FEW runners have Nailed the Hill more than Melbourne runner Danny Cole.
Danny ran in the race for the first time in 1995 and has age-busted 15 times since.
Today, Danny tells us the secret to his success.
HOW to be an age-buster
As a multi Nail Can age-buster I can tell would-be age-busters all they need to know to age-bust at this year’s race. There are four things a Nail Can runner must have in order to age-bust:
• Ability to run
ABILITY TO RUN
In reality everyone with two working legs and feet has the ability to run. It’s just that some people have forgotten that when they were younger they ran about with all the other kids without a thought about it.
It is really just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other a little faster than walking.
It is surprising how quickly it all comes back once you get started.
So I’ll assume that everyone entered in the Nail Can run can actually run.
Just completing Nail Can requires commitment, but age-busting requires real determination.
Aside from the will to get up that long and in parts steep hill as fast as you can, the age-buster has to be able to do it fast enough and with enough energy left in the tank, to be able to cover the remaining seven kilometres or so even faster.
And that can’t be done unless you are determined not only to do it, but to prepare yourself to do it.
There will be a time going up that hill when you will think to yourself “why am I doing this?” or “I must be crazy – this is too hard”. And it is easy, without the determination to keep pushing yourself, to slow, and walk, like a lot of others are doing.
But they are not age-busters, and you won’t be either if you do slow to a walk. Only the determination to keep going when it is really tough will get you there in an age-busting time.
Nail Can Hill is a hill.
A bloody big hill.
So you have to be able to run up hills and run down hills.
A decent training program for age-busting ought to be at least four months.
So getting up early on New Year’s Day and going for a gentle three-to-five-kilometre trot would have been a good start.
And ought to clear the head a little from the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Then, week after week, you will have increased the distance, until by the end of January you have run 10 kilometres on flat or undulating ground quite comfortably.
And hopefully fairly quickly.
Then, in February you started to add in the essential hill-climbing sessions.
Initially, you should start with a moderate slope of about 400 metres.
With a couple of sessions a week you work up to 10 repetitions – start by running up at a slightly challenging pace, then trotting back down and going up again.
Remember, you have to run downhill fast as well as uphill.
And your legs won’t like downhills anywhere near as much as uphills.
By end of February you should be able to run up the 400 metres at about 75 per cent effort and recover fully after each rep.
Then in March you need to find two different hills: one steep 400 metres rise and one long two-kilometre hill.
Also, in March, you should be doing a weekly speed session.
Ideally do this after a warm-up of about three to five kilometres, replacing one of your 10 kilometre runs.
Find an oval and sprint, at about 90 per cent effort 400 metres. Then walk 200 and do it again. After five of these reduce the sprint distance and the recovery distance to 200 metres.
After five of these reduce the distances again to 100 metres and do another five reps.
By the time you have finished you will have sprinted 3.5 kilometres.
You might have to work up to this, but it will be great for leg speed on the flatter parts of the Nail Can track.
If you haven’t reached this stage by now, you will have to work hard in the next six weeks.
Also, you need to increase the longer distance you are running, at least once a week: 12 kilometres is a minimum, and 15 almost ideal.
One good way to do this is to find a 10 kilometres fun run, and do a two-kilometre warm-up, and a two-kilometre warm-down.
In April, try a fun run or get a couple of running mates to come out with you on the first three Sundays of April, race over 10 or 12 kilometres.
If you wanted to have a couple of training runs over the Nail Can course, that’s great as well (as long as it doesn’t dishearten you, of course).
Keep up the training until the week before Nail Can, then taper, by cutting out the sprints altogether, reducing the hill runs to just one easier session early in the week, and reduce your regular runs to about five or six kilometres.
So you have trained well, avoided or got over any injuries, and you feel you have done everything you can to get yourself right to age-bust.
You now believe you can age-bust.
That belief is really important, because there will be a time as you run over that course, when you will look at your watch and think “there is not enough time left – how can I do it?”
That is when you’ll need that belief.
One of the few wonderful things about Nail Can is that the second half of the course is a lot faster than the first half.
So, you can really fly home and shave minutes off what might have looked like your time at the six-kilometre mark.
I don’t think there has been one year when I haven’t looked at my watch at that point and thought, “I’ll be lucky to make it this year”.
And once I had only eight seconds to spare.
If I’d lost the belief I could do it, I wouldn’t have.