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Facing an Uphill Battle: Running Fitness

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  1. Introduction
  2. What is mountain running?
  3. The cardiovascular solution
  4. Cross training: Can it get you higher faster?
  5. Taking it beyond just training
  6. Conclusion

When Ana Pichrtova talks about mountain running her eyes light up; she can't disguise the pure joy that these trail treks bring her. ?I just love it! I love the trails, I love running- that's it!? Pichrtova exudes. Most elites, like Pichrtova, know the benefits of training on arduous mountains. They increase the cardiovascular system's capabilities, they improve a runner's strength and when it comes to running faster 5K's, training in the mountains can help you slice seconds off your current PR. But when it comes to common road warriors most don't understand (or choose to neglect!) just how beneficial mountain running can be. No one said that climbing a mountain was easy, in fact it can be quite the difficult task, but when it comes to overcoming an existing plateau there may not be anything better than hitting the hills hard.

[...] Some runners praise cross-training as being the best way to ward off injuries and enhance fitness while others disregard it as a ?giant waste of time.' Pichrtova, a former world record holder and current European mountain running champion, credits her cross-training as her ?secret weapon.? Pichrtova stated, think a big reason I'm as fast as I am today is because of all the cross-country skiing I have done. In the past I was an avid skier and I think that it really helped to strengthen my quads for this type of hill climbing.? Pichrtova also finds it beneficial to train up and down the mountains as well, especially for a runner preparing for a race that has a significant amount of both. [...]

[...] Mountain racing offers the chance to not only battle competitors but to face an uphill battle that pushes you further than you otherwise would have expected. Mountain running can be used as a training tool for quicker paced races or it can be the focal point of your training sessions. Whatever you use the training for it is sure to enhance not only your strength and speed but your overall approach to running in general. Nicole Hunt, 9th place finisher at the 2006 World Mountain Running Championships, may have summed it up the best when she stated, ?Mountain running is brutal, it's painful- really painful but her eyes drift off before continuing, shows us who we really are and how far our bodies can go. [...]

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