There's an inspirational tip in this month's Runner's World about ditching the junk miles : Cranking out endless miles won't necessarily make you a faster finisher, according to Dan Robinson. The 'one run fits all' approach to training, he says, is what doner kebabs are to healthy eating. "Try to avoid junk miles where you're just running for the sake of it. Make every run count, whether it's a recovery run, long run or speed-endurance session."
This is a quote that I'll keep in the back of my mind, as I've spent most the this year just getting the miles in my legs.
I've really focused on speed and pacing over the past few months, so for today's 15-mile run I wanted to concentrate on hills and running form.
I chose a route from Hardgate through Bearsden, over the Langbank hill and then back through Milngavie. It's very undulating to say the very least.
I've been researching running form, so tried to put some theories into practice.
Running uphill: Increase forward lean (but not from the waist). Shorten stride. Increase arm, foot and knee drive. Switch to ball-heel foot action. Maintain breathing. By shortening stride and maintaining strike rate, it should be easier to keep moving at pace when you've reached the crest. Since the rate it there, you only have to extend stride length to regain speed.
Running downhill: Take the breaks off and roll. Lean forward from the pelvis. "develop a feel for downhill running so you flow smoothly with the hill like a mountain stream". The key is quicker turnover. Decrease stride at the start of hill. On steep declines, land on the ball of your foot. Push off from the heel. Strike lightly. Arms not needed for power - just balance. Stay relaxed.
The main aim was to try and keep a consistent strike rate - regardless of the gradient.
It was pretty windy out there and the hills really emptied my legs. The course takes in a few stonking hills. The last one nearly had me on my knees. Even the last two miles downhill was a struggle.
Finished in the 15 miles (drenched, frozen and cross-eyed) in 2:16:58. Pace 9.08. Pretty gutted, as I wanted to keep long run pace under 8.45, but the hills really slowed me down. On a more positive note, according to McMillian my long run pace (for my target 3.40 marathon) is 8.54-9.54. Check me out, trying to stay upbeat. Now I just need to get some life in my legs for my office Christmas party. After ceilidh dancing in heels, today's adventure will seem horseplay.