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Fling Training and Learning to Love Hill Reps

jp's picture

By jp - Posted on 29 September 2014

How's everyone's Fling training going? I'm loving these sunny days, which make it so much easier to get up early and get some training in before work.

I'd be interested in other people's advice on training for the Fling... in particular, how do you do hill reps?

My program includes 1 hill rep session a week. I use a steep firetrail that takes about 3 mins to climb - ride up it in a gear high enough that the last 20m or so are a real struggle, then 3 mins recovery and do it again. I start with about 4-6 reps 7 weeks out from the race and build up to 8-10 reps for the 4-5 weeks before the race. So 10 reps takes about an hour, and is a very solid workout. I usually do an easier session the day following hill reps - often a 40 min tempo session and a recovery ride.

I think 3-min hill reps are great preparation for the Fling - especially for those steep pinches in the last stage. Mentally they become "just another hill rep", so you can approach them with more confidence.

Rob's picture

Hill reps are your friends, but 3 minutes sounds a little short.

You should only need to trundle to the bottom for recovery too. No waiting... just turn around and head straight back up.

Brian's picture

I would say the hill repeats you do would depend on what you are targeting. In reality, most events around Sydney don't have hills that go for too long.

jp's picture

Good points... I suppose it's important to decide what you're aiming to achieve. I've always assumed you mainly benefit in 2 ways:

1 - peaking your heat rate and recovering, repeatedly, to improve fitness/ recovery time
2 - building strength by climbing in the highest gear possible

... and the psychological benefit I mentioned above. Most people hate those short pinch climbs that are so common in our marathon races, but when you do them so often they just become routine.

I also try to vary between sitting down/ standing on the pedals for part of each climb.

LadyToast's picture

Train Hard - Race Easy

Simple Smiling

hawkeye's picture

I try to do 3-4 x 7 minutes (longest hill I can find) at 100+rpm with 3-5 minutes recovery in between, but my last FTP test revealed I hadn't been going nearly hard enough.

I also just started back with adding low cadence hill repeats in a separate session for building muscular endurance. 60-70 rpm. They're tough. I wasn't able to complete the session. Worth it for the gains in pedalling smoothness though.

Neither type of hill repeat ever gets easier. You just learn to tolerate the discomfort ... and go faster.

CrankyFrank's picture

I can certainly see the benefit of hill repeats for training. Amy suggestions on where to do them, on the Northern Beaches that is? What is your favourite hill?

obmal's picture

Go try Loombah St out near Newport?

You may need more than a 25 out back (if your on a road bike).

Oh and to make it extra fun.. there's a Magpie that will swoop you!

Logan's picture

Are good on the road. 10min climbs or less depending on how hard your going.

andyfev's picture

+1 for Akuna. I often do Akuna, West Head etc on my MTB. Otherwise the Cascades are great for fireroad climbing

jp's picture

Lots of good suggestions here. I do my repeats in Lane Cove National Park on my way to work. The climbs are pretty short but quite steep in places.

I tried mixing in a few of the ideas above this morning - did 8x 4-min climbs, shortened the recovery time (thanks Rob) and tried grinding away at low cadence in a high gear instead of spinning (thanks Hawkeye). I also used my old 26" Trance, left the suspension unlocked and kept my backpack full of work stuff on my back (I often stash it somewhere in the bush) to make it harder today.

Rob's picture

Here's a few suggestions for hill reps off road, and their KoM times right now for an idea of how long to take:

Towlers Bay (11:43):

Smiths Creek (10:20):

Elvina (8:02):

Heath Track (6:32):

Bantry Bay (6:15):

Acron Oval (5:58):

Brian's picture

I do part of Elvina which come in under 3 mins for the climb. I also do the west head climb from the booth but being on the trails is much nicer with no cars.

hawkeye's picture

If you're looking for quiet roads between NB and the CBD to mix some proper trsining in with the commute there are a few around Mosman. I haven't attempted Awaba Street yet but the climb out from the Zoo wharf is a good 'un, especially with road bike gearing.

Very popular with the roadie crew. Much safer than having to deal with the moronic element of the driving population on Parriwi Road that doesn't seem to know which side of the road is left.

spindog's picture

IMHO It's not all about more k's and longer hills. I'm not a racer but got a massive improvement in hill climbing ability and overall trail fitness from a few months of weighted squats in the gym. I started around 60kg and progressed to 115kg doing one session a week. Be warned though, walking down stairs 2-3 days after these sessions can be challenging! This was in conjunction with 2-3 spin sessions a week for cardio Eye-wink

hawkeye's picture

rock for improving FTP.

Hoa's picture

I find Awaba St tough on a road bike with compact crankset and 11-28 cassette! It's 20+ degrees gradient before the roundabout. I wouldn't recommend it for repeats because the descent back down is hairy. So steep that it's difficult to stop in time for cars pulling out of the side streets.

For hill training I do repeats on the road bike. My fave is Bobbin Head coming out to Turramurra side. Long, steady gradient and a safe descent back down for repeats. The other side of Bobbo has a bit more pinch and makes a good change up.

Hill repeats are great for stength training, but I generally do it after a sustained period of low intensity base training.

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