Training for a trail run that has almost 7,000 feet of climbing up a mountain can be tough, especially when you live somewhere that is pretty flat (Florida). The largest hills around the area aren’t really that large when comparing to running up a trail on a mountain. The 50k ultra I’m training for (Conquer the Rock 50k) has about 6,890 feet of climbing up Pinnacle Mountain. The climb to the top of the mountain is about 700 meters (about 2,297 feet), but you do it 3 times!
Since I’m not used to training on a consistent incline of elevation, I decided to renew my subscription with the local YMCA so I can use the treadmills to help with elevation training. After figuring out how to use the treadmills to find out the total elevation I was actual doing (see this article for the treadmill elevation tool I created), I decided the first thing I need to do is to start getting my body trained for running uphill consistently.
To start off, I did a little research on the actual route and found that it’s about 700 meters up the mountain, so one of my main training routines is to condition my body to run up that distance. Using the treadmill elevation tool I made, I found out what incline setting and pace I needed to choose on the treadmill so I could simulate the climb up the mountain. The daily training runs would basically simulate one trip up the mountain.
I’m not really focused on a specific pace, but really just trying to get my body used to running up the elevation of the mountain. I started off with a 15 minute pace just so I can start making my way up the mountain. The first few days included more hiking with faster steps, but by day 3 I found myself getting more comfortable and running more. By the 4th day, I was running up the mountain the majority of the way. I would start off with a 1/4 mile fast walk, then run the next 3/4 mile and then continue this pattern for 5 miles of incline. At the end of the 4th day run and more of the 5th day run, I started increasing the pace (14 and 13 minute paces) in small segments of the incline and kept my heart rate between 160-170. Based on my setting on the treadmill, this would result in 2,508 feet of elevation (764 meters) and would take about 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete. After 5 days of elevation training, I ended up finishing with 12,804 feet of elevation climbed.
After the first 5 days of elevation training on the treadmill, I decided to take the next few days off to recover, then the next week will include a combination of elevation training on the treadmill and some longer distance on the road. My goal is to slowly build up my elevation running so I can steadily run up the mountain. The hardest thing for me to train for will be to find training for the challenging downhill of a mountain. I do live close to one spot that might be good for a few incline/decline training sessions (Scenic Highway Bluffs in Pensacola), but it will require a whole lot of repeats as I think the trail (and the boardwalk option of stairs) is only about 50-60 feet high.