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.
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!!