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The hill resistance phase follows the base phase and typically lasts for 4 weeks. Lydiard considers this as the ‘transition’ between aerobic (base phase) and anaerobic (speed phase) work.

The main focus is to strengthen the muscles (especially the Type IIB fast-twitch alactic fibres) in preparation for the track sessions ahead, without delving into sustained anerobic energy systems.

During muscle contraction, the nervous system will usually fire off muscle fibres in order of increasing ‘motor unit’ size. Slow-twitch fibres have the smallest motor units, followed by Type IIA glycolytic fibres then finally Type IIB alactic fibres, provided there is a huge incoming electromotive charge.

So the problem is this: if a runner sticks only to aerobic sessions for the entire preparation, he will not adequately strengthen the Type IIA and IIB muscles that gives you the extra advantage in distance races.

Fortunately, the solution lies in running uphill. This induces plyometric contraction whereby the plantar flexors concentrically contracts, while eccentrically stretches from the landing force. This preferentially stimulates recruitment of the Type IIB fast-twitch alactic fibres over the other fibres.

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