How To Do Hill Repeats

Find a hill for your hill repeats that is approximately 500-600 feet long. You want the hill to be steep enough that you are tested – but you want to be able to maintain proper form as you climb.

You want to make sure that you are warming up before you start your hill repeats. A nice slow and easy 1½ miles is a good warm-up before you get to your hill. You want to speed up slightly as you start up the hill – a good rule of thumb is your 5K pace. Push yourself, but make sure that you are keeping proper running form.

Make sure that you are not looking at your feet – concentrate on 10-15 feet ahead of you. This keeps you focused your hill. It is also important to make sure that you keep your shoulders relaxed – don’t tense up. As you pump your arms, keep them low and swinging front to back. Some runners cross them side to side in front of them – and this will hamper you in getting up the hill. Keeping your arms pumping lower and your stride will shorten and quicken – which will also help propel you up the hill.

As you reach the top of the hill – don’t stop – keep running through the crest of the hill. Slow down and jog slowly down the hill for your recovery. Then, do the hill again. After your repeats, make sure that you do an easy mile or so for a cool down.

To begin, you only should do 2-3 repeats during a workout. Then, you can add 1 repeat a week. Most advanced runners will run between 8-10 repeats in their workout. Also, you only need to do hill repeats once a week. You may also want to do different hills for your workouts – trying steeper hills one week and a longer hill another week.

Running hill repeats really can help you to become a stronger runner. They will hurt a little in the beginning, but after a while you will definitely see how they are helping you with your overall running.

Comparing Vibram Shoes

The issue of injury in running is also the main reason why many people are getting intrigued with the Vibram shoes. This brand of minimalist running shoes claims to possess the most comfortable and safe means of running. By theory, it really doesn’t provide a cure to prevent all injuries. But what does instead minimizes at least the same risks and at the same time offer maximum performance.

So the essence of any Vibram shoe is to let everyone engage in running while making sure they don’t risk themselves and their body to injury and pain. Now let us take look at the most popular models of the product line.

KSO

The KSO is labeled by many as the runner’s perfect choice. The acronym stands for Keep Stuff Out. The design basically provides better protection compared to other similar products from outside forces and debris such as water, dust, mud, and others, hence the term keep the stuff out. It also utilizes a strap for the purpose of better fitting and comfort. Apart from the strap, it is also equipped with the least amount of foot sole inside, making it ideal for more flexibility and feedback.

KSO Trek

The Trek is a KSO upgrade in many ways. For one, it uses kangaroo leather, which in turn has been proven to be more durable compared to that of the regular nylon material. The same kangaroo leather can last up to a hundred and thirty miles. The Trek is specifically designed with more treading. This corresponds to being the perfect footwear for running and taking on gravel, sand, and other tough terrains. The Trek is also a lot more stylish and cooler than the first KSO.

Bikila

Finally, you have the very popular Bikila. This footwear deviates from the notable weaknesses found in the KSO and other previous models. This is still intended for running but there is more treading. It provides the best comfort a Vibram footwear could offer. The plastic protector placed on the top of the toes also comes in handy for long mileage.

Pack a Backpack Correctly

  • Get the heavy stuff as close to your body as is possible. This last summer we saw some guys heading up The Beaten Path with heavily loaded internal frame packs. One guy had a large item clipped to the very back of his pack. As they loaded up their packs, the guy very nearly tipped over backwards!
  • Put heavy stuff up high and again as close to your body as possible. It sounds a bit weird, but the heavy stuff should go high up – unless you know you will be rock climbing. The higher up it goes, the more centered you can get it over your hips. Look at the natives in African countries – they carry large, heavy baskets on their heads. This puts the weight straight down on their spine, allowing them to keep their back straight and the load balanced. Others carry two large buckets on a pole across their shoulders – again, the weight is forward and mostly over their spine and hence their hips.
  • Balance the pack. I always seem to struggle getting the weight well balanced. If you put the tent in one side, separate the poles and put them on the other side. If you can’t find something to balance out the weight of the tent, put the tent roll and poles across the top of the pack after everything else is inside. Balance is ultra important. Nothing is worse than having a lopsided pack.
  • Utilize space. It is amazing at how much stuff you can get in a pack if you use your head. If you have a pot or container that will be used for cooking, fill it with something before you stuff it in. This is just plain common sense.
  • Leave clothing and other deformable items until last. They can be stuffed into space left in the pack after everything else is in.
  • Add items that you will need to get to periodically in outside pockets or clipped to your shoulder straps. Things like drinking cup, canteen, pepper spray, compass, map, etc. should be readily available so you don’t have to dig around in the pack if you are taking a 5 minute water break.
  • Put things that don’t get hurt by moisture (and are light weight) on the outside of the pack. I usually add my two sleeping pads (yes, I am getting old) to the top and very back of the pack. These are foam pads and if they get wet, oh well, I can wipe them off before throwing them into the tent.

