Health Tip: Hills and Speed Work for Beginners

Should you run hills and do speed work if you are new?

I have read all manner of training methods, speed, hills, tempo, base training, training pace, goal pace and race pace. After weighing all the evidence I am convinced that the most important thing to do is log miles and time on the road. By far, the greatest number of injuries occur in runners who do not have enough base training before they embark on hill, or speed training. I like to shoot for 15 miles a week and then build up to 35 miles per week for the new runners who are training for a marathon. You will need at least one long slow distance run every week. This should be a progression of alternating short and long runs. As the Long distance run progresses into the higher mileage, you can cut back on the number of running days during the week while maintaining your 30 to 35 mile base. On the days that you do not run, it would be wise to start on strength training. The transition to strength training will usually happen at about the 6th week of your program. The first 6 weeks should be run with the goal of logging time on the road at a slow pace. Time on the road is what you are really looking for so going fast will only make you tired and increase the possibility of an injury. You need to stress your metabolic engine for sustained periods of time so that your body can become accustomed to it in the late miles.

Running is in our genes, it’s primordial, you were born for it. Now just run, and do a lot of it. Take it easy and let the feeling of running become part of your nature again. You had the ability once, when you were young. You ran everywhere. Your ancestors could run down an antelope to a point of exhaustion and the family would follow along in trail to enjoy the feast. Restore the runner within and feel the joy of gliding along the trail of life with your fellow man. What a pleasure!

Steve Smith