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Cycling: Hill Training
Posted: February 26, 2007
Hills can be tough, gang, as many of you already know (i.e., the Danskin course); but they need not feel insurmountable. If you find climbing a "challenge" (that's a polite
euphemism for what some of you might calll it :-) remember it well. For one day, you won't feel nearly so strongly in the negative. As your climbing improves, so will your opinion of hills. I guarantee it!
Just remind yourself OFTEN (as you struggle to a summit, nearing maximum HR :-) that hills are OPPORTUNITIES to see how tough, how fit, how determined you truly are.
There are three "P's" to remember when it comes to climbing:
1. Practice. Practice. Practice.
This IS "the specificity of training." To do something well, we have to do it often. Our
improvements are intimitaly tied to our practices. So to climb better, you
need to climb and climb and climb again.
2. Pacing. Pacing. Pacing
Unless a hill is super short (i.e., a "sprinter" hill--one that takes well less than a minute to get up, like the one at the Veloway proper), you've got to pace yourself up the climb. You should have plenty of heartbeats in the bank, especially at the base of the hill; you can cash them in as you climb. You should also be in an easy gear--you shouldn't have to struggle to turn the cranks. Shift to an easy gear. Then, if you've got the legs left for it, you can shift to a harder gear as you near the top of the hill.
3. Patience. Patience. Patience.
Remember it well, gals: WE ARE ALL HARD-WIRED THE SAME WAY. So everybody feels the sometimes unpleasant effects that come from fighting gravity. IT AIN'T JUST YOU suffering somtimes on a climb. That discomfort is
collective--just take a moment to listen and look at your fellow athletes and you'll see the truth in this. Be patient with yourself about improvement though; it'll come in time. Don't beat yourself up looking for improvement in
Listed below are a few other tips to help you climb better. For our workout this week, we'll climb four (beginners) or six (intermediate and advanced) hills, focusing on one or two factors each time. --RELAX your face, your hands, your shoulders and toes. --BREATHE. Focus on slowing down the exhale. Try to breathe hard, not fast. --CHANGE positions occasionally on long climbs to give some muscles a break. --STANDING is cardiovascularly more demanding muscularly more forgiving.
SITTING is muscularly more demanding and cardiovascularly more forgiving.
--When in doubt, SIT and SPIN about your ability to ascend. Energy
conservation is the name of the game!
--DESCEND WELL and you will work less as you ascend, especially on a series
of rollers. If you aren't afraid to descend at speed, your momentum will take
you a good way up the next climb.
First timers will climb four hills.
--For the first, focus on RELAXING and BREATHING. Relax your face, your shoulders, your hands, your grip.
--The second one, spin in an easy gear while seated all the way up and over the climb. Focus on sitting back, dropping your heels, and using your
powerful glutes to climb up.
--The third, sit for two-thirds of the hill, then shift up one to two cogs and stand for the rest. Keep your body weight centered over your pedals and let gravity assist you on the downstroke. Note a difference in your HR and/or your muscles when your seated versus when you are standing. Which feels
bettter for you? Why?
--For the last, by way of contrast, stand the entire time. As the top comes into view, work a little harder, either by shifting to a harder gear or by
pedaling faster. Think of going over the top, not just to the top. Then, focus all your effort on a quick recovery once your over the top. Get control
of your breathing. Slow the exhale and try to bring your heartrate down as
fast as possible.
Intermediates and Advanced Riders:
First Four are the Same
--For the fifth and six, progressively build on the climb. Work hard, harder and hardest. When you are 15 seconds from the top, attack the climb. PUSH yourself HARD up and over. RECOVER as swiftly as possible.