Running After 40

When you are training for a longer race or you are just beginning a running program after 40, you need to build up your mileage slower than if you were younger. Many runners do a walk/run program. They will do this and then slower decrease the amount of time that they are walking until they are running the entire distance. This is a great way to keep from getting injured by doing too much too soon.

An important thing for runners is to listen to what their body is telling them. I feel that this is important for all runners (and is what has kept me out on the roads for over 30 years), but even more important as you get older. If you need an extra day to get over a long run or a speed workout – take it.

Doing a weight workout a couple of times a week is great to keep your muscles strong. Make sure that you are doing both upper and lower body work. Leg extensions are a great way to keep the muscles around your knees strong and pain free. Just use a light weight – your plan is not to bulk up, but to stay strong.

If you’ve been running for many years, be aware of the fact that you will probably be slower as you get older. I’ve come to terms with that fact – and I’m alright with it. I take great joy in knowing that I’m still out there running after all these years and many that I ran with when I was younger are not running at all. As I get older, I’m happy with my runs and how it makes me feel younger than I am. Speed doesn’t matter to me at all.

Make sure that you are staying hydrated. As we get older, we sometimes don’t feel thirsty as we used to. So, be aware of this and make sure that you follow the urine test – it should be clear or pale yellow.

A Technical Ice Tool

For this reason it is important you have a good tool which grips onto the slippery surface of the ice for you. In this article I will discuss 3 things you should know about an ice tool for technical climbing:

  • The Shaft of technical tools are shorter and normally have a slight curve. This helps with the grip and makes the axe stick into the ice better. The length of most technical ice tools is around 50cm and they are made with a light but strong alloy or carbon material. The strength rating of a technical ice axes shaft should be T rated.
  • Hammer/Adze: The head of a technical ice climbing tool is made up of a hammer or adze at the back and a pick at the front. When climbing ice it is beneficial to have both types of tool. The hammer can be used to hit pitons into the ice and the Adze can be used for cutting steps into the ice.
  • The Pick of a technical tool comes in a different range of styles. Reverse positive picks are recommended for climbing ice because of their ability to hook into it easier. With this type of pick you can make the axe stick with the flick of a wrist. This is useful for when you need to be close to the climbing surface on a vertical climb.

Climbing Mt Pulag

Once you get to the rangers station you’ll just be given a short seminar and after paying some fees you’re good to go.

The climb itself isn’t overly difficult if you properly pace yourself. It can be hard to breath in the beginning because of the altitude but as long as you don’t push yourself too hard, you should be able to adjust.

For fast climbers, the trek to the camping area will only take around 3 hours. The trail to the camp will take you through 3 area, the pine forest, the mossy forest, and the grass lands.

You should have been assigned guides when after the seminar at the rangers station so be sure to follow their advice and let them know if you’re having any problems. The guides are locals and they can make the trek several times a day. They cover the distance in about half the time most other people do.

You’ll also get the option to hire porters if you feel that you’re not up to carrying your gear up the mountain. Believe me when I say that having no bag to carry makes the climb substantially easier. So if you didn’t train for the climb, it might be best to just leave your stuff.

The Camping Area

The camping area at Mt Pulag is at the grassy area of the trail. It’s actually at the end of the mossy forest, just a couple of meters away from the drinkable spring water.

The camp is almost always full because the mountain is such a popular climb. So try to look for a place where you and your group can set up camp that isn’t too far from the improvised comfort rooms that they have up there. If you can find one, look for a clearing that’s shielded from the wind by a hill.

The wind is really cold up there and you’re going to feel it even if you’re wearing layered clothing. A wind-breaker is really important there. You can also use trash bags as wind breakers if you weren’t able to bring one.

The Assault

Most people who go to Mt Pulag sleep overnight at the camp. Then they trek the last stretch for 2 hours really early so they can be at the summit just in time for sunrise.

This part is probably the easiest because the ground is easy to walk on. The place is hilly but there are no overly steep parts except at the end.

And that ends the climb. Once you get to the top, just wait for the sun to rise and be sure to bring a camera. You’re going to want to take lots of pictures.

Run Slower, Gain Speed

5k and 10k specific training

Aerobic System? What is it?

Aerobic training is the scientific fact that to move your body at higher intensities, the body needs to break down sugar and convert it to glycogen so it can be used as energy.

