Flyers! This month’s challenge is inspired by hills. In life, we are so attached to data, numbers, times, paces, and hard facts. As runners we crave feedback, splits, and times. Well hills, my friends, hills throw all that out the window. We all need a little variety in our lives and in our training but it can be scary to stray away from routine and the feeling of security. I encourage you to embrace the challenge of hills head on and experience the benefits reaped from going up and over them.
Hill running dates way back to the earliest forms of natural speed work. Hills can be a great tool to work on proper form as you are forced into a good position when your body attempts to climb a hill. The muscles that are recruited and engaged during hills are often referred to as our "fast twitch" or sprint muscles. I dare you to run hard up a hill and not have your glutes, hammys, and calves screaming at you. Screaming in a "go you" kinda way. The great thing about engaging these muscles too is, it's a safer and less injury prone form of workout than running all out 100 to 200m which you would have to do in order to recruit those same muscles.
I have always loved doing hills before my spring track season begins, as it introduces that element of "speedwork" to your body gradually. Doing 2-3 weeks of one hill session a week can be a great start to stepping onto the track. There are several ways to incorporate hills into your weekly workouts. The biggest things to remember are take the first few reps of a hill workout a little easier and gradually get faster. Our coach likes to sometimes put a cone down at the spot where we finish our first hill rep. The goal is to make it past that each successive interval. Picking the grade of hill depends on how long the hill rep is supposed to be. You'll get an idea when you start running hills that "oh this is a 15 second hill" meaning it's so steep you would not want to run for a minute up this bad boy. And so on with 2-3 minute hills. Your legs will be heavy and your lungs will be burning, but I encourage you to welcome that discomfort and know you'll come out stronger on the other side.
"After climbing a great hill, one only finds there many more hills to climb." -Nelson Mendela
Have you thought: "If I can just get over this conflict in my life, all will be calm and settled." Then to find weeks later you face another challenge? Life is full of crests and valleys and climbs and falls. I have always found if you can push through your mind and body telling you to stop on a run when it hurts, you can handle just about anything that gets thrown your way. The best thing a hill in running (or life for that matter) can do is teach you to weather the storm, and make the commitment to get to the top. Gravity is pulling us down when we're climbing a hill and begs us to back off or give up. The only way way we can experience the reward in this case the view, is to crest the hill. Look back down on what you just accomplished, pat yourself on the booty, and then find another hill to defeat.
This month, I’ll be sharing weekly hill workouts for you to put your body and mind to the test. Be sure to follow @oiselle on Twitter, each Wednesday of this month. Give these workouts a try and share your progress with hashtag: #upandover.
#WheelsUp17 is a series made for the motivated — a monthly challenge designed to help you see your runway and takeoff. With pro and coach Steph Bruce at the helm, and the power of the Oiselle community by your side — it’s just the right push to help you pull up your wheels and soar!
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