Training: A 10k Hill Fartleks Session

The moon was just rising bright in the sky on the way to running club

The moon was just rising bright in the sky on the way to running club

Another Wednesday, another club night with Purbeck Runners! We’re now well and truly into autumn with it being dark before we even set off. Gone are the evening runs over sunlit meadows and grassy hills – no, for the next six months it’s pavements and shivering as you step out into the night air. (Actually it was 15 degrees when I got out of the car last night… but you get the idea!)

For once I actually remembered to start my watch at the beginning of the session, so I can say with confidence that we ran for 10.7k last night and this mainly involved steep hills and higher paced circuits of interconnected streets.

Run route Swanage

Hill Fartleks Session

This was a combination session involving fartleks, where you use objects on the street (streetlights in our case) as markers for faster paced sections and hills. So as we run, Coach Ross shouts “SECOND LAMP-POST ON THE RIGHT!” and we all speed up… two minutes jogging then “TO THE TOP OF THIS HILL FAST AS YOU CAN!” etc etc for an hour.

We started off with a warm up jog of 2k which took us up some fairly steep hills in itself. After this we ran two laps of a quiet oval shaped road, which just happened to be a few metres short of 400m – so 800m in total. We then jogged downhill for a minute before sprinting up a steep hill for 300 metres and jogging back down. After a section of 1k easy we then sprinted up another steep hill called Newton Road for 260 metres before jogging slowly again for 5 mins. Then another 200m sprint up an slight incline and sprint back down, easy for 5oo metres back to Newton Road, sprinting up this again – another 400m circuit, another sprint for 300m up a steep hill, back down and a final 2x laps of the road oval to finish – phew! A 2.5km warm down and arrived back at my car just as the heavens opened!

The idea for these sessions is to run small sections faster than you would normally run, to allow you body to make the adaptations needed to run at these faster speeds. The hills are a form of resistance training, forcing your legs muscles to work harder to propel you up the hill meaning even more fitness gains. Looking at my heart rate zones for this session it was spot on, as I spent an equal time in ‘easy’ as I did in ‘sprint’…


Training zones heart rate

Heart rate training zones

Session In Summary (approx 2 mins slow jog between each)

2k warmup
800m flat @ 5k pace
300m hill sprint
260m hill sprint
200m slight incline sprint
200m slight decline sprint
260m hill sprint
400m flat @ 5k pace
300m hill sprint
800m @ 5k pace

Next Training

An easy 5k this evening and then nothing else as I rest before Club Championship race 13/14 at the Studland Stampede

Training: A 10K Hill Repeats Sandwich

Sunday, did 200m, long jump and 400m races. Monday, couldn’t move. Tuesday, couldn’t move even more. Wednesday, could move a bit. That track and field session on Sunday pulled muscles I didn’t even know I had and I was still feeling it in my legs as I set of for running club last night.

I forgot to start my watch (again!) so it will be a very general summary of last night’s training session. Looking at Map My Run it was 10.3km in Swanage:

We ran for around 3.5k as a warm up – a couple of km along the flat promenade and a 1km hike up Swanage Downs.

Then… we hit Newton Road – 26o metres of uphillness. The dreaded Newton Road begins with around 50 metres of steep ascent, before continuing uphill at a gentler climb for another 150 metres. It’s actually the more gentle climb that gets you! We did eight repeats up this hill, increasing the speed/effort each time until I could barely move another step by the end of the last one. Actually I was like that by the end of the penultimate one! Each uphill effort was followed by a slow, three minute jog back down to the bottom of the hill, before immediately turning around and running back up!

We finished by doing a gentle 2km jog back to the end / pub for a well earned drink : )


Running Training: Back To Winter Sessions with Fartleks / Hills

Nothing makes me feel that winter is approaching more than leaving the woods, fields and cliff-tops behind, and instead running through the concrete jungle in street-lamp lit twilight. After the fun and games of relays in the park last week, we were now back to pounding the pavements under the watchful eye and guiding voice of Coach Ross AKA ‘Ross The Merciless’. This was an ‘if it aint hurtin’, you aint workin” kind of session and believe me, by the end, my legs were a hurtin’.

The Session

As per usual I forgot to start my watch until just after we’d finished the warmup but I was reliably informed by Doc that   the total session was 6.77 miles (10.8k). My watch made it 8.9k so we must have been running for around 2km before I switched on…

Soooo…. we did a 1.5km warm up of gentle jogging, before starting the intervals. Looking at the stats from my watch, I make it a total of 28 fast paced intervals in 47 minutes. The session was obviously carefully planned by Coach Ross as the elevation (and so the intensity) gradually increased throughout the session, going from warm-up pace, to a flat stretch of intervals, to huge, horrid, hard hills and then graduating downhill to the flat promenade.

I spent 45% of the session in my ‘sprint’ heart rate zone which tallies with a hard hills/intervals session. I could not force my legs to run any faster during the final few intervals – I was spent!

It was also nice to do a few all out sprints in preparation for this Sunday’s athletics meet, where I’m running the 200m, 400m and long jump.

Pace during intervals session

Heart rate zones during intervals session

Elevation of intervals session



Running Training: Skills, Drills and Hills (Hill Repeats Session)

A three part training session last night with Purbeck Runners as we worked on running form (skills), did a series of repeats up steps (drills) and then hit some hills…

As ever, my memory of the actual session is terrible – I really need to make notes at the time! 

