No Hills? No Problem!


My family just recently moved from our home at the base of the Wasatch Mountains to the coast of Ireland.  While we are enjoying the temporary change of scenery, we are trying to adjust what our everyday training looks like without the convenient access to steep mountain trails.  

The challenge is this: after a few years of bad luck in the UTMB lottery, Tommy finally got his chance at the big dance in Chamonix, France.  Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc is a 105 mile trail race through the Alps with over 33,000 feet of climbing. Is it possible to be ready for a race of this magnitude when there is not a mountain let alone hill to be seen in our area?  The answer is yes. Of course it is not ideal and will be more difficult but this is a common issue for those without mountains to train in on a regular basis. Here are the key workouts that Tommy will be focusing on for this race without convenient access to steep grade:

  1. Stair climber machine.  Ew. I dislike these as much as the next person but we will do the thing that must be done.  He will start early season with at least one session per week and increase it to two with increasing duration as the race gets nearer.

  2. Steep incline treadmill runs.  Same as above. Do not make the mistake of thinking steep grade treadmill incline is the same as a stair climber.  I learned the hard way in my early years of running that running up a steep road near my house did not adequately prepare my glutes, hips and hip flexors for the constant leg pickup of climbing over rocks and up natural steps in the last 6 mile climb of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon while training for my first traverse of the Grand Canyon.  I nearly didn’t make it and have never experienced sore like I did in the days following that adventure. In fact, the women that trained by only hiking were able to run the Rim to Rim faster than my friends and I that had trained by running up road hills. My muscles were just not adequately prepare for the terrain.

  3. Speedwork.  I know this sounds counterintuitive for a steep mountainous race.  In a previous newsletter article, I talked about the fitness gains that occur in your body during these speedwork sessions and how they can benefit you in even mountainous races.  This is why someone like Kaci Lickteig, a competitive trail athlete can compete in the forefronts of women’s distance races and even win and podium in mountainous races like Western States 100 and The Bear 100, all while living and training in the flattest place on earth (self declaired), Nebraska.  

If you live somewhere without mountains but dream of those beautiful races up high, don’t write them off.  If you want more help with how to get you properly prepared and to utilize the resources you have, contact us at Mtn Rdy.