Hell Workouts

Did I say hell? I meant hill… but it’s pretty much the same thing right??

When I started my marathon training in Illinois, I was on pace to run 8:40 min/mile pace for the Marine Corps Marathon. I was in for a very rude awakening, however, when we moved out East. There are hills EVERYWHERE. Literally. As someone who has lived in Illinois her whole life, I had absolutely no idea how this would affect my times. It ended up changing a lot more than my times though, it changed my whole outlook on running.

My first couple of runs after we moved here were miserable to say the least. It was as if all of the joy I felt while running was stripped out of me. On my first run here, I felt like I was climbing Mount Everest after getting punched in the stomach, while having my legs pricked with a million needles. All I could focus on was my times and how I wasn’t hitting my goals. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was either going to have to give up running all together or change my attitude about it.

Since then, I have done the best that I can to embrace the hills and disregard my times. I don’t run because of the numbers, I run so I can EAT!! (And so I can make it across the marathon finish line alive!) The hills make for gorgeous scenery, harder runs and stronger quads. And who doesn’t want that??

To put it (somewhat) simply, hills increase the force requirements of our workouts. They force us to lift our knees higher, which improves stride speed and length. They also develop all three muscle fiber types- slow twitch, intermediate fast-twitch and fast twitch. Slow twitch (aerobic) develops endurance, intermediate develops power and fast twitch (anaerobic) develops speed.

I challenge you to add at least one hill workout to your weekly routine! Right now, I have no choice. The hills are there whether I want them or not. But when faced with that choice in the future… I’m heading straight for the hill.

Keep your torso tall and push through your heels to activate your glutes.

Basic Hill Workouts

1. Find a hill and for a total of 15 minutes, run easy up the hill and walk down. You should feel slightly challenged, but comfortable breathing at the top.

2. Run hard up a hill that takes you between 30-60 seconds to climb. Focus on pumping your arms and keeping tall- don’t lean forward. You should feel out of breath when you reach the top. Take a few seconds to walk it out and then jog back down. Repeat for 15-20 minutes.

As winter approaches, don’t allow that to be an excuse! Use the incline on a treadmill or climb stairs for 15-20 minutes. Always warm up for about 10 minutes before your workout and cool down and stretch when you finish.

You’re going to hate me at first, just like I hated these hills. But I promise you will love me (and the hills!) when you begin to feel more speed, power, and endurance in your running! Go get ’em!!

9 thoughts on “Hell Workouts

  1. I love this, I had the same problem on my new route but it only makes running easier and easier as time goes on and like you said you get stronger and faster. I did my first hill sprint the other day and loved it! Crazy! 🙂


  2. Yea I am! I’m terrified! 7 months training just hope I can get through it lol it’ll be one hell of an achievement if I can then the next thing will be marathon training 🙂


    1. You should consider running the Chicago marathon as your first. There’s so many people cheering you on the whole time, you just get lost in the moment! I remember I trained my entire time with music and during the race I didn’t listen to a single song because it was so much more fun and motivating to hear people cheer for me!


      1. Yea I imagine! Well Chicago is a bit of a trek from the UK but its highly unlikely ill ever get a place at the london marathon so may be worth considering! I can currently just about manage a half so long way to go yet 🙂


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