It’s not long until we pound the pavement up Heartbreak Hill as part of Sydney’s most famous race. So to make sure we’re race-day ready, we spoke to Sydney fitness legend and personal trainer Ben Lucas for his top training tips. He’s run 35 marathons and 5 ultras in the space of 5 years, so he knows what he’s talking about…
“City 2 Surf is such a unique track and with that in mind there are a few things to consider when preparing for the event. For starters, while it’s only 14km, which is massive for some people and nothing to others, there’s a lot of hills, not to mention Heartbreak Hill, to take into account. This makes it one of the more challenging shorter distant fun runs.
So when structuring your training program I would suggest you program it similar to the below:
Monday: Fartlek training day (see below)
Tuesday: Strength Training in the gym
Wednesday: Hill Sprints
Thursday: Strength Training
Friday: Fartlek or sprint training
Saturday: Rest, do some active recovery such as yoga, walking or swimming
Sunday: Long run day
Also try to fit in some active recovery sessions.
Farley and Sprint Training
Fartlek training is simply defined as “periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.” It’s a training method that blends continuous training with interval training and it’s a very simple form of long distance run. If you prefer to do sprint training, identify a 80-100 metre distance. Sprint to the end and walk back to recover. Both of these training methods stimulate neuromuscular changes that will ultimately help you boost your speed and improve your stride. Only by pushing yourself will you get the maximum benefit out of your fartlek training sessions.
Hill Sprint Day
The City 2 Surf course has hills in it so make sure you practice hill sprints prior to race day; the last thing you want is to burn all of your energy because you weren’t prepared. Find a hill that is 100- 200 metres long. Sprint up the hill and walk back. Do this around five times in your session.
Long Run Day
If you’re planning on participating in a fun run, a long run day is always a good idea, however its good to note that you don’t actually have to complete the full distance in your training. If you are starting out maybe aim to run for 30 minutes, then the next week up that to 40 minutes. Each week add more time or distance to your long run day to help you build up the kms needed to complete the race distance. Make sure you taper off in the week leading to the event though so you are not too sore to preform on race day.
Strength training is great for runners if you’re doing exercises that are relevant to the sport. Focus on the main muscle groups used in running such as glutes, legs, core and posture and improve upon any imbalances that may affect your performance. For example, you may find that one hamstring feels tighter than the other so you will want to focus on strengthening the weaker side. Single leg exercises are good because you are only ever on one leg at a time when you run. Some good exercises include Romanian Deadlifts, squats, weighted step ups and one leg deadlifts etc.
Yoga has become the norm for athletes to incorporate it into their training schedules, especially for recovery. I would recommend 1-2 sessions per week while training for running season. Yoga helps you build your strength as you tend to hold poses for quite a while (depending on the class) and you are constantly flowing into the next movement. It is also great for balance, flexibility, mobility and mental endurance. All of which are needed if you were to be participating in any endurance event or having to lift a very heavy weight. There are lots of professional athletes who consider yoga to be a very important part of their training schedule. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for you!”