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Beating the Hills of Hell

Advice for you to tackle even the deepest and darkest hills in hell

Those that have run the Hills of Hell before will know the damning psychological after-effects, for those that haven’t, you’re in for a treat.

So whether you’re tried and tested or completely new to the HellRunner scene, these tips will definitely help.

Starting the climb

Now don’t rush in. You’re eager to go and get them over and done with, that’s fine, but you don’t want to burn all your resources halfway up hill one.

Yes there’s more than one, usually about four, but where we can squeeze more in we will!

Take a couple of deep breaths and start off at a pace you know can maintain for a good 20 minutes.

Just remember, this is tough terrain so tread carefully.

The climb

It’s a tough old game this, and preparation always helps. If you’re reading this at time of publishing, you still have time to train. Box jumps, squat jumps and traditional hill sessions will do the trick.

Your quads and calfs will be burning from lactic acid, so don’t forget to breathe. It sounds like relatively simple advice, but under intense exercise we can often forget to use our lungs. Steady and slow breathing, taking as much oxygen as you can.

Another tip for when climbing is to use other peoples help! It’s quite a social run after all, take the help when it’s given to you. 

Plateauing out

Short and sweet this one.

Once you’re at the top of any hill it’s crucial that you catch your breath. Running downhill is just as hard work as uphill in an event like this. Unless you’re gunning for a podium finish, this becomes more of a challenge then a race. Walk if you have to, conserve that precious energy! 

Downhill domination

A certain amount of courage is required, because while slowing down may seem like the natural thing to do, the pressure it places on your joints makes injury far more likely.

Another initially unnatural thing to do, but, leaning forward from the hips keeps your body in a position in which all the other technical aspects of downhill running are possible.

Just remember, this is a dangerous route look at each step and watch out for snagging branches!

Chooseday Tuesday!

It’s that time again folks! Chooseday Tuesday is here, vote below…

 

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Win a FREE race place & pair of Brooks trainers

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This weekend, we’ve teamed up Brooks to offer you a fantastic competition prize!! We’re giving you the chance to win a place into Hell in the Chilts, a pair of the latest Brooks Pure Grit 4 running shoes, and two exclusive VIP tickets into the Brooks hub after the event to enjoy an “an extra slice of heaven”. Here, Brooks will shower you and your friend in refreshments and the latest Brooks kit including a dirtbag, socks, tights, a hoody and a beanie!

To enter, simply tweet @Brooksrunninguk with the one part of training you’ve learnt to love to hate! The competition ends on Monday 22nd June. Good luck!

Mixed-paced sessions to boost endurance

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When training for an endurance event, it’s so easy to fall into your comfort zone and churn out the same old training sessions week after week. But, if you’ve run HellRunner before, you’ll know that HellRunner is far from comfortable, and while nothing can fully prepare you, it’s worth shocking your body with a few different sessions to prepare your body for the different type of challenge.

In terms of training adaptation, your body responds and adapts to the type, quantity and frequency of workload and stress that you place it under. If you always do the same type of training, your body becomes used to this level of exertion and stops adapting and improving.

Mixing up your pace adds different stresses and workloads to your training. In doing so, your body will adapt (physiologically and psychologically) to these and you will become more tolerant of high-intensity physical activity.

Including a mix of training at different speeds means that you exposure yourself to greater demands and use different energy systems – forcing your body to adapt. Challenge yourself in new ways and boost your endurance ready for HellRunner with these four mixed-paced running sessions.

OUT AND BACK TEMPO 20 (Intensity level 7/10)

After 10 minutes warming up, run 10 minutes out in one direction at a ‘tempo’ pace (7/10 effort). Control the pace but be working. Turn at 10 minutes and run the same way back to your start point. Pacing the effort equally is crucial. For the out and back runs, distances achieved should be the same. Ideally, you’ll get back to the start point a few seconds inside 10 minutes.

