To answer the question – I have no idea!
When I learned last week that I was chosen from the lottery to run the Mount Washington Road Race in June, my first thought was – Holy Sh!t!!! And my second thought was – how do I train for this?
Obviously, hills, hills, hills and then some more marvelous hills. But since I don’t have the luxury of having a hill that is 7.6 miles long to do training runs on regularly, what are my options? After asking friends who have run it in previous years and searching for training tips online, here’s what my plan for the next 11 weeks is going to involve.
I don’t absolutely hate the treadmill but I don’t love it either. With the really nice spring weather here and more coming, I was looking forward to running outside all the time. But according to friends (like Jen who will be running it again this year!), the treadmill is your best bet to mimic the continuous uphill training you need. With a gain of 4,727 feet in elevation (average elevation of 12% and the last portion at the summit 22%), doing short hill repeats will do nothing for you. You want specificity with training and the treadmill is my best bet.
Last week I did 2 x 1600 @6%/7% at easy pace as part of my 6 mile run. It kicked my butt. It definitely was eye opening that I need to not only work on total leg strength but my back as well.
I’m fortunate to live within a 45 minute drive or less of some trails with upness. Since I’m not the most sure-footed person, I don’t want anything super technical but I need the elevation. According to my friend Tony, there’s an awesome 1 mile stretch of road near Gunstock Mountain that leads to a trail that is an average 15.8% grade. Sounds like just the torturous fun I’m looking for! Mt. Aggie in Maine is another option.
Of course I won’t (or can’t) run hill specific workouts every single run. I’ll have easy paced runs mixed in. However, I’ll make it a point to not shy away from hillier routes. Like my friend Sarah says, #EmbraceTheHill. As someone who really isn’t a fan of hills, this should change my perspective, right?
Strength Training/PT Exercises/Core
Now is definitely NOT the time to slack on my strengthening exercises. A strong core is essential. And continue to condition my lower legs with eccentric calf raises and balance exercises.
Other tips that I have learned:
- Expect to finish around your half marathon time.
- You will walk. Lots. Get comfortable with a run/walk method.
- Practice walking backwards to give your back and the front of your legs a break. And you can take in the view!
- The temperature will change over the course of the race (average 30 degrees difference from base to summit). Tuck gloves in your shorts and over pack your bag at the summit. You will want ALL of the warm gear.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind and the dust during the gravel sections.
I’m nervous and excited all at the same time. This is going to hurt. A LOT. But it’s such a unique race that it’s going to be all worth it.
11 weeks to go!
Hills – love ’em or hate ’em?
What’s the highest incline you’ve ever run on the treadmill?