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!