NewsTrainingWednesday Workout: Head for the Hills with Trail-Running Champ Malcolm

Avatar Gabby NaranjaAugust 10, 2016
Corrine Malcolm at the 2015 USA Mountain Running National Championships in Bend, Ore. Malcolm, of Bozeman, Mont., placed 18th. (Photo: corrinemalcolm.com)
Corrine Malcolm at the 2015 USA Mountain Running National Championships in Bend, Ore. Malcolm, of Bozeman, Mont., placed 18th in the women’s open race. She won this year’s 50-mile trail running championship in Ithaca, N.Y. (Photo: corrinemalcolm.com)

After winning the 2016 Cayuga Trails 50-mile running race in Ithaca, N.Y. and qualifying for the 2016 Trail World Championships in October in Geres, Portugal, all while balancing graduate school, former U.S. national-team biathlete and current U.S. trail running champion Corrine Malcolm offers up a workout sure to sure to whip you into trail-running shape.

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While biting into a deep-fried, jelly-filled doughnut is not what every athlete daydreams about during interval workouts, the reigning U.S. 50-mile trail running champion Corrine Malcolm doesn’t take issue with digging deeper for dessert.

Neither does her trail-running coach, David Roche. After Malcolm finished first in this year’s Cayuga Trails 50 (USA Track and Field’s 50-mile trail championship race), the two found their foolproof workout to dominating the trails: sweets and hill repeats.

2016 National Trail Champion, Corrine Malcolm savoring a doughnut during a recovery meal. (Courtesy Photo)
2016 National Trail Champion, Corrine Malcolm savoring a doughnut during a recovery meal. (Courtesy Photo)

“Over the last year, Corrine has done some variation of this workout 20 times as her key weekly effort (mixing in other workouts on some weeks). Using VO2 hills, she won the Cayuga Trails 50 Miler, the 2016 National 50-mile Championship race. Here’s some math for you: 20 VO2 hills workouts + hundreds of donuts = 1 national champion,” Roche wrote in an article for Trail Runner Magazine.

As Malcolm explained, the workout or a similar version to it, is one that does not go missed during her weekly running routines.

“I do a variation of this workout most weeks, and in that sense it’s the staple of my weekly running training,” Malcolm, 26, wrote in an email. “This is generally my last big tune-up workout about 10 days before a big race in the hills.”

The Workout

– Warmup: 30-minute run

– Intervals: 10 x 4 minutes of uphill with 2 minutes downhill in between

Malcolm indicated the target heart rate and pace should be around threshold.

“Instead of easing up and slowly moving back down the hill I try to keep my turnover really high and move down the hill quickly for two minutes,” she wrote. “This is a quad pounder but it prepares my legs to handle the turn arounds that get thrown at you repetitively in trail and mountain racing.”

– Cool down: 30-minute run

Total estimated time: 2 hours

Malcolm’s Top-Two Workout Takeaways:

  1. Plug in to plug on. Malcolm suggests listening to podcasts during warm up and cool down, then switching to a faster paced song playlist during interval sets. “Right now I love the new seasons of Radiolab Presents: ‘More Perfect‘ and ‘Invisibilia‘, and upbeat music like Elle King’s ‘Love Stuff‘,” she wrote.
  2. Direct attention to the downhills. With training, Malcolm indicates that it can be easy to get lost during the downhill recovery portions, though these are the most crucial for practicing transitions. “I find that often times the races I’m doing have very little flat ground and so nailing the transitions between uphill to downhill to uphill again becomes really important.  No one like jello legs mid-race!” she wrote.

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Gabby Naranja

Gabby Naranja considers herself a true Mainer, having grown up in the northern most part of the state playing hockey and roofing houses with her five brothers. She graduated from Bates College where she ran cross-country, track, and nordic skied. She spent this past winter in Europe and is currently in Montana enjoying all that the U.S. northwest has to offer.

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