Workout Wednesday: Hills, and Keeping it Simple.
Today I take some time to preach into the void about simplicity, and talk a little about hills and why I like them so much.
This is going to feel a little bit like one of those recipe blogs, where you just want to read a recipe and its ingredients list, but you have to scroll through what feels like 27 pages of text to get to the recipe. I'm going to blab for just a bit before getting into the workout, if you don't want to read me blab, than go ahead and start scrolling.
I'm going to talk about simplicity, and how beautiful and important it can be when thinking about your training. First, I'm going to spoil something here: there is no secret sauce when it comes to training. There is no "perfect method" to get into shape, no one-size fits all program that works for everybody, and that's a beautiful thing. A training plan is an amalgamation of workouts that fit together to get you into shape. The great thing about that is that there is no one way to put together that puzzle. You can approach that puzzle from a dozen different perspectives, create the same picture, but assemble that picture in a variety of different ways.
I illustrate this because sometimes training and coaching are approached very rigidly. You have to do THIS to get THAT and run THIS. No arguments, no questions allowed. This is how it's done. It doesn't have to be like that. Training is such a fluid thing, that you don't HAVE to do workout A, B, or C to prove you're in shape to run XX:XX. Every workout doesn't have to be structured and rigid, workouts can change, and you can still reap the benefits.
Obviously there's a limit to this, and you have to have some structure and direction to be able to progress to where you want to go. But if you understand what you're trying to do, and how you plan to get there, than you can do so in a fluid, efficient way. Enjoy what you're doing, and how you're doing it. So where does simplicity fall into this already too long rant?
Don't overthink things. Don't do over-complicated, over-analyzed, convoluted workouts if you don't have to. Keep it simple. Run some threshold work, a little rep work, sprinkle in some interval sessions, and mix it with plenty of easy running, and viola! You got yourself into shape.
In my interview with Jack Daniels last week (if you didn't read it, it's a must read, click HERE) he stressed the importance of understanding the purpose of every workout. When we keep things a little simpler, and over-think things less, than it's easier to understand why you're doing a specific workout. I think when you have a good grasp of why you're doing something, it becomes approachable and more fun to do said thing.
I am as guilty as anyone of overthinking it and getting too fancy with my sessions (both as an athlete and a coach), but it's something that I'm working to rectify and get better at. In my time as an athlete and coach, I've found much more joy in doing simpler things for reasons that I fully understand, than the opposite. Anyways, enough of my words, time for the workout.
HILLS! Anywhere, everywhere. In honor of my "keeping it simple" theme this week, I'm professing my love for one of the most maligned, but simplest, staples of any training block. So run short hills (10-15 seconds FAST), medium hills (30 seconds to 1 minute), or longer hills (up to 3 minutes), or even just throw in a hilly run now and then.
Hills are one of the best ways to train hard without the wear and tear that can come with higher intensity flat land running. Short hills help make you more explosive, and act almost like power lifting, activating those fast-twitch muscle fibers. Medium hills are like rep work, they also build power along with neuro-muscular efficiency. Long Hills are a lower impact way to run a lot of volume at VO2 max. Hilly runs help you learn how to run up and over hills, how to recover coming off a hill, and make you better at recovering from getting your rhythm broken.
Things to Keep in Mind
Like with rep work and other faster work, it's important to think about your form and make sure you're running efficiently, don't let yourself get sloppy. Also be careful running downhill, as that's where you're going to be feeling the impact, make sure to run smooth and controlled.
You can throw in a good hill session anytime during a training block; but I really like to run hills early on. I think it's beneficial early on in a cycle to just run hard and not worry about pace. Running hills allows you to focus on effort. You almost always feel accomplished after a good hill session, which makes it a particularly good candidate if you've maybe been struggling a little bit on other types of workouts.
Well I hope that I didn't bore you to death or scare you away with all my rambling today. I would really love to hear what you have to think on any of the topics that I broached today, so feel free to comment below or reach out to my email. Always happy to further the conversation!
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