Adaptive Training: San Francisco Marathon Hills (pt 3)

Ok, time to wrap this series up with a brief post on the role of hills in the long run. As I’ve said before, one cannot expect to perform well on a hilly course by reducing hill training to one mid-week session. Hills must become a staple of the long run, especially as you practice your goal marathon pace (GMP). The body, and perhaps more important, the mind must become accustomed to running hills at something close to marathon pace and in a marathon type situation.

A better strategy is to build long runs to resemble the general profile of the race course. A glance at the SF profile shows early climbs that the runner must negotiate. So below you’ll find two recent long runs of mine that try to build on the idea of 1)race course profiling and 2)early hills and leg fatigue followed by late miles at GMP.

Two weeks ago I did a 16 miler with two circuits up Mountain Drive. The plan looked like this:
2 miles warmup
2 miles @ 7:50-8:00 pace
4 miles running up and down Mountain Drive
7 miles @ GMP
1 mile cool

Other than being chased by a mean dog, the run went well and I grew hill strength and the ability to find and hold GMP after climbing and descending. Here is the elevation chart:


This past Sunday my long run called for 17 miles split thusly:
2 miles warm up
2 @ 7:50-8:00
5 miles climbing 11th Street
6-7 miles at GMP (7:37)
1-2 cool

Here is the elevation chart:


So the design behind all of this, as it was last year with Megan’s uber successful SF marathon experience (she had a big PR and BQd), is to replicate, if not exceed, the type of elevation one will see on course, so that when race day comes not only will the runner be able to maintain GMP on the hills but also to train in such a way that what she sees on race day is less than what she faced in training.

Ok, so enough about hills. I’ll have some more stuff soon about marathon training and the SF Marathon. Perhaps tempo runs?

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