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TRIPLE 6 (Intensity level 8/10)

This run is about including three different levels of effort in the same single run. After a 5-minute warm-up jog, run 5 minutes at a steady pace (6/10 effort). Then ramp up your pace to a tempo (7/10) for 6 minutes. At the end of the 6 minutes, ramp it up again to a threshold pace for 6 minutes (8/10). Then at the end of the threshold 6 minutes, drop your pace subtly back to a tempo pace for 6 minutes. Remember the subtle difference between paces from the edge of comfort to just under that. Finally, at the end of the 6-minute tempo effort, finish with a 5-minute warm-down run.

PYRAMID OF PAIN (Intensity level 8/10)

After an easy warm-up run of 5 to 10 minutes, run a pyramid of high-intensity effort. Start with 1 minute of threshold running, followed by 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes, and 5 minutes. Take a 1-minute jog between each effort. After the completion of the 5-minute effort, come back down the pyramid, running efforts of 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes and 1 minute. Finish with a 5-minute warm-down run.

 

 

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FAST 400’s (Intensity level 9/10)

On a marked 400m track (synthetic, grass or flat, fast trail) run 6x400m as fast as you can for each one. Take a ratio of 2:1 as recovery. So if running 400m takes you 90 seconds, take 3 minutes as recovery. Your target is to spread your effort out evenly across the six efforts and not run the first two so quickly you can’t maintain the quality for the rest of the session. Start and conclude the workout with 5 min.

Hell Down South POV Highlights

For those looking for an idea of what Hell Down South is like, take a look at one fan’s point of view experience…

Strengthening exercises for HellRunner

Prepare your whole body for HellRunner with these five full-body strengthening exercises.

1. CRUNCHES, ARMS ABOVE HEAD

 

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Muscles: Six-pack muscle (rectus abdominus).

Why do it? Running requires good core strength. Build up strength before you increase your mileage.

Technique: Lie with your back on the floor and your arms above your head. Crunch your head, shoulders and arms off the floor. Keep your arms next to your ears. Slowly lower with control.

 2. PULSING LUNGES

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Muscles: Front thigh (quadriceps)

Why do it? The top and bottom part of your muscles are weaker than the middle part. By only training a small part of the range of motion, you can increase the strength of your thighs.

Technique: Stand with your right leg in front of your left. Bend your knees lower until your left knee touches the floor. This is the starting position. Lift your left knee two to three
inches off the floor. Slowly lower down back to the floor. Complete one set befor changing over.

3. WEIGHTED WIDE SQUATS

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Muscles: Front thighs, bottom (quadriceps, glutes).

Why do it? The stronger your thighs are, the more power you can generate, thus the longer it will take for your legs to fatigue.

Technique: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart with your feet turned out to a 45˚angle. Hold a weight in each hand. Bend your knees to perform a squat.
Only lower until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Return to starting position.

4. STRAIGHT-LEG PENDULUM SQUATS

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Muscles: Front and outer thigh, glutes (quadriceps, abductors).

Why do it? To be a good runner, all your muscles need to work together as a unit. This exercise helps with leg
strength and glute activation.

Technique: Stand with your legs close together. Bend your knees and perform a squat. Only lower as much as you feel comfortable. Stand up and swing your rightl leg sideways
Keep your leg straight. Replace your foot and repeat the squat with a side-leg lift with your left leg. Alternate between right and left.

5. STEP-UP LUNGES

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Muscles: Front thigh, hip flexors, bottom (quadriceps, psoas muscles, glutes).

Why do it? Strong thighs will give you more strength to help you run uphill.

Technique:

Place your right leg on a step and keep your left leg on the floor. Bend your knees and lower your left knee towards the floor. Push off with your left leg to a single-leg stance on the step. Return your left leg to the floor and bend your knee to perform a lunge.

3 unique ways to mix up your HellRunner training

Wild SwimmingWeiswampach_triathlon_2007_men_swimming_start

Wild swimming is, as the name suggests, swimming in the wild – in the abundance of rivers and lakes that our country has to offer. Just like our very own Bog of Doom.

Swimming in rivers and lakes offers a little more aerobic workout than conventional indoor swimming, not only will it be colder but you’ll need to fight against currents as well as possible branches and other Mother Nature obstacles. If you’re looking for an authentic Bog of Doom workout than look no further.

