FLRC workouts for the week of August 31st

Sorry for the late posting—too much going on today. We’re heading back to the hills this week.

Middle Distance Workouts (5K to 15K)

  • Workout 1: Find a fairly steep hill—road or trail—that takes you roughly 2 minutes to climb at a hard pace (think I pace effort—the actual speed will be much slower, of course). Run up it hard, then back down easy, and repeat 5–10 times, depending on your weekly mileage. While running uphill, focus on form, and be sure to keep your back straight so you’re leaning into the hill from your ankles, not piking at the waist. My favorite place to do this workout is in the bowl of Cornell’s Arboretum, where you can run up the road on one side, back down, and then up and down each of the paths going up the bowl until you get to the road on the other side. Then go back for as many reps as you need. If the hills are shorter than 2 minutes (sometimes it’s hard to find the right hills), do more of them to get roughly the same 10–20 minutes of speedwork.

  • Workout 2: 3 miles at T pace, but here’s the twist. After you’ve run 3 minutes at T pace, speed up to I pace for the next 1 minute, before dropping back to T pace. Repeat until you’re done with the full 3 miles. I expect this workout is going to be tough, so don’t start too fast!

  • Long Run: 25-30% of your weekly mileage at E pace

Long Distance Workouts (Half Marathon to Marathon)

  • Workout 1: Look for a long uphill that takes you at least 5–10 minutes to reach the top. It shouldn’t be super steep because you’re going to need to run down it as well, and steep downhill running requires practice when you’re fresh. Do as many reps as necessary to hit 50 minutes of uphill running. You’re aiming for M pace effort, which will obviously be a lot slower than M pace on the flat. Start out at what feels like your long run pace and then gradually pick up the pace until it’s uncomfortable but doable until you hit the top.

  • Long Run: 25-30% of your weekly mileage at E pace


I’ve not had the mental energy to do workouts lately, but hills seem to come a little easier than speedwork. I ran up Connecticut hill road to avoid the crowds - ended up doing only 40 mins because my legs felt like toast and the dog wanted to lay in the shade. About 1260 ft of elevation gain. Followed the workout with a chilly swim with @lizhartman (: hoping the fall weather will get me running faster!

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Also @adamengst great to see on Strava that you’re starting to run again! Exciting!

Thanks! It’s slow going, but I feel like I’m actually running for real at times. Now to work my way out of the run/walk combination into straight running.


Apologize for longer post in advance, but there is lots here. First, I will echo @gplwoo that I find the hill workouts easier mentally than speedwork. Having said that, though, I think that is because I haven’t been doing these workouts quite right. That is, I have been running them more like “M” pace effort up, and “E” (at best) on the way down. So I decided to track my efforts up and down today just to see. It was already going to be a shorter than specified effort because a) I ran a 1/2 marathon at close to “M” pace on Sunday as a final check before signing up to do a virtual NYC marathon on 1 Nov; b) I had a slow start (darn contacts) so was 20 minutes late getting out of the door; and c) I still work so a 2 hour workout (10 min w/u, 50 min up, 50 min down, 10 min c/d) isn’t practical.
I ended up running for 70 minutes total, up and down various parts of Snyder Hill, particularly the Eastern Heights neighborhood. I had noticed a nice grassy slope that had potential for repeats, but it was too short and steep for this type of effort - filed it away for future hill repeat efforts. But there were other climbs - Honess/East Hill Recway, Park Lane -> Eastern Heights Park via a variety of side streets - that worked quite well. Looking at the laps I recorded (Follow Bob on Strava to see this activity. Join for free.), the uphills went okay:

Lap Distance Time Pace GAP HR
2 0.73 mi 8:31 11:34 /mi 9:11 /mi 136 bpm
4 0.31 mi 3:36 11:27 /mi 8:27 /mi 145 bpm
6 0.12 mi 1:46 14:44 /mi 9:06 /mi 138 bpm
8 0.65 mi 8:06 12:26 /mi 9:08 /mi 143 bpm
10 0.65 mi 6:35 10:08 /mi 8:23 /mi 151 bpm

Total: 2.46 miles in 28:34 at relatively consistent effort (based on HR and GAP)

But the downhills were suspect

Lap Distance Time Pace GAP HR
3 0.47 mi 4:29 9:30 /mi 9:45 /mi 129 bpm
5 0.21 mi 2:16 10:29 /mi 10:38 /mi 131 bpm
7 0.67 mi 6:26 9:29 /mi 10:29 /mi 119 bpm
9 0.80 mi 7:24 9:15 /mi 10:14 /mi 125 bpm
11 1.10 mi 9:01 8:11 /mi 8:42 /mi 145 bpm

Total: 3.25 miles in 29:36, relatively consistent HRM for most - but, knowing the last effort included some flat (I was pushing to get home)

Notice that the raw downhill paces for the first 3 laps are (well) below target “M” pace (9:26) - and only when I focused did I exceed it as I would expect going down hill. That is, given my “M” pace, let’s say I found a hill that I could run up at 11:00/mile pace…about 1:30 slower than flat …would the same effort down produce an 8:15 pace? For a 50 mins of hill climb, that would be 37.5 minutes down (50 min/(11 min/mile) X (33 mins/4 miles)…hence the 11 and 8:15 pace choices)…but is that reasonable? Inquiring minds want to know…

Hmm, good question, and I don’t know the answer. My sense is that it’s really hard to compare uphill and downhill paces and efforts. I know that’s what Strava’s grade-adjusted pace tries to do, but I don’t have a sense of how successful it is.

To be honest, I’m not too concerned about what you’re doing on the downhills in this workout. For the shorter, steeper hills in the middle distance workout, I’m encouraging people to take it easy because it’s hard to maintain good form while running downhill. (Worth working on, but in more of a cross-country context.) If your hills were less steep, it would be fine to come down them at that M pace as long as you’re not losing form or pounding too hard.

Let’s see if @JTuori or @esambo have any other advice about how to run downhills from their years of coaching.

Yeah, I love the grade adjusted pace on Strava. It’s not perfect but it’s helpful. On downhills, I wouldn’t worry about the pace being too fast as long as you actually feel recovered before the next rep. It’s nice that you have the HR data as a guide to help monitor this. I think averaging around 120bpm on the downs tells you that you have recovered.

Depending on how good you are at downs, sometimes your legs recover better by running them faster rather than trying to jog slowly but fight gravity. I have worked on downs quite a bit in the last year and found that staying off my heels, making sure my knees are bent and actually leaning into the the next stride (depending on how steep it is) really helps reduce pounding.

Another alternative for a workout like this is to find a long uphill grade like Mt. Pleasant and run an uphill rep hard to a cross road or trail like the rail trail or Turkey Hill rd and then jog on the flat before continuing uphill for the next rep. I’ve done this after driving my bike up the hill and stashing it at the top so I could just cruise down on bike after the workout instead of having to run all the way back down.

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This is a really good point, and exactly why I commented that it was worth working on form while running downhills. It’s really hard to convince yourself not to lean back and heel strike hard while going downhill, and often the best approach for reducing impact is actually to speed up so you can have lighter, faster, midfoot strikes that are more under your center of gravity.