21. Juni 2020

Some hills, finally

In the past years, finding some way to train hill running prior to races was difficult for me. I tried office staircases but they were boring and the air was dry and stuffy, so I failed to follow my training plan. Ever since moving to Switzerland, this is no longer a problem. I ran some statistics over activity data pulled from Strava, and the results are promising.

There is no shortage of nice running routes in London where I lived previously: see e.g. http://www.athoughtabroad.com/2020/01/01/london-path-to-the-outdoors or http://www.athoughtabroad.com/2018/12/16/runsightseeing-thirteen-london-parks-in-a-day . However, I found it more difficult to get my weekly dose of hill running, ẃhich often meant that I would get no or very little specific training prior to running races with fairly substantial elevation gain.

One of my less successful plans included running up and down the office staircase (http://www.athoughtabroad.com/2019/07/27/the-staircase-up-mount-everest-an-office-workout):

No need to climb the ladders up Mount Everest if you have the staircase of an eleven-floor office block to scale. This staircase is going to replace the hill training for me in the months to come. Around 8890 meters over 2068 floors in 17 weeks. Let’s see how difficult that is.

It turns out that it was difficult. Particularly difficult, because I could really not find the motivation to run up the sterile staircase just for the sake of training. I’m not a professional athlete, so a hobby ought to be fun! Although, thanks to the overload principle, training is necessarily challenging. I only ended up making it maybe a quarter up Mount Everest this way before giving up.

I don’t give up goals easily, although I am happy to give up methods that don’t work. One method, not necessarily the primary purpose, was to move from London to Switzerland (here, the hard question could be the reverse one: how can you find a running route that is flat).

I pulled some data from the Strava API (which was simpler than I thought) and did some stats. They are promising! This June, I have accumulated more elevation gain than in any other month over the past 24 months.

In 2020 Q2, I have accumulated more elevation gain than in any other quarter before. What does the data tell me? No more office staircase workouts!

Notably, I did not increase my distance. Quite the opposite, since the Corona crisis made me work from home, I no longer collect running miles through run-commuting.

There is much more work ahead of me, and looking at the data, I believe I am right about doing some strength and stability training to support such a ramp up.

Here is the Colab notebook I used (with all its rough edges):

File: strava_activity_analysis.ipynb [24.66 kB]
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