The aerobic system plus oxygen starts a chemical reaction known as Aerobic Glycolysis which continuously powers continuous endurance activities. In the aerobic system energy ATP is produced through Pyruvic Acid and Lipid/Protein fragments entering the Kreb Cycle and the Electron Transport Cycle.

Uh… what?

During aerobic respiration (yeah, that’s breathing) the body uses all the oxygen it needs to power the muscles. When you are running in your “aerobic zones” (easy runs), your muscles have enough oxygen to produce all the energy they need to perform.

See? Improving your capacity to transport and efficiently use all the available oxygen to produce energy will enable you to race faster since this makes up 85-99% of the energy needed to race.

Since running easy is aerobic development, what better way is there to train the aerobic system? There is none.

What goes on in the body during aerobic development?

Capillary development – capillaries are the smallest of the body’s blood vessels and they help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissues while exporting waste products out. The larger the number of capillaries you have surrounding each muscle fiber, the faster you can transport oxygen and carbohydrates to your muscles.

Aerobic training (easy running) increases the number of capillaries per muscle fiber, thus improving how efficiently you can deliver oxygen and fuel to your working muscles and how quickly they can clear waste products.

Myoglobin Increase

Myoglobin is a protein in the muscles that binds the oxygen that enters the muscle fiber. When oxygen becomes limited during intense exercise, myoglobin releases oxygen to the mitochondria to produce more energy.

The more myoglobin you have in the fibers of your muscles, the more oxygen is transported under aerobic stress. Like, uh, during a race. Aerobic training increases the amount of myoglobin you have in your muscle fibers.

Mitochondria creation

Mitochondria are microscopic organelle found in your muscles cells that contribute to the production of ATP (energy). In the presence of oxygen, mitochondria breakdown carbohydrate, fat, and protein into usable energy.

Therefore, the more mitochondria you have, and the greater their density, the more energy you can generate during exercise, which will enable you to run faster and longer.

Aerobic training increases both the number and the size of the mitochondria in your muscle fibers.

Suffice it to say that aerobic development is the single most important factor to long-term development.

Of course, track workouts, VO2 max sessions, tempo runs and cross training will increase your fitness and are still incredibly important to racing faster. However, nothing will help improve continuously like developing the aerobic system.

Aerobic development is dependent upon running in your aerobic zones (for my runners Zones 1-3). This is why running faster on your easy days develop the aerobic system. Once you step out of those aerobic zones, on easy runs you diminish development of your aerobic system, but you also increase the chance for injury. Nope, two negatives do not make a positive in running.

This is one of the single biggest mistakes runners of all experiences make in their training.

As a coach and trainer I have always distinguished myself because I am always able to give my clients and readers the “why”. (Sometimes my clients end up telling me to just shut my mouth. when I am training with them because I am continuously telling them why they are doing each movement of an exercise or workout. I guess it may not be an advantage all the time. Go figure.)

Optimal Aerobic Development

Scientific research has been able to identify how the aerobic system adapts and responds to certain training paces. Physiologically we know:

Capillary development appears to peak at between 60 and 75 percent of 5k pace.

Maximum stimulation of myoglobin in Type I muscle fiber (Endurance Muscles) occurs at about 63-77 percent of VO2max. 63-77 percent of VO2max is about 55-75 percent of 5k pace.

Two researchers, Holloszy (1967) and Dudley (1982) published some of the defining research on optimal distance and pace for mitochondrial development. In short, Holloszy found that maximum mitochondrial development when running at 50-75 percent of V02 max. Likewise, Dudley found that the best strategy for slow-twitch, mitochondria enhancement was running for 90 minutes per outing at 70 to 75 per cent V02 max.

Optimal Easy Run Pace

It is pretty clear now right? Your optimal easy run pace for aerobic development is between 55 and 75 percent of your 5k pace, with the average pace being about 65 percent.

It’s also evident that running faster than 75% of your 5k pace on your long run has very little additional physiological benefit.

In fact, the research indicates that it would be just as advantageous to run slower as it would be to run faster. Running around half of your 5k pace is pretty easy right? Wouldn’t you know it, the evidence is clear that it still provides near optimal aerobic development.

Feel free to let me hear your feedback. I welcome any other case studies, personal experiences and other research as I am always learning. I provide you with the best content I can, but I have an open-mind and know that there may be other research out there that may negate information I post.

Warm-Up Stretches

Calf Stretch

Aims to stretch the lower leg muscles for better running performance. Start in an upright position. Place one bent leg forward and place the other leg straight backwards. Hold this position and count from 1-10. Repeat this pattern and alternate your feet.

