How I Hate Hellish Hills

This is how I felt...

 

Now, most runners try to avoid hills – and I can understand why…they’re HARD! Normally, they don’t bother me as much, but either I’m out of shape, my legs aren’t as strong, or maybe its the heat, but the nature route I normally take has proven to be more and more difficult the further along I go. I’m slower, and at first I thought it was due to lack of motivation…but then today I realized…

It’s the hills.

This trail I run is really a biking trail, so there are plenty of hills, some valleys, and lost of curves along some rather beautiful scenery. But those hills? They have been kicking my butt lately! Today I ran intervals. The plan was to run them close to tempo (so that’d be like 14 – 14.5 min/mi for me). What I wound up with was something like this:

Set 1: 2 mi with avg pace of 14.53 min/mi

Set 2: 2 mi with avg pace of 15.08 min/mi

Set 3: 2 mi with avg pace of 16.34 min/mi

I wanted to do a fourth set – really I did…but my legs did NOT agree with that desire. So I walked an additional 2 miles to make myself feel a little better. It was a difficult run…and I know when I run on another trail which is a lot flatter, I’m definitely faster and can go further. Yet I keep coming back to this hilly trail. I suppose, in my mind, I figure that even though I’m going slower and can’t run as far as I would on a flatter trail, I’m building strength and endurance in my legs. I’m hoping that this is right…that when I hit flatter trails I’m able to go faster and further because I’ve been training on terrain that is a lot more hilly.

Still…I hate hills.

Even taking a look at my runs today, apparently I’m running some pretty nasty hills in terms of elevation. In my first set, I started at a 22 ft elevation, hit my highest point at 125 ft, and the tail end of the set I hit a climb that rated a 1 on a scale of 0-5, with 0 being the hardest and 5 the easiest. No wonder I was exhausted. In set 2 it looks like things were relatively flat. Started out at 83 ft elevation and only went up to 89 ft. No major climbs there, but it was still difficult for me, and now looking at set 1 I can understand why. I put out a lot of my energy in that first 2 miles. Set 3 I began my return, and wound up walking a good portion of it. My legs were done. It started out at 63 ft elevation and went up to 98 ft. I always try to go slow when I run in order to last the distance, but what I haven’t been taking into account was the amount of effort it takes to tackle some of the hills I encounter along the way. I think my next run needs to be a flat one. It’s a good ego booster as it reminds me that I am fast, I am strong, and I can go the distance. I think the hillier route is a good one to train on, so I’m not going to abandon it – I just need to retrain the way I think about those runs and rethink my expectations in terms of performance on them. Those hilly runs are more for endurance and strength than for speed.

Till next time!

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5 thoughts on “How I Hate Hellish Hills

  1. Back in my days of cross-country running in highschool, I grew to love hills. Granted, I was running competitivly then – and wasn’t a slightly overweight middle aged man, but still. My coach taught us then that one of the best times to pass someone (remember, it was competitive) was to do it on a hill.

    Everyone gets tired on hills. Hills are hard on everyone mentally. But if you could pass someone there, it hurt their ego a bit more, and made it a little harder for them to catch you. Due to this, I learned (this only works in groups of course) to focus on someones’ back while running up the hill and draw them to me. When going by, pass them strong (don’t speed up and kill yourself of course), and then when you hit the top of the hill, ignore that natural feeling of “OMG I MADE IT! I CAN STOP WORKING SO HARD NOW!!” – and instead, burst over the top, leaning into the down hill.

    Now,I don’t try and “beat” anyone now, I am out there to run for fun and to feel better, yet I find I can still enjoy hills. I let myself know that it is (definitly) ok to run slower, and to realize that running them strong – is something few people can do. I don’t have to be fast at it – just strong. I try and avoid totally flat runs, and this way the standard up and down of a “flat” course isn’t even noticable.

    Keep running those hills – and at least once a week -go find some good ones. Run those, and learn to do them strong (hill repeats of sprinting up, jogging down are AWESOME workouts.. but painful), and there is nothing in running you won’t be able to do – and enjoy!

    • i’d never thought about using hills as an ego boost – theyre usually a downer for me, lol. when i run them i try to keep up the same pace, or to drive myself up to the top. its a mental block i need to get through. i’ll take your advice and keep running them at least once a week, and ill start incorporating hill drill back into my workouts when i do flat runs. thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Pingback: Maps are awful flat.. The running route was not! | Once and Future Runner

  3. Pingback: 21 Day Challenge: Day 8 | A Curvy Girl Running

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