Workout for Specific Section of Race – Long Climb

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  • #64044
    riley weaver


    I’m taking part in an earlier season 35km trail race before some longer events later in the summer this coming May. I am looking to start incorporating some workouts into my training which specifically will prepare me for what is the crux of this particular race, namely a long climb that begins about halfway through the course.

    Here are some details:

    -the climb begins at about 16km into the race, after already about 750~m of gain
    -it consists of 610m of gain over 10km
    -the terrain is brutally runnable i.e. it never gets steep or technical enough such that one is better off power hiking, at least on fresh enuff legs 😉
    -the climb is followed by an 8km descent which is all but straight down steep, technical trails to the finish
    -in past races, the fastest runners have all made it up this climb in between 55-60 minutes (around 5:40/km-6:02/km or 9:07/m-9:40/m pace)

    I’m curious as to whether anyone has any recommendations for specific workouts for this style of terrain, with the above considerations in mind: a hard, long runnable climb following an already considerable amount of gain!

    I am attempting to slot myself in amongst those fastest times listed above. In past races, the field has tended to go out quite hot on the first half, and the outcome has typically been decided on this climb. My downhill running is currently a strength, and the strategy for the race is to treat the top of the climb like the finish, and to blast down the descent once my legs catch up to me a bit.

    An added benefit is the race is in my home town, and so I can and will be training on those trails, so workouts can not only mimic the terrain in question, but take place on it! I’ve run the entire course in chunks, and have in particular the first half and final descent pretty dialled in terms of lines, effort, pacing etc.

    Thanks in advance, and I appreciate any and all input!

Posted In: Mountain Running

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    Anonymous on #64065

    Thanks for writing in with this question. What you do for training between now and the race depends on what you’ve been doing and what areas you feel you need to work on most. One question I would have for you is: Can you run 6min/km for 10km at that grade when you are fresh?

    You have maybe 8 weeks for this training so you need to make it count because you will lose one of those weeks to a taper. If you have not done a base period prep of Muscular Endurance you’re getting a bit too close to the race to start that now. Now will be the time to shift training to uphill running intervals. Since you live close to the course maybe you can do some race specific pace work on that section of the course. If you answered yes to my question I would suggest doing KM repeats at race pace on that section of the course so you can get a feel for the effort and pacing. These should be done at your target pace. Week one start with 6x1km with full recovery and see if you can sustain that pace throughout the 4 reps. As the weeks progress first add reps till you get to 8x1km. This will ensure that actually can run this fast. That’ll eat up 3 weeks. Then start reducing recovery time between reps. This will build endurance. Start with 3min recovery and drop by 1 min each week. If you can accelerate this and get down to where you are able to do 8x1km with say 1min recovery you will have the capacity on race day. Ideally all this wold have taken place over a longer time to have the best effect. But given the compressed time frame that’s what I would go with.

    I hope this helps.

    riley weaver on #64073

    Hi Scott,

    Thank you for your thorough and erudite response!

    I should have mentioned it in the post, but I feared it was already long-enough, and I didn’t want to write too much; in any case, I am about 12 weeks into a training program designed for a 50 miler late August here in Squamish. Presently, I am running around 90km a week, with between 3-4k of vertical gain in the mix. Each build week includes at least one variation of hill interval workout, sometimes on more runnable terrain, and sometimes up the classic steep, technical trails which frequently require strong power hiking.

    Last week, in the middle of a 30k run, I ran the climb in question in just north of 70 minutes, the likes of which included a snow laden final 2km which had me hiking up shin-knee deep snow. The effort itself was very measured. I am fairly certain that on fresh legs and trail alike, I could run its length at 6min/km, if not slightly faster.

    Given where I’m at in my program, and with the above information in mind, would you still recommend starting at 6x1km @ race pace w/ 3 minute breaks, or do you think I would be better off jumping to 8x1km w/3 minutes break, and going from there?

    Thanks again for your time and insight!

    brianbauer on #64437

    610m over 10km puts that climb in the dreaded “douche grade” category of around 6%( btw, I did not invent that term, its a real mashup of French and English. I have heard Chris Horner refer to a “shower grade” in his cycling analysis…its the same thing). its the ethereal line between run/hike…in shorter races for me its always run, in long races and/or at altitude, it may be run/hike.

    personally, in a 35km race I would be aiming to run that 6% grade in a comfortable, just below LT pace, finding the line at sustainable. I do a lot of training for skimo racing and sky racing that involves finding the max level of effort that can be sustained for an hour and still enable a full recovery on downhills or flats. so for me, I train the specifics of the races I am going to be doing.

    robsinco on #64770

    Yo Riley,

    Agree with Scott and Brian, nothing beat specificity so just get out on your backyard race climb and repeat repeat, learn the lay of the land by doing your various hill rep sessions on it. If didn’t destroy your training I would try some uphill tempo efforts could be a good session provided this fitted in with your plan specifics. Another way you could spice up that climb on a session is to run the climb for reps at a moderate sustainable pace then really work the downs, really toughen up the legs for race day.

    A non-specific way to do this and more for working on your engine output would be to take the specific of the climb and simulate this on a treadmill – I was working a lot on this over the winter here in Scotland before the sun decided to get his hat on. Hopefully heading out to Tromso in August and a few other skyraces and it is a tool that I am considering using to simulate the really long climbs when we cannot always get out to the mighty mountains. I often over prepare for things like this which can over cook the gas before a race so defo air on the side of caution and have faith in your current training – it sounds like you are on high path to success with all the prep you are doing already!

    All the best man!

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