What it takes get to the top of the hill

What it takes get to the top of the hill

What it takes to get there to the top of the hill (International Mountain Running Youth Cup), and what it’s like when you get there!

In June 2017, I represented England at the International Mountain Running Youth Cup – an U18 competition for which 4 boys and 4 girls are selected each year. This year, the race was held in the Puglia region of Italy, and was a truly amazing experience.

We travelled to Italy as a team on the Thursday before the race, arriving in the afternoon before leaving to walk the course the following morning. On Friday evening, an Opening Ceremony took place in the small town of Gagliano Del Capo – a celebration of local culture and music, with a parade through the town – before every athlete disappeared to ensure they got a good night’s sleep in anticipation of the race the next day.

The course itself, which we raced on Saturday morning, started on a bridge over the ocean, before climbing its way towards Gagliano Del Capo, with stunning views all the way – in the case of the girls’ race, just under 5km. Not that the views were largely appreciated during the race, with temperatures in excess of 30C and no shade on the course! With around 250m of climb within this, it was certainly not an easy race, but it was an experience which I will always treasure and would love to have the opportunity to repeat.

Naturally, the training for this event, both in terms of attempting to qualify and training for the event itself, presented challenges, as is the nature of Fell Running and indeed athletics in general. However, given my love for running, and in this case the unexpected rewards of my efforts, although the training may have been difficult at times, it was also extremely enjoyable. Although training varied from week to week, a typical training week leading up to the event, largely overseen by Mick, would have looked something like this:

Sunday: A steady run, of approximately 6 miles.

Monday: A speed-endurance session, such as 350m repetitions.

Tuesday: Hill reps, of varying lengths and gradients depending on the session. Often preceded by strength and conditioning.

Wednesday: Approximately 4 mile run, at a faster pace than the Sunday run.

Thursday: 30 minutes of circuit training, followed by 30 minutes of yoga.

Friday: Either a rest day, or an extra session of hill reps.

The week leading up to the race itself, partly due to wishing to arrive at the race with fresh legs, but also largely due to the time constraints created by travelling to Italy, was much quieter in terms of training, with a less intense session than usual on the Tuesday and no training after that.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience that I enjoyed every minute of, and was worth every training session. I would like to thank everyone at the club who has helped and supported me throughout this journey.

Lily Higgins

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