Thursday, 5 November 2009

Hilly Drills

I'm embarrassed to confess that I've been a bit of a narcissist, and revisited my recent TV appearance from the Great South Run. Apart from the initial horror of my thigh girth for all to see (though they do say telly adds the lbs) and the general unpleasantness of seeing yourself on TV, I was reminded again of my rather inefficient running style. I have a rather long and bouncy stride for someone so vertically challenged. In fact my cadence and stride often mirror M's (who is a foot taller than me with legs that look double the length of mine). I'm really not likely to make huge progress in race times without some attention to my cadence. A point also put to me recently by one or two other polite observers of my recent races.

Anyway, the time has come for action. Apart from trying to build in a return to intervals work in the last few weeks I thought I'd try something a bit different tonight. After some inspiring chat with Bingley superstar Vic W on Saturday I thought I'd give some short hill work a go tonight. The different bit was a focus on form and cadence rather than propulsion. My usual hill efforts involve shifting as quick as I can and covering as much ground as possible within a set time. Tonight was a very different experience, 12 x 90 seconds on a very steep hill, working to pump my arms and increase leg turn-over to the point that it was more of a drill exercise than a hill effort. I covered much less ground that usual and felt a different kind of tiredness; one of working specific muscles rather than the lung burning, oxygen gasping, near coronary experience I usually have during hill work.

However, since uploading my Garmin data my heart rate barely rises above zone 4 leaving me wondering whether the session was effective at all. I've never tried the drills thing before and understand its the done thing for improving leg turn over and holding form. Most of all I need to find an effective way of shifting quicker. Are drills the answer? Or should I just focus on shorter track intervals? Any training experts out there? Answers on a postcard please...

3 comments:

  1. Sarah, I'm no training expert, but the story of Haile Gebrselassie and "Scatman" springs to mind. His coach worked out that he had to increase his cadence to gain the world record, and realised the bpm in the song "I'm a scatman" was the correct rate. So he loaded it on a ipod, and put it on repeat and made him run listening to it.

    I guess the point is to unconsiously align your cadence at its optimum level for your anatomy (natural stride length) and target speed.

    There is also as you mention the issue of "cadence matching", where groups of runners naturally gravitate to a common cadence. As you run a lot with M who has much longer stride and lower cadence then this may not be helping. Trying getting him to shorten his stride, or at least consciously realise that you have to not match his in any way.

    I like the blog by the way, Cheers, Paul (Ilkley Harriers)

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  2. Hi Paul, great to have a visit from an old club mate and nice to know our world greats have similar challenges, even if on a different scale. Not sure I'll opt for the tunes strategy though, I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to running outdoors ;D

    Cadence and stride are key to my sub 35 10k plans so yes, lots more work on the arms and legs should keep me on the right lines. Hopefully the hard work will rub off into the training runs and racing. Any racing plans yourself? (Apart from VLM of course)

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  3. rb..check out chi running...a different approach that makes a lot of intuitive sense..chirunning.com
    depends whether you have a western or eastern mentality as to whether you buy into it..worth a peep anyway

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