Prince Albert Gardens Swanage (Google Maps)

The Session

We began with a gentle jog for around one mile before pausing to begin a series of ‘skills’ that combine a warm up with improving your running form:


1) Flicking legs up behind
2) Raising knees high in front
3) Combo of flicking legs high behind and then raising knees
4) Lunges
5) Running sideways then with leg crossovers
6) Running backwards


So to the bottom of a set of steps with a path that looped round from the top and back to the bottom and the beginning of the steps again. Here we did the following drill:

3x 1 step at a time
3x 2 steps at a time
3x 3 steps at a time

Then we reversed it and ran three times down the steps and back up the path.


You can see the different sets of hills clearly in the image below, with the elevation gradually increasing with each set.

Session elevations

Session elevations

Short & Sharp x3

We then moved across to a point just around the corner which is actually the start of the Lifeboat Loop 5k. It is a short but VERY steep hill that we ran at 100% effort up three times. By this time my legs were actually shaking – a combination of the effort in this session and residual tiredness from The Beast two days before.

Medium Length & Incline x3
We then moved to the path in the centre of the picture at the top of this post which offered a gentler incline but a longer distance and ran this three times. You’ll notice that I’m not mentioning any timings with any of these repeats as it was all effort based – straight from the, ‘if it’s not hurting, you aint working’ school of training!

Long & Final All-Out x3

The final set of repeats was on a longer path which also had mini steps at two points. This was where I went all out to finish things off and by the end of the third and final repeat, I could not have run another centimetre! Job done. 

Next Training

Arghhh I have my first triathlon in ten days and I still haven’t ridden my new bike, or indeed any bike in around five years! So running may have to make way for some cross training activities with a short ride tonight, followed by a swim tomorrow evening. Then Parkrun on Saturday and the Littledown 5 mile race on Sunday (a Dorset Road Running League race).

Running Training: Hill Repeats (Resistance Work)

I think I got wetter last night doing our rain soaked hills session in Swanage, than I did whilst swimming the night before! Kind of nice though training in the summer rain, once you’ve warmed up…

Hill training is excellent for building cardiovascular fitness. You can really feel it in your chest at the end of the session, gulping down great desperate breaths to try and feed enough oxygen to dilapidated leg muscles. It’s a form of resistance training, pushing muscles harder to overcome gravity. In fact:

“Runners who train on hills have much higher concentrations of aerobic enzymes – the chemicals which allow your muscles to function at high intensity for long periods without fatigue” Runners World

Hill Session

I stupidly forgot to hit ‘start’ on my watch so the distances will have to be approximate. The session went as follows:

– 2k warm up

– 3x 150m sprint uphill, 3x 100m, 3x 75m, 3x 100m, 3x 150m

– 1k warm down

During the middle section of 100m sprints it got a bit competitive and I ended up sprinting all-out at 100% effort, up what is quite steep hill. So by the final set of 150m I was running on dead and empty legs – this was the point at which I felt like my chest was going to burst! I wish i’d had my heart rate monitor on my watch switch on jut to see what it peaked at.


Distance: (Approx) 5k
Time: about 35-40 minutes we were out for

Next Training

A nice easy 10k run tonight as I start to taper down for… THE BEAST Arrrghhh! 13 miles of hell.


Training: 10k With 3 Long Hill Repeats

One thing I could not believe, was how much my legs hurt this morning after yesterday’s father’s race! Absolute agony! Teach me to go from zero to full on sprint with no warm up, but you can’t warm up for a father’s race…can you?!

Legs still aching when I went off to club night tonight, but sometimes a good run sorts these things out. Until I saw the hill we were set to do repeats up! 3x repeats up a 400 metre, 45 degree hill with a 3 minute jog back down between each. Topped and tailed with a warm up and warm down each side to make 10k total in 60 minutes.

Can’t beat the view:



Next Training
Upton Summer Time Trial (3.5 miles) on Friday, followed by Portland 10 mile on Sunday

Training: Fartleks & How to Maximise Your Running Training

The Training

Now this was a lesson in the mantra ‘Listen To Your Body’! After Tuesday night’s track session, my legs were feeling a little tired as I stepped out of the car to join our Wednesday night club session. As we warmed up for a couple of km they were still feeling heavy. By the time we’d run 7k’s worth of sprint/jog, sprint/jog fartleks they felt like lumps of lead! Felt alright this morning though so no harm done…

The training itself was exactly 9km, including warm up and warm down and lasted precisely 44:07 (thanks Garmin!)

Two Things I Realised

There were two interesting things that I noticed last night on how to maximise a training session:

1) Include some horrible hills

Sprint up them, as fast as you can. Don’t think about the next one. So I guess it was a fartlek hills session (Swanage is a hilly place1)

2) Get Competitive

In a nice way. From personal experience even though I think I’m pushing myself as hard as I can when doing a solo speed/hill session, I’m usually not. I know this because when doing a group session I run much faster (to keep up), much harder (I’m not the one choosing the hills) and for much longer (no chance of ducking home early).

The moral of the story? Running clubs are great – join one!

Next Training:

An easy-verging-on-tempo run tonight after two evenings of speed work in a row! Then off to Cornwall for a weekend’s relaxing (spelt ‘running’!)