When I arrived in Wiesbaden in 2017, I already knew that the highest mountain in the neighborhood was “only” about 900 m high.
Since I was used to train in the Alps, I asked myself: “and now? How can I simulate the effort I was used to do in the mountains?”
Well, it did not take too much time to find a good compromise and solution, especially because Wiesbaden is all but flat!
Thus, I developed for myself a kind of training that I have called “the saw training”, since it is altitude profile is similar to the teeth of a saw!
This kind of training could be useful to anybody who would like to approach trail-running and to arrive “well-prepared” to though trail-running events. There are three main advantages:
- Get used to frequent uphill and downhill, mixing walking and running, learning how to drink and eat in these situations;
- Get familiar with the usage of the poles: in fact, you can combine this training with the usage of the poles, which are very important when you face several km (more than 50 km for example) or races with tough profiles (more than continuative 500 m as uphill or downhill);
- Train simultaneously the arms, the legs, the crunches, the backs, and more important the head! In fact, for example, when you plan to do 5 of this “up & down”, and after 2 you are already struggling, then the “factor” head becomes important: self-motivation, going forward slowly (does not matter how fast you go!) and complete the exercise will produce incredible benefits, learnings and strengths which are useful for future training or competitions.
Of course, you can use this type of training for any distances and any terrain. These are only few tips. When you want to apply it into your training plan, please talk with your own coach (if you have) and discuss about what I write here. As always, any kind of training must be adapted to the person, depending on its own experience, background, physical and mental conditions, family and working conditions.
Usually I do this type of training every 5-6 weeks and, for people living in Wiesbaden, just write to me if you want to join me once.
To explain this kind of training, I will use a concrete example: my preparation for the UTMB-CCC in 2018 (UTMB Mont-Blanc – UTMB Word Series Finals)
As starting point: it is not important how fast you complete each step: it is more important that you complete them, not matter how long it takes.
Let´s split it in five steps.
Step-1 (35 weeks before CCC): Know your target and study the target profile
What does it mean? Whether you are running to prepare a race or not, it is fundamental that you have a plan with a target. In my case, it was easy: I wanted to finish and complete the UTMB-CCC, in good conditions! Namely, able to drive back 700 km to Wiesbaden few hours after the race!
Thus, after the positive draw and selection, I studied accurately the profile and I noted that there were five long uphill and five long downhill, apart from 101 km (see the orange arrows in the Figure).
- 1st uphill: 1450 D+ in about 10 km
- 2nd uphill: 800 D+ in about 5 km
- 3rd uphill: 400 D+ in about 11 km
- 4th uphill: 750 D+ in about 5 km
- 5th uphill: 900 D+ in about 8 km
Step-2 (31 weeks before the CCC): first session with short up & down
At the end of January, I started to introduce this kind of training in my sessions.
I started with short up (100 D+) & down (100 D-), using the area between Neroberg and Nordfriedhof in Wiesbaden. My only target was to complete minimum six up & down to gain about 800 meter as uphill & downhill.
Step-3 (25 weeks before the CCC): second session with short up & down, but increasing the overall number
After 6 weeks of additional running and training, I decided to go back to the same area and repeat the same type of training, having the target to increase the overall number of up & down, from six to a higher number. In the end, I did eight.
Step-4 (10 weeks before the CCC): third session with longer & technical up & down
At about 3 months before the race, I decided to perform this type of training simulating a hard race with several up & down and technical terrain. Therefore, I went to Altköning.
I did about 9 up & down, but in this case, they were much longer than those of the first two sessions. Moreover, I used the poles, because I had in mind to use them during the CCC and I went three times down to my starting point, where my car was parked to simulate a sort of aid station. Namely, I stopped there to eat and drink for the minimum time I wanted to have in the CCC.
In addition, I also planned to run during the hottest hours of the day in order to align with the conditions I expected at CCC.
Step-5 (3 weeks before the CCC): fourth session with longer up & down
At about 3 weeks before the CCC, I did my last session of this training. I decided to do again long uphill and downhill but in an easier terrain (Platte) to avoid injuries. I repeated the up & down 7 times, trying to gain the maximum elevation gain expected in the CCC (about 1400m).
In the end, this “saw training” was very useful to arrive well prepared to the CCC. Of course, it was an important piece of a general preparation but not the only one. In fact, my preparation also included long runs, other trail-running competitions, mountain bike, mountaineering, and else, that are part of my typical sport-activities. Moreover, I decided to spend several days in the Alps before the race in order to get used to the elevation (> 2000 m a.s.l.): the latter cannot be trained in Wiesbaden.
Therefore, before introducing and applying this type of training in your training plan, it is important that you spend enough time on the very first step to understand what you want to achieve. Indeed, you can apply this training for any race, whether is 20 km with 800m D+, or 50 km with 3000m D+ or > 1000 km with more than 5000m D+.
I hope these few words help you.
Please comment below if you have any specific questions or you want to know more details.
Andrea De Filippo
p.s. German version at the following link: http://www.emigrantrailer.com/2020/05/26/das-sagetraining-emigrantrailer/