Here’s how to get mountain-running legs (even if you live in the flats)

Those of us who live in prairie provinces are familiar with the dilemma when trying to fit any form of mountain training into our schedule. A hill climb sounds great (and the vert is definitely real), but how do you get your legs in shape to tackle steep climbs and descents? Here are three ways to achieve the fitness that will take you to the peaks with ease, even if you live hours away from hilly terrain.

Make friends with stairs

Stairs can be an incredibly effective tool for runners, even if you don’t have mountains in your plans. Pushing off each stair is a form of explosive or plyometric training. This builds strength and power and increases the ability of your muscles and joints to respond to the landing. A series of grandstands can be a veritable playground for a runner, with a variety of workouts that can be performed. Try this ladder stair workout to get started.

Pyramid Stair Training

Warm up: 10 to 15 minutes of easy walking on level ground

Work out: Run up and down stairs or bleachers for two minutes, rest for 30 to 60 seconds

Run up and down stairs or bleachers for three minutes, resting for 30 to 60 seconds

Run up and down stairs or bleachers for four minutes, rest for 30 to 60 seconds

Run up and down stairs or bleachers for three minutes, resting for 30 to 60 seconds

Run up and down stairs or bleachers for two minutes, rest for 30 to 60 seconds

Read  It's chemistry, not magic: Dan Gill explains how to make your pink hydrangeas turn blue (or vice versa) | Home/Garden

cooling down: 10 to 15 minutes of easy walking on level ground

Woman runs stairs
Photo: Unsplash/Ev

Build functional strength

Functional strength training will help your legs propel you up the climbs and help you maintain efficient form even when you’re feeling tired. Bodyweight exercises are perfect for building mountain legs — you don’t need a gym membership or access to fancy equipment. This 3-minute routine from trainer and author David Roche gets you ready to tackle the climbs and descents of a hilly race.

“The burn should feel similar to the screeching quads of steep climbs,” says Roche. He suggests incorporating it into your routine twice a week on hard training days (speedwork or after a long run) so you get the maximum recovery benefits the day after. Note that even though you only add three minutes of leg strengthening to your routine, if you don’t normally do exercises like these, you’ll probably be pretty sore after the first few times.

trail and mountain running
Photo: Unsplash/Hunter Bryant

Hug the treadmill

Incline training on the treadmill can be a fantastic way to build climbing strength and confidence. You can mimic hill sprints or longer, gentle hill runs on a treadmill with just the push of a button. Try this hill repeat workout to get started.

Treadmill hill repeats

This workout mimics a traditional workout with shorter hill repetitions. If you’re new to hill reps, start your incline at 4 to 5 percent, but more experienced runners can increase the incline to 6 to 8 percent.

Warm up: 10 to 15 minutes of easy walking

Work out: Six x 60 to 90 seconds at a pace of 5km to 10km with three minutes of rest in between (light jog). If you choose the shorter sprints, aim for the 5k pace and try to hit your 10k pace when you do the longer sprints.

Read  How to make maple pork and basil dumplings at home

Cooling down: 10 minutes easy jog

Person running on treadmill
Photo: Unsplash/Itenza Fitness

Remember to follow a hill session with a light jog or rest day.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *