The “H” word is one word that you will hear repeatedly muttered (often preceded with adjectives that are not appropriate for a family friendly blog), by every runner preparing for Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, whether back, middle or front of the pack. And for good reason. If Chapmans Peak and Constantia Nek are not tough enough, just when you start enjoying going down, along comes the “little” bumps near Cecelia forest, aptly named, Bugger 1 and Bugger 2. You are not out of the woods yet, just when you can see the finish line flags waving (I think they are actually laughing!) at you in the distance, you are faced with the Everest of all climbs on the day, Chet’s hill!
That said, here are a few tips to have you cruising the hills like a Kenyan:
- Slow and steady gets the job done, don’t look at your watch pace, focus on a controlled steady even effort. Listen to your breathing and go at a pace that your breathing is controlled, focusing on breathing with your belly.
- Run tall. I often see runners bent over at the waist, shoulders hunched forward. Think Superman, chest out, shoulders open and relaxed, hips tall and belt buckle moving forward.
- Use your arms to drive the legs. Focus on driving the elbows backwards while keeping the shoulders loose and relaxed.
- Keep your eyes focused straight ahead. This will ensure your head stays level and posture tall.
- If you walk on the hills, walk tall and with purpose.
- Always run over the top of the hill.
Finally, when hitting the much anticipated down, ease into it, get your breathing under control, relax into the descent and then allow gravity to gently take you down at a comfortable rhythm (avoid excessive braking). Resist the panic to try make up time on the downhills, especially down Chapman’s Peak, it is still early days and you will pay heavily later on.
I hope these tips help put the Happy in your hills. Pop me an email if you have any other questions about your preparation.