For safe and accessible wild swim locations near you, visit wildswimming.co.uk.Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing

Remember how hard the Hills of Hell are? Some were indeed vertical.  Rock climbing is an amazing activity in building upper body strength as well as building speed in doing so.

Not only will building your strength by using your own body weight help you up the Hills of Hell, but, it will make you faster over the flatter parts of the course.

Visit ukclimbing.com to find a climbing wall near you.

Boxing

Many people may be confused as to thinking boxing is just about strength, try three minutes on a punching bag, you’ll be annihilated. mindset-of-a-champion

Boxing provides a full-body workout, while greatly improving speed, agility and foot speed. Aside from skipping, the core work involved in sparring and bag work will work wonders for your running posture and efficiency.

With HellRunner courses being unpredictable and fairly up and down, this type of sport will give you a deft touch on the route.

To get started with boxing, visit here: http://www.gbboxing.org.uk/page-getting-started-in-boxing.php

4 of the best breakfasts to eat before HellRunner

If you’re taking on the UK’s toughest half marathon, you’re going to need a decent breakfast to fuel up before the race. Your pre HellRunner breakfast should be rich in complex carbohydrates (your body’s preferred energy source) and contain a good dose of high-quality protein. Aim for a 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. This will top up your body’s glycogen stores efficiently and get you up those Hills of Hell.

Punchy Porridge

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Warm-up before the Bog Of Doom with a warming bowl of porridge. Oats provide slow-releasing carbohydrate to fuel longer runs and will keep you fuller for longer. An easy-to-digest carbohydrate, bananas are a great porridge topper for a fast boost of energy. Dried fruit such as berries will also provide quick-release instant energy, as will a good drizzle of honey.

Recipe: 50g porridge oats, 350ml semi-skimmed milk, one chopped banana, two teaspoons of honey

Mighty muesli

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Combining wholegrains, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, muesli provides a great source of slow-burning energy – just what you need when you’re five miles in, drenched in bog water, and have a hellish incline to tackle. Combine with milk or probiotic-rich yoghurt as an easy-to-digest, liquid carbohydrate.

Recipe: 60g Rude Health Super Fruity Organic Muesli served with a tablespoon of 2% Total Greek Yogurt and a handful of fresh berries.

Bad-ass bagel

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Whether you’re a sweet tooth or a savoury lover, you can’t go wrong with a bagel. Top it with peanut butter for a slow sustained release of energy or smother in low-fat soft cheese for a good dose of protein. Choose a white bagel as an easy-to-digest carbohydrate.

Recipe: 1 white bagel with 1 tbsp of low-fat soft cream cheese and top with 1 thinly sliced apple and 1 tbsp of raisins.

Efficient eggs

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Scrambled eggs on toast offer the perfect balance of carbohydrate and protein. Not only a great source of protein, eggs also provide plenty of B vitamins. While whole-grain bread is a healthier option, it is worth sticking to white bread the morning before a race to avoid an upset stomach! Refined carbohydrates will provide your body with quickly absorbed energy needed to fuel your muscles!

Recipe: 2 scrambled eggs, a handful of spinach leaves, 1 teaspoon butter, 2 slices white toast and a 250ml glass of orange juice.

5 of the best recovery snacks

After an extreme OCR event such as HellRunner, refuelling your body with nutritional snacks is vital to recovery. In the first hour after a race, a nutritious snack will kick start the muscle repair process, replace fluids lost during the race, and boost your energy levels. Sports nutritionists advise grabbing a snack which contains a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein in the first hour after a race to speed up muscle recovery. It is also worth choosing a snack that is easy to digest and contains a good balance of high-glycameic-index carbohydrates and slower-release carbohydrates. Here’s five of the best post-run recovery snacks.

1. Flavoured milk

Milk’s high protein and carbohydrate  content helps refuel exhausted muscles. A 2009 study from James Madison University in the US found that chocolate milk promoted better
muscle recovery than a commercial sports drink.

