Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Day 16 - running up that hill

Type - Gradient / hill run

Distance - 4 miles

Time - 37 minutes 10 seconds

It was back to the gym for a gradient run this evening. I last did a gradient run on Day 5, a little under two weeks ago. Then I did half an hour of a programme of steadily increasing gradients at setting number 9. Today I decided to increase the intensity, going for level 10. A while ago I had done a run on level 10 of the hill climb programme, and I knew the step up from level 9 was quite intense. The speed is increased by about 1km/h, ranging between 8.5 and 11.5 km/h, and the gradient peaks at 8 degrees. Two thirds of the running is done at 4 degrees or steeper, and the peak of the run is a slog.

The advantage of this varied intensity running is in working different sets of muscles. The upper calves take much of the intensity from running at an angle, and there seems to be a lot less pressure on the thighs. By the middle of the programme, at the steeper gradients, it is a tough run but not in the same way as a steady or tempo run - there is not the same demand for oxygen or build up of lactic acid. Instead there is a more rounded work out of the whole leg as the programme moves from higher speeds at lower gradients to slower, steeper speeds.

I finished the hill programme, and carried on running at a comfortable 12 km/h before finishing with a two minute sprint at 16 km/h. The result of the high intensity and speed of the programme and the faster post-programme run was to complete the four minute target in just over 37 minutes, taking over 4 minutes from the previous time. The difference between the two runs, only 11 days apart, was palpable, and a real indicator of the progress that has been made in such a short period.

It was tiring, but manageable, and I think the next time I hit the gym I might give level 11 a try. Given the machine only goes up to level 12 I expect that this is going to be a tough run.

I bought a copy of Runners' World today, the leading magazine in, unsurprisingly, the world of running. I'm hooked. I am not sure whether it is particularly well written or just concerned with a subject for which I have beginner's enthusiasm, but it has a lot of tips and guides, especially for beginners. I think this marks the final stages of my addiction, one which will become complete with the purchase of lycra running shorts. Oh yes.

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