When we sign up for mountainous races with high elevation, but don’t have access to mountains or hills, living in flat areas, or being away and traveling in areas with no access to mountains or hills, there are still ways to find solutions to do some efficient elevation training. Especially living in Asia, when the racing season begins at the end of the summer, and so many people are away for summer holidays in countries or cities where there is no access to hills for some elevation training. First, we have to remember to train not only uphill but downhill as well. We need to also strengthen our quads as they will go through serious beating on the downhills.
Alternative uphill training:
Treadmill- An elevation training session on a treadmill consists of 3X10min climb at 10-15% grade. Make sure you alternate between power hike and running. In between do 5 mins on flat at a slower pace.
Short hill: Even if you have access to a 45m hill, use it to do some vertical training. You can train up to 1800m using such little elevation, just keep running up & down and focus on reaching your elevation goal, not distance or time.
Stairs: Finding indoor or outdoor stairwell can be used for elevation training. Many Ultra runners who don’t have access to mountains or hills, use indoor stairwells for training. Same idea as short hill training, keep going until you reach your target elevation goal, push on the uphill and use the downhill for recovery. Vary the uphill training by alternating between taking 2 steps up and one down for 1 way up and the next take 1 step up and 1 step down; Keep alternating as this will be great training for going up mountains with high steps.
Training the quadriceps for steep downhills can be done at the gym or at home once or twice/week using heavy strength training on legs. Using heavier dumbbells, perform squats, lunges, deadlifts and toe raises, but make sure you perform these exercises with proper form or you might get injured. For runners that are not familiar with dumbbell strength training, at the gym you can use the leg machine with slowly lowering the weight and exploding the machine weight on the up. Doing heavy strength training on the legs will have the same results as normal downhill training; creating micro-tears in the quads to increase the muscle strength.
Uphill and downhill training using these different versions can be a bit more boring than running up and down beautiful mountains, so make sure you find a way to stay motivation and push yourself; use music, podcasts or running mates to keep yourself going.
Go, Go, Go!- Up, Up, Up!
Train Hard, Eat Right, and Feel Great!