Wednesday, 2 January 2013
Marathon des Sables: hill training
The easy bit!
Perhaps not surprisingly, Marathon des Sables has a fair few hills - both of the sand and rocky variety. Some hills are long, slow inclines. Others are brutal sharp, steep inclines.
Last year on day 4 (the long day) the organisers gave us a 2 hour climb up rocks and boulders, before traversing via a rope down the biggest dune I've ever seen.
The big dunes are infamous in MDS, but there are also cutely-named "dunettes" - smaller, rolling dunes that can last for many kilometres.
So hill training has to be a big must in any MDS programme.
Last year, outside, I concentrated on getting up long, sustained hills rather than sprinting up short ones, as that's what MDS is going to test you on.
I devised a good gym session as follows:
5 minute warm up on stepper.
15 minutes on stepper at level 8/9 effort carrying 10kg weight in bag.
15 minutes targeted strength exercises - lunges onto balance ball, one legged squats, side lie glut med lifts.
15 minutes on treadmill. 10% incline. Run 3 minutes at 8.5kmh. Rest 1 minute. Repeat.
10 minute stretching routine.
I also ran a specific hill training session 1x week, but also make sure they were included in most runs too. However, I was a little too haphazard in my approach. I think it would have been better to plan out the hill sessions 1x week so you are slowly increasing the difficulty over time, and making sure you do include specific hill training routines into your running.
I would advise working on:-
Intervals - 250m up to 1 mile. Increase sets slowly up. For 250m, I would work on 5 reps, then increase up to 5x3 sets. For 1 mile, I would work on 2 reps, then increase up to 5 reps.
Medium-long hilly running - plan an run a few routes with considerable hills. If you can get out to somewhere like to Peaks or South Downs, this would be excellent practice. Get out for at least three hours, preferably more. Don't worry about time, just think about getting up and down the hills with good form.
Weight - don't run with your pack on all the time, but do try your hill reps with your heavy pack to get the feel of it. It will shift your balance and posture, so takes some time to adjust. Plus it's much harder with an additional 10kg!
Want more hill talk? See here