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Should you leave your competition behind on the hills?

"A hill is just another opportunity to leave your competition behind" - Unknown

This is a pretty good tip, actually.

However, the real wisdom in buried in the words here.

Most runners would mistake this tip as a free pass to speed past their competition on the hills.

But, hitting the gas pedal on the hills on race day is often a mistake.

A large majority of run power data I analyze indicates that runners often go too hard up hills.

You may see your competition disappearing when you peek behind you at the top of the hill. However, they are likely to catch back up.

Why is that?

If you push past your race target on hills, you are tapping into your Functional Reserve Capacity (FRC).

It is fine & even recommended to tap into your FRC at the end of a race because you can deplete this reserve tank as you cross the finish line. But, if you deplete your FRC early in the race to get ahead of the competition, you will be suffering late in the race.

You may be looking at a positive split race result (last half of the race slower than the first half) and you will not be having much fun trying to keep your lead.

That swings the door wide open for them to catch up.

Fortunately, you can use this dynamic to your advantage.

Let's flip this quote on its head.

Hills are still a great opportunity to leave your competition behind.

Hopefully, the competition pushes too hard to leave you behind on the early hills and burns through their reserves.

If that happens, it gives you an even better opportunity to pass them later on.

Your pacing will be more perfect and you can overtake them when it matters.

You can only do this if you run at the right intensity though.

If you undercook your power on the hills, you are leaving time on the table.

If you overcook your power on the hills, you will be depleted for the moments that count.

Stryd can help pace you at the exact intensity you are capable of.

The process is pretty simply:

1. Determine your Critical Power (this determines your overall capability)
2. Determine the right power for your race distance (this determines your race capability)
3. Run at that power target from start to finish (this ensures you run to your capability)

You can get Stryd here: https://store.stryd.com/

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Angus Nelson

Angus Nelson

Angus is a cofounder of Stryd. He has trained for and raced every distance from 50 meters to Half Ironman & is pushing the run power revolution forward!

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