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Aerobic hill intervals are a great way to build specific leg strength for running. My athletes are often surprised that they can climb relatively steep inclines while maintaining an aerobic level simply by slowing pace considerably. I may start an athlete off hill walking at a steep incline. It is important to adjust level of incline gradually as well as length of climbing interval. I add in more elevation each week and lengthen intervals.
Power work may also start in weight room after a sufficient amount of strength work has built tendon, ligament, and joint strength. I have found body weight or light weight is often enough resistance for most power work. I may start a session with strength or strength endurance work and end with power work. It is easy to over do power work however, and injury can results. Form and technique are crucial. On bike power work starts at end of base and involves very short high cadence, high resistance efforts of 10 seconds. I allow much recovery between these efforts (5-10 min.) so energy systems are properly restored. I then proceed to more sustained and repeated efforts of 1-5 min with plenty of recovery. These efforts have added benefit of building aerobic capacity and are more suited for general preparation or build periods. Finally, jumps and sprints, often with incomplete recovery are stressed. I may prescribe many of these in a single session to train body to buffer lactic acid. This work is highly prescriptive and may only be performed 1-2x per month. Again, amount of time spent with this type of work will vary by athlete and sport.
Run power can start with technique drills during base season. I may then add short explosive sprints to end of hill climbing efforts we are already performing regularly. Hill intervals of various lengths and intensities will help promote explosive power and leg strength. Generally I save most intensive run speed and power work for last 2 blocks preceding peak.
Although this is a brief overview you can realize progression. The work outs you perform should build on one another throughout season and keep you from overreaching. Performing a variety of work outs has added benefit of keeping your training interesting and helps prevent burn out. Organize your work outs as you do your season. Each work out is a tool and you have to decide when it is most effective to take it out of tool box.
Matt Russ has coached and trained athletes around the country and internationally. He currently holds licenses by USAT, USATF, and is an Expert level USAC coach. Matt has coached athletes for CTS (Carmichael Training Systems), is an Ultrafit Associate. Visit www.thesportfactory.com for more information.