 

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2. Yogurt

Fruit yogurt contains carbohydrate (lactose and sucrose) and protein in a 4:1 ratio. According to University of Texas studies, this nutrient ratio accelerates post exercise refuelling,
which means faster recovery and muscles that feel less sore the next day. Yogurt is also rich in bone-building calcium – one 150g pot delivers around one third of your
daily needs.

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3. Bananas

Bananas supply easily digestible carbohydrate – around 15g per banana – from a mixture of sugars (fructose, glucose and sucrose) and starch – perfect for replenishing muscle fuel. Bananas also deliver potassium, which is essential for balancing fluid levels in cells after running, and magnesium formaking new body cells.

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4. Rice cakes with peanut butter

Plain rice cakes can provide a quick energy boost after a run, but eating them with a little peanut butter is even better. This combination provides the perfect ratio of carbs to protein (4:1) for speedy glycogen refuelling and muscle repair.
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5. Clif Shot Protein Recovery drink

With protein, carbohydrates, and sodium, CLIF SHOT Protein Recovery helps you bounce back quickly from tough workouts and races.

 

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Top 4 at-home exercises for HellRunner

See below for your top 5 exercises which will you help you become a HellRunner success, and achieve a faster time.

Squat jumpsJump_Squat1

You know those Hills of Hell? Yeah, this will help. Squat jumps will really work your quads and when put into practice, you won’t believe how much easier you’ll find those ‘ruddy hills. You’ll be able to really feel the lactic acid in your legs after only a few jumps, this should remind you of what getting to the top of a hill is like.

To perform a squat jump

1. Place your hands on your head like you would for a crunch.

2. Bend your knees, keeping your back straight, till your bum is nearly level with your knees.

3. Spring up from this position, with your toes pointing down, so that there is air between you and the ground.

4. As you land, slowly repeat the process.

Nordic Curls

nordic-curlThis exercise is one of the best hamstring exercises around. It involves eccentrically loading the hamstrings, meaning tension and force is applied whilst the muscle is lengthening. This has been shown to result in significantly more muscle growth and strength compared to traditional concentric (or muscle shortening) exercises. HellRunner will put serious stress on your hamstrings, so it’s important they’re strong.

To perform a Nordic curl

1. Kneel on your knees and wedge your ankles under a stable surface that is able to support your Bodyweight. 

2. Stick your hips back and lock the spine flat

3. Begin to slowly fall towards the floor contracting your hamstrings and Glutes as hard as you can throughout

4. The goal is to fall as slowly as possible using your hamstrings to resist

5. Have your hands out in front of you and when you get close to the floor push yourself back to the start position and repeat

Back raisesback-extensions-exercise-illustration-1024x682

The use of your lower back is key while running alone, bring in rough terrain and various gradients it becomes even more essential. Back raises will really strengthen the lumber part of your back.

To perform a Back raise:

1. Lay on your front with your hands on your head, like you would for a crunch.

2. Slowly lift your head and legs into the air

3. Hold for a second and bring down again

4. Repeat this process

Plank Variations

front_plankPoor core strength and stability has been shown to negatively impact running efficiency and increase the risk of injury. Core training is essential for any runner looking to improve their performance. The most important exercises to focus on are isometric holds, which target the deep core muscles that help with trunk stability and posture.

To perform a Plank and its variations:

1. Rest on your toes and your elbows on the floor

2. Position the feet just outside hip width

3. Keep the pelvis tucked under and the spine flat

4. To perform a suicide plank, move from the elbows to the hands one at a time, making sure that the hips stay square and the abs remain tensed

5. To perform a superman plank maintain plank position and raise one arm out in front of you. Aim to keep the hips square and do not let the torso rotate

6. Transition from one version into another without rest

For an improvement in strength to be seen the weight must be challenging enough to force the body to adapt but not too heavy that technique falls down or that you start to use momentum to cheat the weight up. Keep reps in the 5-8 range for 3-4 working sets (not including warm up sets) and rest for 1.5-2 minutes between sets. I’d suggest maybe adding two to three strength and conditioning sessions a week into your running schedule.