Saturday, 5 February 2011

Flash! Aaaaarrgh

I'm now getting back into a sort of training plan, having spent most of the winter doing the odd jog here and there. I've been out running 3 times this week, and I fancied something a bit different today. So I tested my new cross-training technique - cycling hill reps.

The good thing about cycling is that it's not an impact activity, so you can do it when your joints are sore from running or as a recovery activity. It also isolates your big thigh muscles so is good training for uphill running. The bad thing about cycling is that it takes a long time and there are often long bits between the hills.

So, why not do hill reps on a bike? There are many answers - such as "because it's dull". Still, I've not grown tired of it yet. I'm quite lucky in that I live within a few miles of Flash - Britain's highest village. Old Flash road deserves more than the 1 arrow it gets on the OS map. The steepest bit has over 100 metres of ascent in not very much distance and I'm pleasingly tired by the end of it. I can just do it on my road bike, but the gear ratios are not really designed for hills, so I prefer it on Mrs Noel's heavier mountain bike.

Today I did four reps of it and my thighs are now pleasingly achy, despite the rest of me not feeling too tired. Hopefully I can get out for a run tomorrow. I'm sure I could do a lot more ascent if I went out for a proper bike ride. However, that would take 2-3 hours. Today's reps took less than an hour, including the time taken to get there and back.

Here's the profile from my mapping software.

I await comments:
(a) from proper cyclists, saying how I should be doing more reps, harder hills, and using my road bike, and
(b) from fell runners, saying how this type of training won't help.


  1. Noel. This type of training won't help.

  2. Nah, seriously, sounds like excellent training to me. I often think about doing more cycling to complement flat out running, but don't seem to get round to it. A lot of great 'local' fellrunners get lots of cycle miles into their legs - take Daz Holloway for example. Awesome performance finishing 6th at Mickleden, half of which was into a 65mph headwind. That core and quad strength powered him through, whilst the more, erm, fragile runners like me (I'm not including you in that), were left trailing in his wake fifteen minutes later. I've been taking a similar approach to you but doing lots of weight work instead, focussing on quads and core. Only been at it a month, hoping for a noticeable difference by mid-March.

    Keep at it. Sorry for the essay. :-)

  3. No worries - essays are good. Yes, I've been noticing how many good fell runners do a lot of cycling. I was talking to one the other day who doesn't do any running training. He just bikes and then does fell races!!

    I'll be interested to see how your weight training helps - good luck.

  4. sounds like perfect Fred training , im up for some cycling hill reps if you want some company?
    winnats pass?

  5. Thanks Dave. I'm pretty sure that would be a humbling experience for me. I'd be interested to see what I should be aiming for.

  6. Cycling reps indeed help. Ive done a lot of riding recently 80miles yesterday and another 50 today into the hilly peak district.
    Trouble is with road biking is the hours spent on the bike.You really do have to love the sport.
    Ive always had a passion for the bike but some years I do lots, some years I dont.
    Biking is hard if you have a young family.
    I know some lads down here who do 20 hours a week and dont have a job but live simple cheap lives.
    Keep it up Noel, it will help.

  7. Cheers Daz. Yes, I've noticed a lot of good fell runners cycle a lot. You're certainly right about the hours needed. Hopefully my hill reps will pack all the value into a quick 1-hour session. Time will tell.

    20 hours a week - that's dedication.