Quadriceps Stretch

The quadriceps stretch works the front thigh muscles. To do it, stand upright and hold your left foot with your left hand, bring it backwards, with the sole of your foot touching your buttocks. Use your free hand for balance. Hold this position for 10 counts and repeat with the other leg.

Hip flexor Stretch

To do a hip flexor stretch, stand with feet apart and place one leg in front of your body. Bend the front leg so your thigh is parallel to the ground. Your other leg should be slightly bent and almost touching the ground. Tilt your pelvis backwards and push your hips forward. Hold the position for 10 counts and repeat on the other leg.

Hamstring Stretch

Stand upright with legs about a shoulder’s width apart. Bend your hips and try to reach the ground with your hands without bending your knees. Hold this position for 10 counts and repeat.

Hip and Lower Back Stretch

Sit with your legs outstretched. Raise your right leg and cross is with your left leg by bending your right knee. While holding your legs’ position, twist your upper body opposite your bent leg’s direction, in this case to the right. Feel your hip and lower back stretch. Hold this position for 10 counts and repeat the process on the other leg.

Rock Climbing During Pregnancy

  • Climb top rope only– You don’t want to risk taking falls at lead. The stress on your body is minimal and most of it is only in the butt.
  • Stop if something hurts- A good general rule of pregnancy is to stop any activity if you feel pain. Then ask your doctor about it before you continue.
  • Full body harness- A full body harness is recommended as it will give you the most support and will be the most comfortable. If the harness starts to dig into your sides or become uncomfortable, then it’s a good time to quit.
  • Relaxin will loosen you up- Keep in mind that the hormone relaxin will cause your tendons and ligaments to loosen and prepare for delivery. The closer you get to your due date, the more susceptible you may be to injury. In subsequent pregnancies, you may feel this looseness earlier in the pregnancy.
  • Balance and strength are affected- In pregnancy, your balance will be affected and your center of gravity will shift. Your strength can also be affected while pregnant so keep this in mind while climbing. You may need to make adjustments.
  • Never climb alone- While it is recommended that you never climb alone anyway, this is especially true when you are pregnant. If you did fall or run into some type of trouble, there would be no one else around to help you.

Alison Osius, an editor at Climbing magazine climbed into the eight month of each of her pregnancies. She had two, healthy 8-pound babies. While every pregnancy is different, there is a good chance that you will still be comfortable climbing in yours.

You should consider using an indoor climbing gym that is climate controlled, especially if you live in extreme temperatures and also as you get farther along because there will be a bathroom nearby. When the baby and your growing uterus start pressing on your bladder, combined with the harness and ropes, you will probably find you need to urinate more often. A gym also provides a more controlled environment in case something does go wrong. There will be help and a phone nearby.

Rock climbing during pregnancy with your doctor’s OK can be a great way to stay in shape, release stress and enjoy some time doing something you love while you await your new bundle of joy.

Ways to Improve Climbing Performance

A better climbing buddy

Having a good rock climber with good climbing technique as a partner has many advantages. By simply watching them climb a wall, you can find out a great deal: watch the way they use footwork, watch when and where they takes rest breaks and attempt to replicate their technique. Also request your buddy watch you climb and analyse your technique. This is certainly a beneficial exercise as you may not appreciate a number of the things you are doing wrong, nor where you can develop. I generally prefer to have a climbing partner who has better climbing technique than me, it forces me to improve and produces a higher performance level from me.

Strengthen your grip

Despite the fact that improving upon rock climbing techniques is essential to bettering your performance, you’ll find that you also must have good strength and grip. There are a selection of techniques to strengthen your grip and fingers. Two products I favor are the power ball that concentrates on your lower arm and wrist muscles which consequently enhances your grip and the gripmaster that focuses on your fingers.

Lose weight

Whilst rock climbing, we are fighting against gravity. The heavier we are, the more difficult it will be to climb up the wall. It may sound totally obvious, but shedding some surplus weight will make a significant difference to your ability. Be aware, if you are pretty trim already, it is considerably more beneficial to focus on bettering your rock climbing techniques than losing a few more pounds in weight.

Take time to warm up

It’s going to take a longer time for your hands and feet to warm up than your arms and legs. Without warming up properly, you risk getting the dreaded pump quickly which no climbing techniques can reverse – your session is effectively finished. Instead, ease your muscles in by beginning on extremely simple routes or problems. Also, you should rest in between routes, and devote 30-45 minutes on warming up prior to you attempting harder routes. This can be annoying, however, it does work!