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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Loopy Tuesday: The Dragon Run

One of my favorite informal speed sessions is to run hills. I am fortunate that there are no shortage of them in my neck of the woods. Last night I arrived home, hooked up Lil' to the leash and we headed out onto The Dragon Trail for a hard trail session.

Along the Dragon Trail in Sugar Grove
The Dragon Run
The plan was to run 60 minutes total, or about 3 loops at about 20 minutes each. That is the basic layout for the Dragon workout, with the key being how to run those hills. I wanted some race simulation, moving quick and relaxed over technical and demanding terrain. I used the first 10 minutes to settle into a reasonable 60 minute pace- and then began running the hills hard; the steeper the hill, the harder I ran with the aim of going anaerobic and boosting power potential. On the backside I would just coast and recover. Loop one was completed in 19:26.

Lily had had enough with the heat so I dropped her in her doggie pool and turned back out for loop #2. I was warm now, had my trail legs under me and was slightly more aggressive generally with my approach. Though I still took my downhill recovery very casually. There is a time for aggressive downhill running, this isn't it- I want to tax the physiology and leave the eccentric work for later in the process. You can't shoot all your bullets everyday. Loop two passed in 18:40, so a bit faster but really just a smooth transition.

Loop 3 I made the decision to head on down to the lower portion of the trail network and so descended toward the Watauga River for 12 minutes of smooth, open striding on the gravel road and single track. This section is much less technical and so I had a nice opportunity to flow downhill and elongate my gait. I took a few minutes at the river to soak in the waning daylight, the swollen river and the abundance of life that has erupted in the High Country (already).

The 'Tale of the Dragon'
Knowing Lynnea and Sylas were probably wondering where I was at (ended up at the river for about 20 minutes...) I turned my toes toward home and the direct assault on the 600m of 25% incline I have dubbed the "Tale of the Dragon".

This hill will make you and break you depending on your fitness ability on a given day- this hill tells the tale of your current state of being as a runner. Motorized vehicles groan at its existence, knobby tires wince at is slick surface and doubt the existence of friction.  I know that when I can bounce up this beast without much notice of the effort... then I am ready for just about anything- when I can attack it from bottom to top and then ask  for more then a PR is in sight! Last night, I saw I have opportunity to regain some fitness and I felt the twinge of excitement to go after it :)

So the saga continues, with the Chattooga 50k in my sights I continue depositing steps, heartbeats, beads of sweat, gel packs, Nuun tablets and cultivating a most important ingredient, Desire.

Happy Running!


  1. I like the tale of the dragon...I've got a similar (but not as extreme) incline on my favorite trail, 250 ft of climb in 1/4 mile...I'll get to the top in one piece one day...

  2. Great post, Sean! Love the closing paragraph. Cultivation of desire is great symbolism.

  3. great running makes for great writing! and the tale seems to tempt me to run a steep hill...of course, only in my head :)


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