Caroline Bailey

Coach's Corner by: Caroline Bailey, PhD

Head to the Hills!

Any runners’ program should include some hill workouts. Often called ‘speedwork in disguise’, regularly running hills will boost your leg strength, improve your running style (encouraging a higher knee lift and mid- to forefoot landing) and lactic acid tolerance. You cannot train the muscles recruited for running up and down hills, any other way than actually running hills, so unless you are planning to move to the Netherlands, you are more than likely to encounter some hills in any races. The cardinal rule of hill running on the road – run up on the hard surface but walk or jog slowly down (preferably on the grass verge). Generally, as middle-long distance runners, hills for reps should not be overly steep (save those for the sprinters), but one that you can run in about a minute. Start with 5-6 repeats (don’t worry too much about pace, just concentrate on form) and build up to 3 sets of 5 repeats (so 15 reps in total).

Local Hills that I love!
Caniaba Crescent, Suffolk Park (from the Redgum Place side). Google Maps link
Lighthouse Road (from Clarke’s carpark up towards Captain Cooks) Google Maps link
Old Bangalow Road (from Cemetry Road turn-off) Google Maps link
Paterson Street (either side). Google Maps link
Seven Mile Beach Road. Google Maps link

PS. If you love a run to the Lighthouse as your weekly hill workout and want to get off the road, run up either the stairs from the Pass & Wategos or go up the Captain Cook trail,  but always come down by the road – your knees and quadriceps will thank you for it! Running down steps causes problems with stride length, increasing landing impact and puts you at risk of knee and quadriceps injuries (as well as risk of falling in bushes – believe me, I’ve done it). Running downhill is less stressful on your legs than stairs, but should only used as a training technique when you want to improve either your leg speed, or practice your downhill technique for racing (running downhill will not get you fitter). … but that’s the subject of another coach’s corner!

About the author
Caroline Bailey is a level 2 Athletics Australia middle-long distance coach. She has a professional background in Psychology, with a doctorate in performance management. Now a mum of two, she returned to running after having children, and is finally beginning to accept that she is a running addict.