February 27, 2013

how to train for the bear run on a treadmilll

One of the races that made its way onto my 2013 race calendar is The Bear Run in Linville, NC. The Bear is a five mile run up Grandfather Mountain (here's my 2011 race recap).

The race is near one of my favorite cities in America, and it would be a good excuse to sneak in a little vacation. We'll call this my destination race of 2013.

Here's the elevation profile of the 5 mile course:

So how does one go about training to run up a mountain? Hills. Lots and lots of hills.

Even if you're not training to run The Bear, hills are a totally beneficial part of training. (Stud runners Carrie Tollefson and Matt Gabrielson break down the benefits of hill training in this video.)

But what if you live in Minnesota where every hill looks more like a glacier? Two words: treadmill incline.

When I was first training to run it, someone much better at math than me figured out a treadmill run that would simulate the elevation profile of the course. I honestly have no idea how one would go about figuring this out so no, I haven't checked the accuracy. If you're the type (cough*nerd*cough) that can figure stuff like that out, feel free to weigh in.

The Bear Treadmill Simulation Run
Mile     Incline
0-.5:      8.5%
.5-1:      6.3%
1-1.5:    7.5%
1.5-2:    0.5%
2-2.5:    1.0%
2.5-3:    0.4%
3-3.5:    10.3%
3.5-4:    7.5%
4-4.5:    8.0%
4.5-5:    8.3%

If you try this, let me know about all the weird looks you get at the gym when you're practically falling off the back because you have the incline so high.


  1. Holy crap a 10% incline on the treadmill!!! Ha ha - that is some serious incline.....

  2. It's accurate! But where's the workout you use?

    1. Christine, the workout is just the simulation run in itself. If you're not trapped inside on a treadmill, I'd head outside for a 1-2 mile warm up, followed by 6-8 repeats of a long, gradual hill (that takes at least a minute to climb). Jog down for recovery, then run a cool down. Hope that helps!