trail Race

Team Strength Running member Aileen is a longtime runner preparing for her first hilly trail race. She has a solid background with a few half marathons and a marathon under her belt. Aileen is passionate about running and, like many of us, has to balance her training with the demands of work and family life.

Aileen has also had a fair share of injuries throughout her years of running. She has wisely dedicated time to strength training, following the High Performance Lifting program, but hasn’t been lifting recently due to COVID and other factors.

As you can hear in the clip, I encourage her to get back to the gym so she can recruit that strength during the race.

We also review some specifics of her weekly workouts and I suggest a gradual increase in her long run as well as adding some terrain specific runs. For all the details, check out the full episode below.

And if you are interested in joining out community of runners, read more about the Strength Running Team that Aileen is a part of.

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunesSpotifyStitcher, iHeartRadio, or Google Play.

Listen to the entire episode:

Links & Resources from the Show:

Thank you Elemental Labs!

Elemental Labs

A big thanks to Elemental Labs for their support of this episode! They make electrolyte drinks for athletes and low-carb folks with no sugar, artificial ingredients, or colors.

They’re also offering free product: just pay for shipping and you can get their sample pack including 8 packets of citrus, raspberry, unflavored, and orange salt varieties.

Elemental Labs’ products have some of the highest sodium concentrations that you can find. Anybody who runs a lot knows that sodium, as well as other electrolytes like magnesium and potassium, are essential to our performance and how we feel throughout the day.

The citrus flavor has quickly become my favorite. I’m drinking one a day now to help me get enough fluids in our dry Colorado air. It’s tasty and delicious and I find that I’m not peeing every 45 minutes throughout the day, which might be an indication I wasn’t eating enough sodium.

There’s now mounting evidence that higher sodium intake levels are not unhealthy – and athletes need substantially more than your typical sedentary person. Of course, ask your doctor if you’re worried. But for those athletes running outside in the heat, an electrolyte replacement makes a lot of sense.

So check out Elemental Labs to try their sample pack for free and get your hydration optimized for the upcoming spring season.

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