I am a rank novice and i've been using the fantastic MiCoach app for running for nearly 3 weeks, gradually building my distance, average pace and calories burned aiming to race my first 10K in June.
I've been consistently runnnig 4 times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat) and the MiCoach app is gradually increasing the distance/time on a saturday it seems (although i am actually running longer than the app suggests due to the geography of my circuit)
I am now able to run for a little over 20 minutes without stopping (it was less than 5 minutes on my first run using MiCoach nearly 3 weeks ago) so i can feel the improvement, but i have the fllowing question:
I live on top of a hill and my usual 2.27 mile circuit involves a 171ft climb on the home stretch (but clearly a 171ft drop on the outleg) This makes my pace slower than it probably is but i am told hill running helps with conditioning and stamina?
In your opinions am i better to stick to the relatively short distance of 2.27 miles and aim at getting faster over that distance with the climb, or am i better going longer on flatter circuits (by driving a little distance from home to find a nice circuit).
OR Should i mix it up, maybe do the hill runs in the week and a longer, flatter run at the weekend when i have more time?
Any advice would be most appreciated.
Thanks for your post and questions. Your progress is fantastic, congratulations! Going from less than 5 minutes of straight running to 20 minutes over 3 weeks shows your hard work and dedication and we're glad that miCoach is coaching you through it all.
Regarding hills versus flats, I can offer up some suggestions for you. Since I'm reading that you are aiming for a 10k in June, my first question is do you have a particular race in mind and if so, what is the course profile? How much elevation gain does the course have? Does it have some strong hill climbs or several little rollers, or is it relatively flat? Is it a trail run or on streets/asphalt paths? With this info in mind, then one suggestion would be to tailor your training around it, so that you are preparing for the same conditions as the race. So if this course has a relatively good set of climbs, then incorporating some hills into your training would be advantageous.
As you pose in your question, I find it best to take the 3rd option, which is to mix in hill runs and not go heavy on the hills on every training day. Theoretically, your 10k plan is offering up at least one day that is mainly in the blue or the green zone - a day that is not focusing on intervals. This is probably your Saturday longer run, of which you write above. On this day, I normally would run a pretty flat course that allows you to focus on your pace, rhythm, gate and getting into the flow.
In general you are right that running hills will help your conditioning. Particularly, doing short to medium hill climb bursts will increase your lactate threshold. The fact that the hill you speak of is at the end of your run is not the most ideal though, as it is very beneficial to have a solid warm-down at the end.
In addition, if you've performed the Assessment Workout in order to create your zones, then the plan that you are using is customized with certain zone intervals. Sticking to these zones will assist in gradually progressing you to your 10k goals. Consequently, it would be beneficial if you are able to incorporate hills where your lower pace zones are. That way you are able to tackle the hill section at a more comfortable pace. The key is to not overdo it since you are just 4 weeks in and you are making good, steady progress!
So in conclusion, I would throw hills into the mix once or twice a week while remembering to stay in your planned zones. As a new runner a big key is to always listen to your body so as to be proactive in preventing injuries, burnout, etc. I hope this helps you out and feel free to ask further questions based on this. Good job and Keep it Up!
Firstly, Wow! Thank you both for taking the time to give such a detailed response.
I've been taking note of the intervals during my normal circuit and generally doing pretty well at keeping up with the faster zones because they tend to fall on the flat or slight downhill sections, but sometimes on the uphill (generally score 80% ish)
I've just broke 9min/mile for the 2.27 mile 171ft climb circuit. I also did just over 5k (relatively flat) at the weekend at 8min40sec average which I was very pleased with.
BUT, I've started to get a niggle in my knees, so both your suggestions not to do too much too fast might be the key.
It's very minor pain, and only there when warming up and after I stop. I can feel it during running but I wouldn't describe it as 'pain', but still perhaps I'm just pushing a touch too much for my fitness level, or lack of it ;)
On your advice I'm going to switch to flatter runs for the durations asked or by Micoach for a week (4 or 5 runs) and see how I feel.
Thanks again for your advice, most appreciated and very motivating!
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