How to prepare when you can't emulate race day conditions

I have been preaching a simple, but invaluable tip the last few weeks.

You must emulate the conditions you expect to see on race day in your training if you don't want to look like a fish out of water.

And, that has been a challenge for some folks:


Angus! I cannot emulate the race day hills. I live in an area as flat as a pancake, but I am training for a hilly race across the country.

Heck, I even want to be in the Boston Marathon a few years from now and I hear those hills have broken more runners than any others hills in the world.

Is my race over before it even starts if I can't prepare properly?


Well, as someone who grew up in a pancake flat area of the midwestern United States, I can say that there is no need to panic.

There is one particular experience that jumps to mind:

Let's turn back the clock 8 years.

It was a few months before I visited Colorado for the first time for a Cross Country training camp.

A quick Google search revealed intimidating mountains far higher than the corn stalks of the midwest.

I was in utter panic.

That panic only got worse when I discovered that the oxygen content at elevation is far lower than it is as sea level...which makes running a lot harder.

(As you can tell, I was a young, naive runner.)

Without much hill running experience or a hope of emulating the high elevation, I defaulted to running the longest staircases I could find over and over and over again at midday in the hottest and most humid days of summer.

I spent a lot of days walking home while huffing and puffing for air with an awkward gait from tearing my legs up.

I wasn't satisfied with that however.

I also learned that I could expect a lot of loose trail surfaces.

So, I took my most worn out, grip-less shoes I had and ran on the loosest gravel I could find.

That was an odd summer of running.

However, I did step up the trailheads with some confidence and those "skills" I built up translated over well enough to the mountain running in Colorado.

So, as I said, not all hope is loss for our runner.

You should find some local environment that gets you out of your comfort zone, but reminds you of the conditions you expect to see on race day.

Get creative!

That time will not be put to waste.

And, perhaps, your answer to preparing for a challenging race is sitting in your basement: your treadmill.

My colleague, Evan, did a really great podcast that talks about the differences of treadmill running and how Stryd helps uncover these differences to help guide your training indoors.

A treadmill can be an invaluable training tool since you can set a specific incline and the heat/humidity found indoors can add a whole new texture of challenges.

You can find that podcast episode here:

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