Satara Hill Half Marathon: Do's and Dont's

The Satara Hill Marathon is one of the best known and much awaited races in the India running circuit. Known for its scenic yet tough course, it’s a real test of strength as well as endurance.

The course profile is quite simple to explain. It climbs one way up the Kaas plateau, gaining about 500m over a distance of 10.5K, where runners make a U-turn and run the same route downhill. Simple to explain yet extremely challenging and hard to tackle!

Having run this race 4 times, Atul Godbole of Motiv8 Coaching gives 5 do’s and don’ts to consider in the lead-up to the race:

Do’s 

  1. Do 1 or 2 practice runs on long persistent climbing roads. For Pune runners, doing a practice run on the Sinhagad ghat road is a great choice. Its as close as you can get (maybe even tougher) to the first half of the Satara course.
  2. For the next few weeks, incorporate a weekly hill repeat workout in your training regimen. 5 hill repeats at hard effort of around 2-3 minutes each will do.
  3. While strength training and core exercises are a must year-round, strong legs and a strong core will especially help for this course, and it’s never too late to start! Do 45-60 minutes of a strength training + core workout twice a week in the leadup to this race. Oh, and do continue with this after the race too!
  4. For running in general, and uphill running in particular, your weight matters a lot! Even a 1 kg reduction in weight will work wonders for your race. Set a target of 1 kg weight loss in the next few weeks till race day and reap the benefits.
  5. Do a run-walk in the first half of the race when you are climbing. It will conserve your energy better and you will find that you are not losing that much time by incorporating walking segments in your race.

Don’ts 

  1. Don’t go overboard with downhill running in the lead up to the race. Downhill running is stressful for your legs and is a big injury risk. Take it easy on the downhills while training.
  2. Don’t do hill workouts (runs or repeats) in race week. Give your legs a chance to recover and be fresh in time for race day.
  3. Don’t run fast in the first few kilometers of the race. At the start of the race, you are typically so fresh that you will not feel the climb, but rest assured, you will pay for it after a few kilometers.
  4. Don’t be so focused on your time and performance, that you forget to enjoy the beautiful route. Pray for rains, which makes this course even better, and enjoy race day to the fullest.
  5. Don’t forget to rest and recover properly before continuing with your training.
This is a tough course; do 1 week of reduced and easy volume after the race, and then get back to your normal training for subsequent races.

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