June 02, 2011

My Gebrselassie workout

As I am reading my way slowly through Matt Fitzgerald's Run: The Mind-Body Connection of Running by Feel, I've begun adapting my training program, both in terms of philosophy and with specific workouts mentioned in his book.

One of them I did today, and I plan repeating this session on a weekly basis: it's my version of Gebrselassie's favourite. Fitzgerald says in Run that when he asked Gebrselassie for his favourite, his response was"Hill training is my favourite," he said. "Because that's the one that gives you a lot of problems. Pain. Breathing too much. Struggling too much. Of course you don't enjoy it during training, but after training, after you reach the top and you look down, and say 'That is what I did,' it gives you confidence."

Fitzgerald writes that he later learned Gebrselassie's hill training meant 90 minutes hard straight up Entoto Mountain outside of Addis Ababa.

Barely a 10-minute easy warm-up jog from my front door is a dirt road called Nine Mile Hill. It goes up for about 11km, with only a few sections of respite, and is part of the Test of Metal (mountainbike) course as well as the STORMY (50-mile trail race).

So, I decided that in my preparations for the Bellingham Bay and Victoria marathons, Nine Mile Hill will be my Entoto Mountain (though it's not at altitude). I've run (and run-walked) it a good handful of times including as part of the 2010 STORMY, and love doing so.

You can climb a solid 500 metres over about 11km if you follow Nine Mile Hill all the way to the top of Lava Flow.

Views from Nine Mile Hill (in January)

The road gets icy in January - clear in June!

Great views from Nine Mile Hill (again, in January)

The start of Nine Mile Hill

I'll ease my way into Gebrselassie's favourite session, however. This morning, my four-footed running buddy Luka joined me and after a warm-up we started our steady climb in the steady rain. After 25 minutes of running uphill at a solid (though not hard) pace, both Luka and I thought it was enough for today so we turned around and eased the same way back down.

Total running time was 70 minutes.

Next Thursday I'll aim to add another 10 minutes to the climb, for a 35-minute session up Nine Mile Hill, before turning around.

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